Ayelet Waldman

Ayelet Waldman has been known for a few things. Some knew her as a Harvard-trained public defender. More knew her as "Michael Chabon’s wife," even though she’s an established writer herself; she is the author of "Daughter’s Keeper, "Love and Other Impossible Pursuits" and the Mommy-Track murder-mystery series, as well as articles for various publications and anthologies. But when she wrote an essay in the New York Times a few years ago, one in which she admitted that she loved her husband more than her four children — and still enjoyed having sex with him — suddenly, everyone knew her. She was a "bad mother." So Waldman turned that experience and those of other so-called "bad mothers" — Britney Spears among them — into her first non-fiction book, the just-released Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace, a wrenchingly honest (she reveals that she’s bipolar, that some of her children have learning issues, and that she had a late-term abortion), self-deprecating, humorous and insightful look at motherhood today.


Ayelet Waldman, 44, Michael Chabon and their children — Sophie, Zeke, Rosie and Abe — live in Berkeley, Calif. And, yes, she still is madly in love with her husband — and her kids, too.


photo by Stephanie Rausser



I have a friend who, after trying for years, is finally pregnant. I can't decide if I should give her What to Expect When You're Expecting or Bad Mother. Should first-time moms-to-be read it?


Absolutely! The real message of the book is, don't beat up on yourself, to trust yourself and to enjoy the moment. It should be required reading.


A lot of moms have gotten help and support from mommy bloggers. But, as you mention, there are a lot of judgments and insults being hurled around. Do you think mommy bloggers are making things worse for women, or should we just roll our eyes and close our laptops?


It's making things better and worse. For purely practical information, it's terrific to have. I never would have successfully pumped [milk for breastfeeding] for six months. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't have pumped for six months if there weren't this generalized hysteria about breastfeeding. You have to pick and choose and try to avoid the places that get comments filled with toxicity.


I loved the book, Bad Mother. What makes it moving and resonant is that she admits stuff that might be considered ugly. We all have "ugly" feelings sometimes. Nothing wrong with it. Hence the ironic title of the book. (She doesn't really think of herself as a 'bad mother'.)
And I don't think we can ever judge another for their feelings. And I think it is courageous to admit to feelings that might be deemed unpopular. No need to judge!


I find it hurtful towards her children that this woman admitted she loved her husband more than them.
Differently, of course! But more? Really? I am shocked. I don't know one other woman that feels this way and I have asked all my Mommy friends. Hmmmm,could this be a marketing ploy?