Mom Accused of Drowning Sons in Tub Thought It Would Make Her a Better Mom

bathtubA 3-year-old has died and his 6-year-old brother remains in serious condition in a hospital after police say their mother tried to drown them both in the family's bathtub. Laurel Schlemmer allegedly waited until her 7-year-old son left for school before getting her two younger children into the bath, then climbing in with them -- fully clothed -- and holding both boys under the water.

The tragedy in Western Pennsylvania is already being compared to that of Andrea Yates, the Texas mom who drowned her five kids in the family tub back in 2001. And there are certain starling similarities. Like Yates, Schlemmer already seems to be prepping an insanity defense, telling police she heard "crazy voices" that told her to drown her sons.

Too horrifying for words? There's more.

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Detectives on the case say Schlemmer told them she "thought she could be a better mother" to the 7-year-old "if the other two boys weren't around and they would be better off in heaven."

It's so crazy I can't imagine a mother who wasn't hearing "voices" saying anything of the kind. How could one possibly be a good mother after killing her kid?

Unless this is yet another case of a mother so overwhelmed by motherhood that she's simply lost her grip on reality? I should be clear I am not excusing the horrors Laurel Schlemmer is accused of here. You don't drown your kids in the family bathtub. You get help. Period. 

But as the mother of one child who knows that one child is really my limit, a part of me can't help but respond to her alleged statements to police. People often tell me I "have to" have another child -- for various reasons -- and often look askance at me when I say that one is what I can handle.

As mothers, we're expected to be able to juggle however many kids we have, regardless of our personalities, our capabilities, our mental state. But like our kids, all moms are different. All moms have varying degrees of maternal instinct and abilities. Some moms thrive with a lot of kids; some moms are just barely getting by with one or two.

Do I think Schlemmer is a "better mom" for what she's accused of doing? Absolutely not!

Could I see how she wished she could turn back the clock to when she just had one and maybe felt like she could handle that? Well, honestly ... yes. I think we all could, if we really force ourselves to think about it.

Unfortunately, not enough parents think about their limitations before having more kids than they can handle. Fortunately, most moms pull themselves up by their boot straps and make do, even when the going gets tough.

If Laurel Schlemmer couldn't do that, she could at least have sought help ... from a therapist, from a local church, from someone! Her boys didn't ask for an overwhelmed mom; they deserved better.

What do you think should happen to Schlemmer? Should the court show her mercy or lock her away and throw away the key?

 

Image via r. nial bradshaw/Flickr

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