On a recent episode of “Oprah: Where Are They Now?” Oprah Winfrey caught up with Ayelet Waldman, the writer who created a shit storm ten years ago when she wrote a piece for the New York Times in which she said that she loved her husband more than she loved her children. More than a couple of panties got bunched up over that one. And while I respect her and support her right to feel however she wants, I completely disagree with her.
In Winfrey’s follow up, Waldman stood behind her words from 2005, when she said:
“So many women today have become so focused on their children, they’ve developed these romantic entanglements with their children’s lives and the husbands are secondary. They’re left out. You guys know Valentine’s Day at your kids’ schools… All the moms come in with perfect, frosted pink cupcakes that they’ve made with their kids… Is Valentine’s a day to make cupcakes with your children? No, Valentine’s is supposed to be a day about romantic love.”
Ayelet, I love you. I respect you greatly as a writer. But for me, that’s a whole mess of bullshit. (And, my husband and I could give less than a shit about Valentine’s Day. It’s the worst. Also, I love cupcakes.)
I love my children more than I love my husband. They know that, because they’ve asked. I love my kids more than any single other thing on this earth, including myself. I don’t say that to be a mommy martyr, but because it’s true. If I had to choose between my husband and my kids, my husband would be a goner, and he has no problem with that.
It’s true that you have to nurture your relationship and that it is important for kids to see that you and your partner love each other. And I love my husband very much. I don’t believe in soul mates, but I cannot imagine having a happier life with anyone else on earth. He’s the peanut butter to my jelly. But my kids come first. We both feel that way, and that doesn’t take anything away from our marriage. If anything, it bonds us even closer together because we know we are in this thing together. We are working together through the occasionally shitty moments of parenting because that is more important than us right now.
Waldman said in her 2005 essay that while she could see life beyond her kids if anything happened to them, she could not see her life without her husband. I too can’t imagine ever having joy in my life again if I lost my husband. But I would have a hard time living at all if anything happened to my kids. (Again, I’m not trying to be sanctimommy, I’m just telling the truth.)
Waldman has an awesome marriage and a rip-roaring sex life, and my hat is off to her. I just can’t relate to her values in this case. I love my children more than I love my husband, and that’s appropriate. He’s an adult. He can take care of himself. He understands what it means to love a child more than the world. My kids know about love through us. We are the ones who protect them, care for them, and love them above all else. They need that from us, and they get. One hundred percent.
(Photo: Smailhodzic / Shutterstock)