Heather Murphy-Raines/Scout's HonorSix feet by eighteen inches.
Remember those dimensions.
Six feet by eighteen inches.
We all feel overwhelmed as mothers at one point or another. I've been there. I was so fed up with my 2-year-old escaping into a sub-freezing Fairbanks backyard, that my husband and I turned the locks around in his room and locked him in. Seriously. He got locked in at night.
I think we all have been there. The crazy lady screaming at her kids in traffic. The fed-up mom who locked her kids out in the backyard during summer break.
So I can only imagine what was going through 28-year-old Edyan Farah's head when she locked her five children in an upstairs closet and went to visit a neighbor.
Yes, a closet that was a mere eighteen inches by six feet. Yes, five children.
For 10 long hours.
With a bed in front of the door ...
When Ms. Farah, an immigrant born in Somalia, returned, she found her 3-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter "stiff and unresponsive."
She carried them to her downstairs couch, without calling 911 or attempting CPR. She did not allow anyone to enter the apartment. She ended up having to be restrained by a family member who discovered the bodies four hours later, while a family friend called authorities.
Monday she was charged in two preliminary counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in death. Her three surviving children were placed in foster care pending toxicology reports that could take weeks.
Other clues of neglect have come out after the deaths. Neighbors have come forward to comment how thin the kids were and police have suggested this may not have been the first time the kids were placed in the closet.
After locking in my son for the first time, we guiltily proceeded to listen as he slammed his aluminum bat (don't ask) against the door over and over in a tantrum.
We didn't care about the destruction. He was safe. Safe from himself. Safe from our anger.
We needed relief.
We were at our wits' end.
More importantly, we had each other's support.
Ms. Farah, who emigrated from Somalia 10 years ago with her husband, was alone. Her husband had returned to Somalia a few weeks earlier to visit with his parent.
Twenty-eight years old with five children. It might make anyone a bit unstable. At 38, I have a supportive husband, and my own three kids still make me scream.
What a sad, sad tragedy.
Maybe if she'd had her husband's support, these children might still be alive. We don't know yet if this was a case of deliberate abuse or simply another overwhelmed mother, but Farah claims she was "not in her right mind."
Moral of the story, if you have children in your neighborhood that looked neglected, offer them a sandwich.
Better yet? Offer their mother a babysitter.
And if you are the one feeling a little overwhelmed?
If possible, ask for help.
Feeling so beyond overwhelmed that you are a risk to your children?
Beg for help.
Fuck, SCREAM FOR HELP from anybody and everybody of whom you come in contact. If not for yourself, for your children.