That kicky Ayelet Waldman! First she developed a following with a fairly beloved series gently known as the mommytrack mysteries. Then, pretty much while things were swimming, she wrote an essay — published by The New York Times — that raised the ire of many of her fans. From a Washington Post piece by Bob Thompson that ran in time for Mother’s Day:
The morning after Ayelet Waldman’s infamous essay was published, she got a call from a friend who warned: Don’t watch “The View.”
Waldman never watched the ABC chatfest anyway. But so what? Why shouldn’t she watch it now? “Because Star Jones is ripping you to shreds.”
Ripping, tearing, shredding: Time to fire up the computer and see what was going on. “I’ve never seen so many e-mails in an inbox,” she says.
And all because she’d admitted — no, asserted! publicly! in The New York Times ! — that there was someone more important in her life than her four beloved kids.
“If a good mother is one who loves her child more than anyone else in the world, I am not a good mother,” Waldman wrote in a March 27, 2005, Modern Love column. “I am in fact a bad mother. I love my husband more than I love my children.”
And never mind that the husband in question is literary hottie Michael Chabon (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, The Yiddish Policeman’s Union), Waldman’s fans — as well as the legions of new detractors she picked up in the wake of the essay’s publication — wanted their pound of flesh.
A couple of years later, Waldman still hadn’t gotten over the fury she’d aroused. One day she was venting to her friend Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, when he said, “Why don’t you just shut up and write a book?”
Which, of course, she ultimately did. Bad Mother (Doubleday) was published just in time for Mother’s Day and seems unlikely to set angry tongues to rest. As Thompson says in his Post piece:
The book takes off from what Waldman calls the “Bad Mother perp walk” she let herself in for with her “I love my husband more” heresy. It explores the intense cultural anxiety on the subject of motherhood as well as Waldman’s personal history, touching on topics ranging from ridiculous homework assignments to the way motherhood first turned Waldman into a writer, then changed the nature of what she wrote.