Being a Lady of the Day (aka, unemployed) means that I have the occasional moment to sit and watch Oprah while eating cereal in the morning. Monday morning I watched Jon Stewart cavort with Oprah until we were rudely interrupted by the Conclave; this morning it was a mother’s shocking confession that…she loves her husband more than her children.
Yes, Ayelet Waldman (wife to Michael Chabon) made the stunning announcement that she is in love with her husband and not her children; that if he died she would be devastated while, if one of her children died (God forbid), she could dare to imagine a life for herself. The stay at home mothers gasped in horror as if she had said, I would stab all of my children and drink their blood rather than be apart from my husband.
These mothers were horrified that she, another mother, could pick her spouse rather than her child; one woman had even asked her own daughter what she would think if she knew her mommy loved daddy more and brought a note to the show to chastise Waldman – ‘Bad mommy,’ she said. (What an inappropriate question to ask a child.) The outrage and insecurity these women showed seemed out of place to me.
In the essay that sparked the discussion, Waldman had written:“…my husband will say that we, he and I, are the core of what he cherishes, that the children are satellites, beloved but tangential.”
It was this marginalization of the child that outraged the mothers in Oprah’s studio; how could she say that, they cried. How could she call herself a good mother when she’s told her kids they don’t matter to her? Their blatant misunderstanding of Waldman’s position aside, my roomie and I found the other women’s attempts to get her to reorient her passions toward her children away from her life partner bizarre and rather cult-like.
It seems logical to me that a woman would feel for her husband more than her child(ren). Yes, I’m blatantly commitment-phobic but there is enough of a Catherine/Heathcliff-type romantic in me who thinks that’s the whole point of being in a relationship: to shout to the world that the metaphysically impossible has happened. You’ve met your soulmate.
I remember a day when it was made very clear to me and my sister that our father loved our mother more than he loved us. We had discovered a part of our mother’s past – a secret that my father had known all along; feeling hurt and betrayed we confronted him – how could he keep something like that from us, his children? My father’s answer was firm and quiet.
‘She and I – we – chose each other,’ he said to us. ‘That woman is my wife and I will not stand for anyone, not even you, stepping in between that.’ My father’s love and loyalty, we learned, was absolutely unwavering, as was my mother’s for him. My sister and I, as loved as we were, stood outside of their circle, only curious observers to what happened inside of it.
I’ve never been a mother so I can’t speak to the special bond one feels when breast feeding, blah blah blah. However, feeling so much passion for my partner it turns me into an oddity at Gymboree?
Sounds good to me.
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