On Friday, an El Paso, Texas high school teacher was found guilty of negligent homicide in the death of her five-month-old daughter, Janay, whom she left in the car for eight hours. Washeka Ives, a former basketball player at The University of Texas at El Paso, had a terrible headache the day she drove to school. She had just changed her high blood pressure medication in recent days, and her colleagues at work, testified that Washeka in recollection, had been stressed and distracted.
Washeka, who took the stand in her own defense, said that she had been having memory lapses and periods of extreme exhaustion, exacerbated by the upcoming Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills testing on her class. Her former UTEP basketball coach, Sandra Rushing, even flew into testify on her behalf.
Every mother feels Washeka Ives’ heartache. And while most of us are never driven to this level of despair or crippling illness following the birth a child, we know that we’ve all ridden the waves of hormonal imbalance that come with childbirth.
Personally, after the birth of my third child, I developed a raging case of hypoglycemia, and after a miscarriage a few years later, I endured months of deep depression. As new mothers, we are expected to pick up where we left off after our child is born, and operate as if we had never been engaged in the creation of a new human being. This is a pretty remarkable accomplishment, and yet the world around us takes it all in stride. Just another day at the office.
While I am proud to have played a role in paving the way for women’s equality in the workforce, the end result has not been what we expected. The pressures on women have multiplied at home, even as our titles and pay levels grow at work.
I am not excusing Washeka’s behavior. It is deplorable, and yet, should we be surprised?