Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Things She Wore

By now many of us know the unspeakable story of Cynthia Wachenheim Bacharach's  leap to death with her baby strapped to her chest. Since I used to know the family, I have read everything written abut Cynthia's suicide and have tried, totally unsuccessfully. to reach out to the family. My mind remains filled with Cindy even though we have passed her first yahrzeit, but for me there is one image in this story with which I have become most obsessed. So I must write about it and hope my blog will help at least one woman suffering from PPD.

There is a photo of Cynthia lying on the ground, lifeless, covered by a white  sheet. One can wonder many things: viz., how many back bones were broken; how long did they leave her there on the hard ground before they took her to the morgue, etc., etc.

But what struck me the most is that on he feet she wore a pair of men's socks. She was dressed in jeans, which were no doubt somewhat tattered at the cuffs.

Remember: Cindy was a successful lawyer. In former days she likely went to her closet and chose a designer suit to wear to work. What, however, is a relatively new stay-at-home mother to choose to wear on any day but nothing at all special; nothing at all to remind her of her identity as a successful attorney? (How ridiculous would she look sitting  on a park bench feeding the pigeons with her baby while she wore her newest and smartest Bloomie's suit?)

The point is this: Why does society demand that women give up their identities while staying home with  newborns? Why must we wear our husband's old socks and our most decrepit jeans? (I wore maternity pants that were falling off me for many months after my baby had been born.)

I do not know any answers. I only know that somehow society pays so much attention to babies and what they are doing, playing with,wearing, etc. that there is neither time nor inclination to give the stay-at-home mother any notion about what has become of her pre-baby self. In your memory,Cynthia, we must help other new mothers survive and prosper.

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