LIFE & CULTURE

As Mothers All We Want Is To Keep Our Babies Safe

"When I read that Ashlee did everything she could to protect her beautiful daughter, I knew I would do the same. We all would."

Babies get really cute at nine months. 

It’s a turning point in any new mother’s journey. 

Past six months, they go from needy newborns who spend their time either crying or sleeping to babies who smile and gurgle and turn and roll. 

You find indescribable delight in the small things – the first time they roll over by themselves. The first time they sit up by themselves. The first time they try a lemon. The first time they dip their chubby toes in the ocean. 

Strangers in the street will stop to tell you that it all goes so fast. And even though you feel extreme exhaustion, you know deep down that they’re right. They will peer into your pram, trying to make your baby smile. Nothing (nothing!) lights you up as much as when your baby smiles. 

You can’t imagine a moment in time when this precious little being didn’t exist. They become the most important thing in your life, and you feel like the most important person in theirs. You experience a love like you’ve never experienced before. An all-consuming love that is more powerful than any other. 

Their life is just beginning, and in so many ways you’re also reborn. In your new role as a mother, you’d do anything to protect your baby. Anything. 

Ashlee Good’s baby daughter Harriet was nine months old when her 38-year-old mother was brutally murdered at Westfield Bondi Junction on Saturday. Nine months. Harriet was also injured, and remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital after undergoing hours of surgery. Earlier in the morning, Ashlee had posted a photo of herself with her baby girl to Instagram, sharing that Harriet was nine months old. It’s a milestone for all mothers. 

On a GoFundMe page which has been set up to support Ashlee’s family, they write: “Being a mother to baby Harriet and partner to Dan was Ash’s whole life. Her love and commitment to them was evident to all who knew her.”

The news of what unfolded at Bondi Junction on Saturday has hit us all hard. It makes us think about our mothers, our fathers, our brothers, our sisters and our children. As a mother, I know I’m not the only one who stopped and hugged her children tight. Who flashed back to when their children were nine months old and who found it hard to comprehend how someone could commit such an act of brutality. As mothers, we also know what lay ahead of Ashlee. Her daughter’s first steps, her first day of school. We know all the things she didn’t get to experience – the struggle and the juggle of motherhood, but mostly the joy of it. 

Having spent so many years making trips back and forth to Westfield Bondi Junction, it also feels too close to home. My sister-in-law and my two nieces – aged 3 and 10 months – were at that shopping centre hour’s earlier. My friend’s niece hid in a shop listening to the screams and gunshots while the horror unfolded. 

As mothers, our primal instincts kick in. We become fierce protectors of our babies. All we want is to keep our babies safe. And when I read that Ashlee did everything she could to protect her beautiful daughter, I knew I would do the same. We all would. It’s hard not to stop and imagine her frantic last moments, passing the most precious thing in her world over to two strangers, begging them to keep her daughter safe. 

It is alleged the killer targeted women, and certainly all the footage would suggest he did indeed. As a mother of two girls, I worry about their safety all the time. It’s the little things, like if the fire alarm is working, but also the big things (can they go to a public toilet alone?).  I’ve spent a lifetime worrying about my safety. I can’t walk into a carpark or down a quiet street without constantly looking behind me. I get nervous when I’m the only person in a train carriage. Since I was a teenager, I’ve experienced what it’s like to have been followed by men, flashed by men, abused by men. For me, those abusers were all strangers but not every woman is so lucky. For many, they are not safe in their own home. In Australia, every single week a woman is murdered by her former or current partner. When will it be enough?

What unfolded on Saturday is unimaginably cruel. It should never have happened and it will never be forgotten. Harriet should be at home with her mother covered in pumpkin puree or giggling after a bath. The killer stole Ashlee’s future joy. He stole from all the victims and their families. Their joy. Their love. Their lives. None of it was ever his to steal. 

To donate to Ashlee’s family, visit gofundme.com

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