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Before you stop me, take a moment to think about that night last week when your toddler pooped in the tub. Or when your third-grader had what seemed like the umpteenth event during the middle of the school day that required you to drop what you were doing and run over to her classroom. Or that time your teenager totaled the car.
And who can forget the late nights spent breastfeeding until your nipples bled.
That's why I take issue with New York Daily News columnist Raakhee Mirchandani, who calls out Chirlane McCray, New York City's first lady, for an interview with New York Magazine in which she admits to not enjoying motherhood.
McCray, who is married to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, tells New York Magazine that she was flummoxed by new motherhood at age 40 and confesses that " . . . the truth is, I could not spend every day with her. I didn't want to do that. I looked for all kinds of reasons not to do it."
Her honesty earned her a brutal headline in the New York Post: "I WAS A BAD MOM!'
Mirchandani says she can't blame McCray for feeling overwhelmed, but that as a new mom herself, she is shocked by McCray's choice of words and that the first lady should not be surprised by the backlash, considering how she talks about motherhood:
"I just got back from maternity leave Monday, and heading back to the Daily News newsroom after six months of full-time mommying was confusing. Like Chirlane, I don't want to spend all day, every day, with my glorious baby girl. As most moms, new and seasoned, would agree — we're more than that. But I'm not 'looking for all kinds of reasons' to avoid my baby either."
What sticks in the columnist's craw, apparently, is that McCary is upset that the media took her statement and ran with it. I happened upon this story while in the car to one of the seemingly endless errands that make up a parent's days and had a chance to listen to Mirchandani opine about McCary's statement and the public reaction to it. During an interview with NPR, she said she was "shocked" by the language used to describe the desperation of new motherhood.
She then went on to make the statement that, yes, she herself was back at work six months after giving birth to her first child, but she never intended to be a "full-time mother" in the first place, so it was A-OK for her to head back to the office and hand off her kid to a babysitter.
Say what? I'm sorry, once you give birth, you're a full-time mom, all the time. You don't cease to have a child the minute you walk out the door. You are a mother 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until the end of time once that baby comes out of your body.
And news flash: sometimes it really, really stinks.
This kind of slippery play with language does nothing but further the acrimony between women with children. Labels of all kinds diminish the role we play in our families' lives. I happen to have been a working mom who went to the office, a mom who stayed at home, and a mom who worked in the home with a flexible schedule — and I can promise you that, no matter what I was doing on the days when those labels applied to me, I was a full-time mom every single second.
The same goes for fathers. Leaving for work doesn't negate the relationship they have with their kids.
This silly war of the words has to stop. I am so proud of McCray for saying what so many of us have felt, particularly women who have suffered from postpartum depression. I recall one afternoon when my then-3-year-old peed on the family room floor, and my infant wouldn't stop wailing. I called my husband at work and said, "I can't do this. Come home."
He did, and we were all fine, and I was still a mom, even though in that moment of desperation, I wished with all my heart I was 21 years old and blissfully carefree.
McCray had a rough go at first, she says, and she was honest about it. While I understand Mirchandani's point about not crying foul when the media takes your words and runs with them, she's a rookie mom who might not have had her rock-bottom moment yet. Her time will come, and I hope she's careful about who she expresses that to, because karma is a harsh mistress.
More great reads from BabyCenter:
Mom's touching photos detail her daughter's cancer battle
How to get grandparents more involved
The top three safety concerns for your toddler
Fifty-eight things to think about while rocking your baby to sleep
Source: Flickr user alenka_getman