Confessions of a Bad Mother

Ayelet Waldman created quite a controversy when she wrote an article for the New York Times proclaiming that she loved her children but she wasn’t in love with them–she was in love with her husband (who happens to be Michael Chabon). The article set off a firestorm on blogs and listservs and even on the Oprah Winfrey show.

My colleague, Susan, turned me on to Ayelet’s site and now defunct blog. I still periodically check her Booklog, and am endlessly impressed that a mother of four who writes still manages to read so much. I also find her one or two line reviews charming.

Waldman is not afraid to speak her mind, to say what might be unpopular. She is provocative, honest, polarizing. She is not afraid to be herself.

It is unsurprising then that her new book of essays on parenting, Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minot Calamities, and Occasional Moments of Grace, lays bare her life as a parent warts-and-all.

But by naming her book Bad Mother, she is also calling into question our culture’s penchant for judgement, and in particular, the damning judgement that women lay upon other women, especially mothers on other mothers. She posits the question: is it possible to be a good mother in this day in age, with some many competing notions and philosophies of what that might mean?

From essays ranging to the alternately soothing and toxic parenting communities on the Web, to the decision to abort a child with a genetic abnormality, to figuring out how not to bring baggage from your own childhood into your parenting decisions, Waldman provides thought-provoking dialogue around some pretty emotional issues.

Which is why Bad Mother would be perfect for discussion. For one, Ayelet Waldman has a strong personality. She doesn’t play it safe in these essays, which is what makes them interesting. She makes it clear where she is coming from and how she came to be the parent and the partner that she is. By opening herself and her family to more scrutiny and judgement, she gives parents everywhere the chance to discuss, question and learn. You may not like her, but you can’t argue with her candor.



About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

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