Profile of Ayelet Waldman, Who Wrote 'Bad Mother'

By Bob Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 5, 2009

BERKELEY, Calif. -- 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," came the explanation.

Another friend called from Chicago.

"Ayelet, what the [expletive] have you done?" Waldman recalls her whispering. "I'm sitting at a Starbucks and the women at the next table are just tearing you to shreds."

Ripping, tearing, shredding: It seemed to be a trend. 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."

The e-mail onslaught was scary.

"People were telling me that they were going to report me to the Department of Social Services, that my children should be taken away," Waldman says. Later she found a note on her gate expressing similar sentiments and adding, unnecessarily, "I know where you live."

Inevitably, she went on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." While getting made up, she heard "a kind of shrieking" in the background. "What is that?" she asked a producer. Turned out it was the studio audience awaiting its chance to rip, tear and shred.

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