Secret Feelings Moms Don’t Say


There’s been this writer/mom making the rounds in the NYC media lately: Ayelet Waldman. I first heard about her in this interview with WNYC radio host, Leonard Lopate. The second mention of her appeared yesterday, as I read through the Sunday Times’ Book Review while waiting at the doctor’s office. This time, Waldman’s book, Bad Mother, was reviewed.

I’ve no clue whether Waldman’s name–and more importantly, What! She! Said! (gasp!)–has made it into your media diet, but I’ve been fascinated (and more than a little frightened) by the way people (women, especially) have reacted to Waldman.

In a nutshell: By her own account, Waldman has an extraordinary marriage. She has a wonderful, supportive husband who works (he’s writer Michael Chabon) AND helps with the housework. They have hot sex (she describes their sex life as “vital, even torrid… more exciting and imaginative now than it was when we first met,” which I love). She adores him. He adores her. They understand each other and they enjoy each other.

And for God’s sake, what’s wrong with that?

Isn’t that what most women want out of their marriages?

She isn’t blind to the man’s defects, which she listed in this 2005 essay in the Times:

“he can also be scatterbrained, antisocial and arrogant. He is a bad dancer, and he knows far too much about Klingon politics and the lyrics to Yes songs. All in all, he’s not that much better than other men.”

Waldman and her husband also have four children.

And it’s her attitude about her children that has infuriated many women:

“I love my husband more than I love my children.”

She goes on to explain what she means–that she is in love with her husband, but not in love with her children, that she loves her children, but that she and her husband form a core around which the children are satellites. She has a compelling argument… which is interesting but all gets lost because moms hear the “I love my husband more than I love my children” line and that’s all she wrote.

This poor woman has been raked over the coals, called a horrible mother, publicly excoriated… and who knows? Maybe even Administration for Children’s Services has been called on her.

But (though our child isn’t born yet), I think I get what Waldman’s saying. And I think it’s a damn shame that women don’t trust themselves or one another enough to let each other say the secret feelings that they hold inside.


One response »

  1. I have three kids and totally agree. I remember holding my first and telling my husband that I love her, adore her, would die for her, but that it is not anything like the love I have for him.

    Unlike the author, I did not choose to share this with others. :o)

    Nice post!

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