Written by Anya
You may or may not have heard the name Ayelet Waldman before. Perhaps you know Ms. Waldman as the author of the “Mommy-Track Mysteries.” Or possibly you know her as the wife of Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon. Or maybe the name Ayelet Waldman rings a bell as the woman who ignited a controversy a few years back when she wrote an essay confiding the following: “If a good mother is one who loves her child more than anyone else in the world, I am not a good mother. I am in fact a bad mother. I love my husband more than I love my children.”
Waldman’s bracing honesty and over analyzing can be a bit much, but I find myself feeling a certain admiration for her and a bit defensive on her behalf. In her new book Waldman reprints some of the nastiest letters she has received from readers including this gem. “Ayelet Waldman is, in layman’s terms, a FREAK. I hope her remittance goes directly into some kind of trust fund to pay for her poor kid’s future psychotherapy.” Ouch.
Waldman pulls me into her world view with an account of a fall her child suffered and a subsequent interaction with a fan after a reading. “A woman comes up to me afterwards and says, ‘Ninety-eight percent of men in prison had serious falls as children — you have to get her cranio-therapy…’ And I think, she’s going to jail, she’s going to be a violent criminal, this is what I did. I take responsibility for the bad stuff. The good stuff, I think is just them, but I’m responsible for the bad stuff.”
So I remain somewhat on the fence about Waldman. On one hand, I think many mothers will appreciate the candor of her writing and find solace in it. On the other hand, much of her writing seems self-indulgent and some of the personal details regarding her children could prove embarrassing to them. A large part of me doesn’t understand her ostensible need to share the best and worst of her family’s interior life. In the final analysis, however, I think Waldman has something to add to the continuing dialogue regarding motherhood.