Can you be a good mother without running water?
In the wealthy USA where 99% of people have running water and adequate sanitation, authorities are not kind to moms without resources. The surrounding geographic area often has resources like running water that a mother can access without charge and at most hours of the day. The water is more accessible than to most mothers in Bangladesh, more accessible than clean water is to 633 Million people on this planet in this day and age. Americans sponsor projects to get the 633 Million better water access so the women and children won’t have to spend most of their day lugging water. But here, in this wealthy land, we threaten to take away children if there is not money to pay for a water bill that provides running water.
In this wealthy country, there are many women with children who spend a portion of their lives living from a car if they are lucky, or in a makeshift tent. Cars and tents don’t have running water. We know with our heads that when we go camping we lug water. I would love to see a society where we didn’t put single moms in these conditions. We don’t have one. Our single moms spend part of their lives in conditions more similar to Bangladesh, yet surrounded by people so wealthy they think the children should be removed if there is no running water.
I do not have statistics on how many children are actually taken into protective services due to lack or running or hot water. I do know this. When a mother is rising up in economic status and wants to come out of hiding to close her case with protective services there are visits. They always check for running water. Every time they do it is like two worlds colliding. The mothers are afraid if there is no water for any reason including a plumbing issue they will be in jeopardy. And yet, in the surrounding houses and the fast food joints down the street there is incredible, often drinkable, running water that the occupants take completely for granted (not in Flint, but that is a different story). Moreover, Compassion and World Vision kids those neighbors sponsor are not in jeopardy of having children removed, even as the kids and their moms spend hours per day lugging water.
Children need their moms more than they need running water. If we can camp with no running water and not be given protective services notices, moms can live for periods of time without running water without jeopardizing kids —as long as someone is doing the required lugging.
If mom can acquire better conditions, she will. If we can help, we should. Mean time do recognize the catch-22 we put so many moms through and recalibrate the human capacity for love and survival when resources are scarce.
Happy Mother’s Day