A couple days ago, I watched “Our America with Lisa Ling” (she has one of my dream jobs by the way). It was the episode where she follows up with some of her interviewees from previous shows like “Heroin in the Heartland,” “Online Brides,” and “Praying the Gay Away.” She followed up with a couple named Mike and Darla from the heroin episode. After kicking their heroin addiction, they had stayed clean for about 18 months. Though clean, they were homeless in New York City and trying to regain custody of their baby boy, Caden, by securing housing and employment.
Background: They were a “normal” couple until Mike lost his six-figure income after being injured on one of his construction gigs. That’s when both Mike and Darla AND their two teenage sons started getting hooked on heroin. It disturbed me to see the whole family shooting up in their mini-van, all of them so obviously ill, fiending, and out of control. It broke my heart. How utterly shitty they must feel deep inside to not only get hooked on heroin but to get their sons hooked, too. (But of course, while high, they probably couldn’t even feel raw emotion). The most devastating part was when I saw footage of their youngest, baby Caden, in his carseat, tagging along with his parents and Lisa Ling WHILE they were on the hunt for heroin, doing whatever they had to do to score some and score some QUICK. (I really don’t want to imagine what they had to do to score). I wanted to jump into my tv and pull Caden the hell outta there and keep him safe in my bosom. Then have to explain to my husband how he came home to double the number of babies than when he left for work.
Anyhow, in the follow-up episode, I was hoping for some good news since the last time I had “seen” Mike and Darla, they looked great. So healthy and CLEAN, despite having nowhere to live and only two backpacks of worldly possessions. Thankfully, Caden was safe. He was in the custody of another family. Mike and Darla had decided he was better off there as they could not get housing, one of the requirements for getting him back. I had been thinking about Caden as I nursed and played with Micah. That footage of him, a happy baby, oblivious to what was going around him – ay, Dios Mio – how it stayed with me. [In the update episode, I learned that his mama, Darla, had passed away from an overdose of prescription pills. Mike tried to revive her but she was already dead. Mike is still clean. Still homeless. I hope he can find his way.]
The next day, I heard about Donald Trump, Jr. and his wife expecting baby number three. People go around saying, “Money can’t buy happiness” but it sure does take the edge off – haha. Money takes away numerous obstacles and worries. Caden, at his tender young age, already has to overcome his “past,” while adjusting to his new life with new parents. Trump Jr. #3, on the other hand, will be lavished with luxury goods in a luxurious mansion, with parents who will always be able to pat him down with gourmet foods, designer clothes, toys, tutors, private schools, vacations, you-name-it. And because of how successful his grandpappy is, he will have so many doors already held open for him (by butlers and other hired help), not because he did anything to EARN it but because he had the good fortune of being born into that family. Money will never be an object
And sure, we don’t know the end of the tale. Caden can grow up to be the President of the United States while Trump Jr. #3 can squander his life away but I just keep thinking about the disparity at the freakin’ beginning of their lives, at an age where they don’t know the difference between rich and poor, privileged and marginalized. I always want everything to be based on meritocracy but life is not fair. Babies don’t choose their families. Even with my boy, as I stared at him sleeping in his Pack N Play at my parents’ place outside of Los Angeles, underneath the outdated professional family portrait, I thought, “He does not know what he’s gotten himself into. I hope I can do right by him and not have him wish he were born into another family.”
I don’t know where I’m going with this. Don’t have a neat little bow to tie onto this so I may just hit “Publish” now
Totally – “I always want everything to be based on meritocracy…” It’s tiring, this capitalistic/individualistic way of life. Being selfish and wanting only one’s children to succeed and to have comfort = bad news for everyone in the long run.