When I was young I had a cat that gave birth to a litter of eight kittens. I remember removing one of her kittens and walking away into the next room. This mama cat meowed non-stop calling out for her baby. She instantly knew when she was plucked out of her litter, and came to search for her one that had disappeared. She didn’t give up until I released the kitten to her. Mama cat then grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and carried her back to her litter.
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This relentless protective behavior is what we typically come to expect of mothers. Anything less is uncharacteristic of a mother’s love.
I am reminded of one of Jesus’ parables: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:12-14
We mothers are wired to protect our children. However, sometimes something inexplicable goes wrong. Something we cannot fathom.
About three years ago a 2 year-old girl, Caylee Marie Anthony, disappeared and her mother, Casey Anthony, failed to report her missing. Indeed, it was the grandmother, Mrs. Anthony, who called 911, after overhearing her daughter Casey admit she didn’t know where her daughter was. Up until then Casey lied to her family about her daughter’s whereabouts for 31 days. How many more days would she have gone unreported, had the grandmother not intervened?
Afterwards, the child’s mother, Casey, continuously lied to police, contriving intricate stories which led them on wild goose chases, wasting valuable time.
Parents typically break out in a sweat, with rapid heart palpitations when a child of ours (no matter the age) disappears from our sight. I cannot fathom not calling the police for 31 days to report one’s missing child.
The trial coined by media as “the trial of the century,” against the mother suspected of premeditated murder and negligence, concluded last week with the jury returning a “Not guilty” verdict, on the 3 murder counts leveled. This caught many by surprise, who felt there was enough evidence, albeit circumstantial, to convict her on some level.
The greatest travesty is that this beautiful child is now gone. “...it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”
I suppose what intrigues me most about this trial is that it displays the best and worse possibilities of motherhood, nestled within one family. The ideal of motherhood, juxtaposed with the possibility that a mother could do the unthinkable, and murder her own child. The ideal model of forgiveness and unconditional love, as displayed by Mrs. Anthony, where she looks beyond the immeasurable pain and travesty, and still loves her daughter.
What is it in this mother (Mrs. Anthony) as compared to her daughter’s (Casey) mothering instincts?
It must be a horrible place to be, where you have to turn your own daughter in when you believe she has had a hand in the disappearance of your grandchild. Despite this, she loves her daughter anyway.
This mother’s love drives Mrs. Anthony to allegedly perjure herself on the witness stand to protect her daughter from the death penalty. After weeks of Casey and her defense team throwing the family under the bus (figuratively), Mrs. Anthony can still walk by her daughter and mouth the words “I love you.” Meanwhile, her daughter stoically stares, and disregards her. Upon trial completion, Mrs. Anthony tries to visit her daughter in jail, but her daughter Casey refuses her visit. Despite this, Mrs. Anthony deposits money into her daughter’s jail account, before leaving.
Though this mother, Mrs. Anthony, appears to have unconditional love for her daughter Casey, the take-away shared by media and legal pundits, was that this case highlights the necessity of “tough love” in the shaping of our children. Casey’s pathological lying and other salacious activities (stealing money from family, etc) were tolerated without tough consequences. Publicly released videos taken during her parent’s initial jail visits, speak volumes how disrespectful, entitled, selfish, and narcissistic Casey’s behavior was toward her parents.
I believe this case will continue to be talked about and studied for some time to come. It is a troublesome collision of dysfunctional family dynamics and a pathologically lying narcissistic young woman’s unplanned pregnancy. Though few found her innocent, and believe she is implicated in the homicide of her daughter, there were no felony laws broken by her refusing to cooperate with police (regarded as a misdemeanor), nor her disregard to report her child missing. As a result, a mother from Durant Oklahoma, Michelle Crowder, started an online petition to create “Caylee’s Law,” which will make it a felony for a parent or guardian not to notify law enforcement of a missing child in a timely manner.
A Florida Sate representative, Bill Hager, took it a step further, and proposes “If a child under 12 years old is missing for 48 hours, this law would require parents to report it to authorities. And a deceased child would have to be reported within two hours."
Good can emerge from a tragedy, and sometimes it takes a tragedy to awaken us to action. Collectively as a society, we have an obligation to protect our children from victimization. The verdict highlights the gaps in the legal system that need to be addressed. Please go online and consider signing a petition which proposes closing this gap by creating a “Caylee’s Law” in all states.
My heartfelt prayers go out to all those who loved Caylee Marie Anthony.
May your babies sleep well tonight, as they are safely nestled in bed, and you as loving responsible parents are protecting these blessings entrusted to you by God. Let’s remember and keep a vigilant eye for the children around us who are not as fortunate.
Copyright © 2011 Ella Venezia. All Rights Reserved