TWO DECADES of DIAPERS – BOOK REVIEW
When you’re a victim of child sexual abuse, as I was, it’s startling to read another person’s memoir and find it disturbs you more than your own story, especially when it’s based on a different kind of horror: fetal alcohol syndrome. But that’s how I felt reading Barbara Studham’s “Two Decades of Diapers”.
Knowing Barbara personally, I was aware of some details of her life, but I wasn’t prepared for what I read in this book. I came away not only feeling very sorry for what she has had to live with for 20 years, but also incredibly impressed by her strength. Barbara’s courage and stamina reminds me of that rather funny adage: a woman is like a tea bag: she doesn’t know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.
Barbara began steeping in hot water when she decided to adopt her own 15-year-old daughter’s first baby. She went on to adopt another three of the seven children her daughter birthed and left for others to look after. The others went to foster homes and to this day, Barbara has little or no contact with this wayward daughter.
Little did Barbara realize, when she took on the role of being a mother to her 4 grandchildren, how difficult it is to raise and deal with children afflicted with fetal alcohol syndrome. Barbara’s grandchildren were developmentally, socially and mentally challenged. They did things like smearing excrement all over their bedroom walls or setting fires around the house. They forgot things almost as soon as they were told them, lost things, and needed 24 hour supervision. Unmarried, Barbara had no-one to help or relieve her. As a result, now 20 years later, she has become almost a recluse, desperately in need of a break and deserving of some joy.
I’m sure Barbara has found occasional joy in being a grandmother to these children, but from an objective point of view, perhaps the best thing that’s come from all this is her important book, “Two Decades of Diapers”. Barbara has had ample time to reflect on what it’s like to raise FAS children and as much as this book is memoir, it’s also a reference book for others in the same situation. Barbara’s memoir style is conversational, but in the latter part of the book, still in an easy to follow tone, she shares valuable information on all aspects of FAS.
The part of “Two Decades of Diapers” that hit me hardest occurred near the end, where Barbara almost begs relatives, teachers, grocery clerks, mothers and fathers to realize just how hurtful their behaviour and attitudes toward such challenged children are, not just to Barbara, but to the children themselves. These children didn’t deserve the lot life dealt them because their mother chose to drink while they grew inside her. They also don’t deserve what they now endure daily as they grow and cope with life outside the womb.
I could say so much more but I’ll leave it at suggesting you read “Two Decades of Diapers” if fetal alcohol syndrome is something you worry about. This fine book is hard to put down and what you read will stay with you long after you read the last page. Congratulations Barbara Studham on your first memoir. Bravo!
©Viga Boland, 2015
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