We’d all like to think that what one does (or doesn’t do) in this life matters. In other words, along with the personal satisfaction one receives for a job well-done, we’d like to know that society recognizes the accomplishment.
Then, too, we want to see that same society condemn another’s failure to perform–especially in egregiously-wrong fashion. We expect those who run afoul and distort the process will be punished. But that didn’t happen in the Casey Anthony case.
Last night on the Joy Behar show, Dr. Michael Welner , a top psychiatrist and Chairman of the Forensic Panel, was a guest. He offered his belief that there are many (thousands, in fact) of mothers who actually consider murdering their children. Some actually do it.
He mentioned the public cases of Susan Smith (killed her kids by driving them into a river, blaming a fictional black man for stealing them) and Andrea Yates (drowned her 3 little boys in a bathtub. She was deemed insane).
He put forth a host of reasons: Some women are simply inundated with the demands of child-rearing and can’t cope or they wish to punish their husbands. Others want a lifestyle unencumbered with children.
He referenced these examples as proof positive that Casey Anthony is not the singular monster folks would believe.
Now, it’s one thing for Dr. Welman to proffer his theory; it’s another to have personally lived the circumstances he describes. Single mothers everywhere know more than anyone the tough road a parent walks who raises her children, alone.
I know because I was that single parent–twice.
The first time I was only 26 and my baby was 5 months old. I left my husband literally on the heels of another “Burning Bed” scenario where he assaulted me. His behavior deteriorated over time and I could no longer tolerate it. With my child strapped into her carseat, I left him in the middle of the night, returning home to parents who were less than happy to see me.
While I awaited my teaching job to re-open (I’d taken a leave of absence), I sold vinyl siding to customers or cold-called for Sears Catalogue division. I waitressed, too, and I got no support from my ex-husband.
Ten years later, my single parent situation happened again, when my second husband died after a two year illness This time I had two children, one a 13 year old; the other was 3. I was only 38.
In both situations, I recall turning down countless invites to go out with friends, to do the club scene (especially on the earlier occasion when I was 26). There were the times, too, friends invited me to go on vacations with them, off to the beach for the weekend, out to Vegas on another single spree. I always had to say “No.”
If I got a night out once a week, it was a stolen opportunity where I felt like Cinderella, watching the clock, aware I only had this one night before the next 7 kicked on. I knew, too, that if I were to meet a mate, it had to be on those nights, for these were the only occasions that were “mine.”
There were the many times I dealt with a sick child and had to make a run to the hospital in the wee hours of morning, all alone with my fears, as that child’s fever spiked. I drove while the child screamed. I stood in lonely corridors, too, ever watchful for signs of progress, wondering how I’d work the next day with no sleep.
Everyday life was tough. When I wasn’t pretending to enjoy the childlike banter (when a young child was my only company), I tried to recover from a long day of work and parental responsibility. Even if I could have afforded to go out, I had no energy to do so.
Mostly, I felt trapped and betrayed by a dream I’d held for years–one of a Norman Rockwell family where everyone pulled together.
All of the above are what Casey Anthony didn’t do. She blatantly distorted the belief that even if we parents are dealt a tough hand of single parenting, we soldier on for the child’s (and ultimately our own) sake. We fervently hope that some day all of our efforts will be worthwhile as we raise the child to be a respectful, productive member of society.
Casey Anthony didn’t do that. She did what many of us might have fantasized about in our darkest hours (being “free.”) Did it mean we’d do something to affect that status? Of course not.
But Casey Anthony did. And then society, through the guise of 12 jurors, rewarded her selfish act.
It was tough enough to do what we did, but it’s quite another thing to see one who so trampled our collective efforts go on to reap a mountain of personal gain: national media attention, a crack defense team, vindication in a supposed court of law, and promise of extraordinary riches via book and movie deals.
That’s why we rail — —