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of mothers and monsters
why casey anthony is most definitely guilty
by reem al-omari (@Reemawi)

My niece almost crawled off the dining room table the other day. I was in charge of watching her while my sister-in-law did stuff around the kitchen. Had I not run to catch her leg just in time to prevent her from having a head-on collision with the floor, I think I would be writing a very different column than I am at the moment.

Nonetheless, the incident left me quite shaken.

I was yelled at by my sister-in-law, which made that sick feeling I felt inside an infinite amount of times worse than it already was, and that mental film reel start rolling of what would've happened if I had not caught my niece in time.

To say the least, I felt like dirt. I apologized profusely, admitted my guilt, was willing to accept any punishment and deprecated myself into the lowest form of life imaginable.

Even after my sister-in-law assured me that all was okay, that my niece was not injured in any way, I had an icky feeling the rest of the day that made me hesitant to go anywhere near her without someone else in charge of her safety. I was about ready to sew a giant letter ā€œSā€ onto all my clothes; S for stupid.

That day I questioned my ability to keep any child safe, whether I should even think about ever becoming a mother.

My niece is one and a half years old, and since the day she was born I had not erred in my duties to watch her. I've always kept her safe and in want of nothing, but that split-second the other day made me rethink the impression I'd always had about myself (and the one others have had about me): that I would be the kind of mom who could sniff out a mosquito in my child's room.

As I wallowed in my self loathing and self deprecation and kept trying to shake off the imagined image of my niece's head meeting the floor, I got to thinking about all those women, all those parents, who have an idiotic moment like mine, but aren't lucky enough to make it in time to catch their kid before he or she falls from a distance even higher than that of a dining table.

That made me want to curl up into the fetal position forever.

I also got to thinking about Casey Anthony, the woman who drowned her two-year-old daughter in the family pool and went to great lengths to dispose of her body, sent everyone on a wild goose chase to find that daughter under the pretense of a kidnapping, and went partying afterward.

I then got to thinking about an Everybody Loves Raymond episode I watched in passing once, in which Ray hits his son's head against the wall by accident and worries that he did some damage to his son's brain. He spends the rest of the episode questioning his competence as a parent who can protect his children.

I also got to thinking about the media making Britney Spears look like the world's worst mother a few years ago after she tripped and fell with her son in her arms. I can still see her eye makeup running down her face in the pictures that proved her remorse along with doubt of her competence as a parent, even more than her guilt.

When I think of that Everybody Loves Raymond episode, I laugh at how universal a truth it is that something as innocent as an accidental bump on the head of a child is cause for a parent to question their competence and legitimacy as any child's protector.

When I think of Britney Spears's trip caught on camera by the paparazzi, I know better than to label her a bad mother, because she reacted in the right way, the way a mother should; she felt remorse and let herself be vulnerable to the cameras. Sometimes, that's all you can offer up to society to make up for your mistake, your vulnerability.

When I think of Casey Anthony, though, I feel a shiver attack my spine and my skin begin to crawl.

When I look at a picture of Casey Anthony, I see nothing but a shell of a person with wide, crazy eyes that emit nothing but emptiness. There is nothing behind those eyes, and certainly not remorse for supposedly drowning her child by accident.

I'm not a mother, but I know how I would react if I was the one responsible for my child's death...

A few summers ago, a woman was playing with her child in a river somewhere in the Colorado mountains. The rapids suddenly grew stronger than she could handle, and her son was washed away, right out of her arms. She was holding onto a rock when rescuers came. She waited for them to bring her son to her. When they didn't, she simply let go and let the rapids take her, too.

That was a mother failing to protect her child.

That was a remorseful mother.

That was a real mother.

I'm not a mother yet, but I know that I would let the rapids wash me away, too.

If what happened to Caylee Anthony was a real accident, her mother would want every form of capital punishment, and would've asked for it the moment her child was pronounced dead.

Casey Anthony is not a mother. Casey Anthony is a monster.


Reem lives and writes about it. She thinks that's what writers do, anyway. If it's not, then she also has a degree in journalism under her belt, along with the titles of reporter, editor (in chief, even) and, of course, opinion columnist.

more about reem al-omari


the black sheep
by reem al-omari
topic: news
published: 8.22.08

the mistake that rained on egypt's parade
did you bring your umbrella?
by reem al-omari
topic: news
published: 2.24.11


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