Christmas 1996. I was not preparing for a holiday cruise with my family. I was not preparing to give my housekeeper a check for over a thousand dollars. I had not hired Santa to entertain children at my annual Christmas party.
No, I wasn't doing any of these things. I was futilely making my best efforts to collect all the torn wrapping paper from everywhere in the house - including from the mouths of several dogs who were seemingly intent on producing copious amounts of homemade confetti.
I was also endeavoring to keep my older son from putting his little brother in the trash can. After rescuing my second son from the garbage, he looked up at me and said, "Poor tired Mommy. Can I help?" My response? "How about you find a relatively clean glass, pour two fingers of bourbon in it, and bring it to me?" I wasn't joking. I've never been at risk of being named "Mother of the Year."
Interestingly enough, however, I appeared to be at risk of murdering my children. All because of a family 1500 miles away whose child had been brutally killed. A family that had absolutely zilch in common with mine.
Granted, this outside interest in my family was brought on with the help of a corrupt juvenile court judge who just unfortunately happened to be a blood relative. Way before I became so jaded that it's impossible for me to be shocked by just about anything, I remember shaking uncontrollably as I was told that DFACS (Child Protective Services in Georgia) was going to "keep an eye" on me because of Jon Benet Ramsey's murder. This was not my first experience with DFACS. Shortly after my second child was born (yes, Benjy the toddler bartender) I was investigated for child abuse after I was accused of being a lousy cook. Seriously.
So you see, my family was nothing like the Ramsey family. In particular, I was nothing like Patsy Ramsey. I remember watching her on CNN and thinking, "This woman looks more put together at her child's funeral than I did on my wedding day!" But for all the differences between us, we have one important thing in common: Both the Ramsey family and the Baez family have been accused of horrific and unspeakable acts of abuse and violence toward our own children.
I was lucky to survive the false accusations against my family. Granted, I have some health issues that will probably never go away - but I'm still standing. One of my children is an adult now and the other one is not too far behind.
The Ramsey family, on the other hand, is not still standing. Their entry into the world of the falsely accused began with the brutal murder of their child. They have been publicly vilified and been followed for over a decade by a dark cloud of whispered (and sometimes not so whispered) accusations and suspicions.
Every one of us who has been falsely accused of child abuse is owed an apology by our accusers and by those who did their bidding. I won't be holding my breath waiting for my family's apology. But let's make sure that the Ramsey family is close to the top of the list.