Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Repost: Why I feel good about judging Casey Anthony

I've contributed to the Orlando Sentinel's Moms at Work blog since 2010. The blog is changing content management systems and my old posts will no longer be available to the public, so I'm reposting them here, in the order that they were originally posted.

July 6, 2011

On Tuesday, a jury of her peers determined that Casey Anthony is legally not guilty of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Marie.

Against the odds, Casey Anthony and her legal team managed to beat the justice system's case against her. Still, there's a rap she'll never be able to escape: Casey Anthony -- she of the partying and the new tattoo while her child was missing -- was a Bad Mom.

For moms who sometimes judge other moms (that means all of us), this is a wonderful opportunity to be judgmental -- with almost no guilt! Casey Anthony was an actual Bad Mom, who did real Bad Mom things, not the kind of petty stuff that usually causes us to clutch our pearls. This wasn't feeding the kids fast food, cursing in front of them, failing to control them in public or forgetting to pick up Junior from softball practice.

Neglecting to report a child missing for a month is way beyond any of that.

Sure, some moms are delicate-flower types, for whom the trial raised all sorts of existential questions. But for moms like me, the Casey Anthony case was a gigantic reminder that no matter how much I worry, I really am doing OK at this mom thing.

I may have some iffy moments, but I'm in no danger of the state crystallizing the notion that I'm a terrible parent by putting me on trial for my kid's death. No matter how I struggle to handle the working-mom juggle, I now have a benchmark: I'm not as terrible a mother as Casey Anthony.

No matter that I literally bit my tongue to keep from yelling at my daughter when she messed up her hair moments after I'd finished it last week, or that I put her in front of the television just to have five minutes to finish that novel I'd been reading a couple of days ago or even that I voluntarily gave her something to drink that contained high-fructose corn syrup, I'm still OK.

It's a low standard, to be sure, but it gives me something to work with.

Like lots of parents, I'm really tough on myself. I want the best for my kid -- and I'm always striving to be the best for her. I feel bad at the times when I'm not able to give her the best for whatever reason. The example of Casey Anthony allows me to give myself a break for a change. I may not be able to give an exact definition of what makes a good mom, but I sure know what a bad one is.

And I'm nowhere near it.

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