Dear Mom Whose Son Went Into the Gorilla Pit: I’m Not Casting Any Stones

harambe 1
Screen shot, WLWT

Dear Mom of the Boy Who Got Into the Gorilla Enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo,

I’m so sorry.

I am sorry you had to hang on for 10 terrifying minutes, wondering if your son would live or die at the hands of a well-meaning but incredibly powerful animal. I am sorry the worst moments of your life are being put on display for the world to see. I am sorry the gorilla, beautiful Harambe, had to be killed. But mostly, I am sorry that you are facing an angry mob of people around the world who want you to be punished. Who are calling for you to be shot, for your kids to be taken away, for you to be taken to jail or to court. I am sorry there are petitions with hundreds of thousands of signatures calling for your life to be turned upside down even more.

I am so, so, sorry.

Dear Mama, I want you to know I won’t be joining the angry mob. I am part of a kinder, gentler mob—a mob full of imperfect parents who are horrified at the thought of being judged on our worst unintentional parenting mistake for the rest of our lives. You see, mama, I am probably just like you. A caring, attentive, loving, intentional parent who makes mistakes. Who has normal, rambunctious children who are unpredictable and sometimes disobedient—as ALL children are.

And sometimes, I make mistakes that have nothing to do with my children’s behavior. About two weeks ago I ran a red light with all three of my children in the car. I was distracted by something—I have no idea what—and didn’t realize it was red until I was sailing through. But I got lucky. There were  no cars coming through the intersection. When I realized what COULD have happened, how I could have hurt my kids or another person, my heart nearly stopped, I got sweaty and shaky all over, and of course, I felt SO, SO guilty. If I had injured my kids or another driver or passenger, would I forever be known by that one simple mistake? I hope not, but in this day and age, I think the answer is likely “100% YES.”

Dear Mama, I don’t know how you feel about God or religion. But I am a follower of Christ. And in the gospel of John he also confronts an angry mob of self-righteous people, just as you are having to do. This mom was gathered around a woman as well. A woman accused of adultery—caught in the act, in fact. But Christ would not allow the mob, wielding heavy rocks with which to beat the woman to death, to stone her. Instead he said,”Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her (John 8:7, ESV).”

I have made so many mistakes in my parenting. Thank God none of them have been tragic, but I know I’m not above it. I’m human. I’m a mom. And I mess up.

I have no stones to throw at you, dear Mama. Only love and prayers for you as you walk through this terrible time. And thanksgiving that your precious boy is safe! I know it’s got to be so hard right now, but I pray you hold your head high. This incident does NOT define you. Your kids need you, so hang in there, girl. And know that although the angry voices shout the loudest, there’s another mom surrounding you with loving hugs, hands on your shoulder, and prayers that God will see you through.

Take care, Mama.




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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.