Justin Ross Harris has recently become somewhat of a household name in Atlanta and across the country.
When the story initially broke a little more than 2 years ago, I immediately felt so sad and so sorry for everyone (both parents included). Then, as more details emerged, I joined most of the population and convicted him long before his trial started. Today is day 4 of jury deliberations, and I can’t certainly say what I think the outcome will be. But I CAN say that his defense team is good! I heard some compelling arguments last week. I’m not sure I believed them all, but they did give me pause, and I do pride myself on trying my best to understand things from all perspectives. But I’m not writing this to argue logistics or take the side of the defense or the prosecution. I’m writing this because I’m a parent.
About eight years ago, I watched a heartbroken mom, Brenda Slaby, tell her story on “Oprah”. That was LONG before I became a mom, but that was the moment I gained understanding. It can happen. And it can happen to the best of us, no matter how much we’d like to believe it can’t, no matter how much we love our children, no matter how furiously we point the finger or how loudly we scream, “How could they?!? I could NEVER forget my child in the car!”
In some cases where children have died from being left in hot cars, the parent responsible for dropping them off was out of his/her routine. But I believe it can happen under many circumstances. Before you judge, consider life. I want to believe that I’m always “on” and that I’m always the best mom possible, especially if my child is with me. But. Life.
When I returned to work for a few months to wrap things up last year, my son was about three months old, and my husband and I had schedules that varied from day to day. Some days, he would take him to day care, and other days, I would. From the very beginning, we made a pact: The person who drops off must send a text to the other saying, “He’s there.” Like many childcare centers, ours has cameras in the classrooms, so even on days when my husband would forget to text me, I would log in and check for myself. But there was always the chance that I would get wrapped up in what I was doing and forget to check. So the text has been our deal from day one. It’s not fool proof, but it ensures accountability, and it’s simple. Not everyone is married or in a co-parenting relationship, but having someone to whom you’re accountable can be helpful.
I don’t know what really happened on June 18, 2014, and I honestly can’t tell if some media outlets are trying to sway us by constantly showing this photo.
What I do know is that an innocent, cute little boy suffered tremendously and died, and
if Justin Ross Harris intentionally did it, I hope justice is served. But in the meantime, I hope our household solution keeps someone else from having to face this kind of tragedy.