I don’t go for sensational or tabloid type news stories, hence I haven’t been following the trial of Casey Anthony, the Florida monster that extinguished the life of her 2-year-old toddler, Caylee.  However, I happened to hear one snippet of news that stuck in my mind like a pebble in my shoe:  her brother’s fiancé testified at the trial that “she was a good mother.”  Except of course for that one little episode where she drowned her child, or suffocated her with chloroform and left her to rot in the trunk of the car before dumping her body in a swamp weeks later.

Julianne McCrery was also called a good mother.  Her friends tell us she was a “devoted mother” who would never hurt her son.  A loving, doting mother they said.  Well yes, but you have to look past the fact that she was prone to “sudden, far flung trips.”  One of her friends notes that “she’d take off and do stuff like that.”  Road trips to Seattle or Tennessee on a whim, that’s just her personality.   Unfortunately, one of her road trips ended with her strangling her 6-year-old son Camden in a cheap hotel in New Hampshire, then dumping his body on a dirt road in Maine where we agonized for days over the little boy with no name.  But being the good mother she was, she at least covered him with his favorite blanket.  Yeesh.

There is obviously a good deal of shock among the friends and family of mothers like Casey and Julianne, and maybe just a little denial.  Was Casey Anthony’s narcissism really that hard for her friends and family to detect?  If Julianne had a past history of drug abuse and attempted suicide, would not one her close friends be a little more concerned for the welfare of her child?  Is this what really passes for a “good mother?”

So I won’t be judgmental of those who are sympathetic to these women.  But I will continue to marvel at the fact that we’ll follow the trials of these two women intently, where we’ll probably learn every lurid detail of how they lived their lives and destroyed their children.  We’ll remember their names with the same infamy that we remember Susan Smith.  And I’ll wonder, can one really define who is a good mother? What are those qualities? Would we get a consensus?  Is it a matter of perspective? I am biased by my wife who’s one hell of a mother, but that’s another blog.  No, I have another example.

Her last fight for her child ended here....

39-year-old Angelica Guerrero was watching television in her West Springfield home on Wednesday afternoon, June 1st 2011.   She loved her family; two teenage daughters Ibone and Fabiola, and her husband Juan.  Her eldest daughter Fabiola described her as very loving, working extra hours at her evening job to keep the kids clothed and well fed.  “She loved me unconditionally, and my sister.  She’d do anything for us.”

The tornado that came through Springfield roared down on the home with little warning, just the sound of heavy rain on the window before the lights went out.  Luckily, Fabiola was working that day and was not home. Angelica opened the blinds to look out the window and it was upon them; she screamed for her youngest, Ibone, who was sleeping in their bedroom.  She was able to make it to Ibone with just enough time to get her into the tub in the adjoining bathroom, laying her body down on top of the child to shield her as the house crashed down upon the three of them.  Juan heard her scream once, then nothing.  With broken bones of his own, he pulled himself out of the rubble and started digging in the direction of his youngest child’s voice. Screaming, “help daddy”, she told him “mom is here with me but she’s not moving, she’s not talking.” It took rescuers hours to free the pair. “They found the body of my wife” Juan said, “protecting my daughter.

God rest Angelica.  She was a good mother.