So, now what?
The trial that dominated national headlines, office gossip and many a person’s brain time for months has reached its conclusion. The verdict was read over a week ago. The dust has settled, or at least it’s settling.
Casey Anthony is free to move on with her life.
Why can’t I?
The reason is obvious. I’m a mother.
There are some things a mother can’t put aside. A lost child is one of them. When you become a mother (or a parent for that matter) all children become your children. One lost is one too many. Caylee Marie Anthony has been lost, and it seems we will never officially know what happened or who hurt her.
For a mother, that is gut-wrenching.
Even though I tried not to pay attention, I watched the courtroom drama unfold. It drew me in and now the verdict won’t let go. I’d turn it off in my head if I could, but I can’t. Parenthood doesn’t come equipped with a mute button.
First, my own confession: as a mother I mess up every day. I am not always patient: “Time for bed. Now.” I raise my voice, “Put the fish back inside the aquarium!” I ignore the food groups, “Waffles for supper?” I stifle their athleticism and creativity, “Stop wrestling in the living room and quit squirting glue in your brother’s shoes.”
Because of my many imperfections, I try not to judge. It is not my place. Still, despite (or in lieu of) the verdict, there are certain things I believe define what a mother is, and what she is not. It is a list steeped in common sense – something I believe our justice system could use more of. Here goes:
Mothers do not create nannies who do not exist.
Mothers report their child missing as soon as they are aware that said child is missing, not 31 days later.
Real mothers work at real jobs, not make-believe ones.
Mothers don’t party like rock stars when their child is missing (or recently drowned, depending on which version you subscribe to).
Mothers do not blame their past as an excuse to hurt their children.
Mothers can’t sleep at night knowing their child is lying in a garbage bag in a swamp.
Mothers do not lie to the police, repeatedly, about their missing child.
I am not making a conclusion about guilty or not guilty in the Casey Anthony case. (Why don’t they call it the Caylee Anthony case, by the way?) Our court system did that for us. As a mother, however, I know beyond a reasonable doubt there are simply things I would not – and other mothers would not – do.
At this point, my observations – however astute – are insignificant. The mother in question is free to live the good life within days of hearing the verdict.
She is free to swim in the family pool, wear her hair down, get a tattoo, enter a hot body contest, order fast food and let it ferment in the trunk of her car. She can go to Disney World and even work there if they’ll hire her (unless she prefers Universal Studios, of course). Point is: life goes on for everyone except the 2-year-old girl whose body was so badly decomposed the experts couldn’t determine a cause of death.
Mothers don’t kill their children, but we do manage to live the good life – some with tattoos, some without – but all with one common denominator serving as our top priority. I don’t even need to tell you what that is.
Jill Pertler, award-winning syndicated columnist and author of “The Do-It-Yourselfer’s Guide to Self-Syndication” is collecting fans on Facebook on her Slices of Life page. Email her at [email protected]; or visit her website at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/.
The verdict is in: Mothers do not kill their children