As more details come out in the tragic story of Julie Powers Schenecker, the mom who allegedly killed daughter Calyx and son Beau for "being mouthy," every mother in America has been quick to say "Oh no, not me. I would never kill my kids."
Let's be real here. Of COURSE we wouldn't kill our kids. But we have a lot more in common with Julie Schenecker than we'd like to think. According to the reports, everything looked fine and dandy in the Schenecker household up until Mom allegedly snapped and shot her two kids on Friday. The exact wording of the Daily News headline reads:
Julie Powers Schenecker showed no signs of trouble before shooting two children for being 'mouthy'
Sounds like your house, doesn't it? No signs of trouble to outsiders?
Of course it does. At least as far as you're telling everyone. But here's where I call BS. On the "no signs of trouble in the Schenecker household" (obviously) and on every house in America.
We've all got a case of liar, liar pants on fire. A recent survey put the estimate of moms who lie about their parenting at around 69 percent, but I'd go higher. Because it isn't just flat out "yes, my kids eat their veggies." It's the mom who puts on her make-up to cover the bags of a late night up with the screaming baby. It's the mom with three kids ages 4 and under who tromps into pre-school looking downtrodden . . . until she suddenly notices someone's watching from one of the cars and puts on a big ol' grin like she hasn't a care in the world.
You don't have to physically tell people a lie to be less than honest about how hard motherhood is. You can put on a good face to the world, and it usually works. We tend to make assumptions about how good or bad other parents have it by what we see when they're out and about. We see a mom with three kids dressed up in cute little outfits with nary a bit of snot on the face at the grocery store, and we think "Oh, my Gawd, how does she do it? Her kids are so perfect. If only mine could be like that." If only we saw the two-hour ordeal she had getting all three into those outfits that morning.
The assumptions about Julie and Parker Schenecker were all based on things like "oh, one parent always showed up at one of Calyx's track meets" or "oh, I never heard those children talk back." But no one every knows what goes on inside individual homes. No one knows if mom's a screamer or dad's a "spare the rod, spoil the child" kind of guy.
As I thought yesterday when debating just how "mouthy" a teenaged Calyx could have been, kids drive their parents nuts. That's their job as they test limits, and we (hopefully gently) guide them back onto the right path. On average, no kid is any better -- or any worse -- than any other. Which means we've all got the same row to hoe. Different circumstances, yes, but our own challenges nonetheless. Parenting is hard work, no matter how you slice it.
The Schenecker kids did not deserve to die. Their mom obviously had some serious problems. But just because there was "no sign of trouble" doesn't mean there wasn't one before Friday.
Do you feel like other mothers have it easier than you?
Image via karindalziel/Flickr