If you haven’t heard of WhyMommy (aka Susan Niebur), you should check out her site.

Susan is a mother, astrophysicist, cancer survivor and ambassador of hope. She embodies a beautiful blend of heart and intelligence.

Her post today, “Gifts”, set my mind in focus this morning. I hope it does the same for you.

You can subscribe to her blog and/or follow her on Twitter under @whymommy.


I’ve read another book that I love.  And I hope some of you will read it and discuss it with me.  We can call it the lazy mom’s book club.

When my three kids were toddler and babies, I inhaled essays in what little time I could carve out, especially those by mothers who told the ugly truths you don’t hear on the playground.  By that time I had developed an allergy to parenting books and forever sworn off parenting magazines.  TV seemed an impossible luxury, so I turned to drinking and reading for entertainment.  It worked beautifully.

One of those collections was Because I Said So, and in it “Motherlove” by Ayelet Waldman.  In Waldman’s essay she essentially confesses to loving her husband more than her children.  Seemed like a great idea to me – I had heard in many venues how crucial it is to the family unit for the parents to have a strong relationship, not just a tolerable one.

When I finished the collection, I passed it on to others and never remembered the author’s name.  Recently a friend mentioned this “controversial essay” and it sounded familiar.  Apparently it was also published in New York Times Magazine (see hyperlink above) and the author promptly skewered in the public eye.  I watched no TV in those days so I had no idea.

With my memory refreshed, I found Waldman’s recently published book of essays on motherhood.  I went right out and got my hot little hands on it, smitten with the title right away – Bad Mother.  The honesty in this collection makes that other essay insignificant.  Or as Waldman puts it in an interview with “Time”, “You thought I was a bad mother then? Well wait for the book, baby.”

But Waldman is no bad mother, though many may disagree.  She is a human being who has discovered in the thick of her role as mother how impossible it is at times to know the right path, even in hindsight.  In the beginning she tells of her motivation for sharing such private details about her life and her mothering, and they match mine so closely I want to hug the woman.

I believe mothers should tell the truth, even – no especially – when the truth is difficult.  It’s always easier and in the short term can even feel right, to pretend everything is okay, and to encourage your children to do the same.  But concealment leads to shame, and of all hurts shame is the most painful.  Only if you name a problem, confront it head-on, drag it into the light, does it become surmountable.

She goes on to say this, which I am sure I will tell my children verbatim:

I always tell my kids that as soon as you have a secret, something about you that you are ashamed to have others find out, you have given other people the power to hurt you by exposing you.

So to you mothers and fathers out there who ever felt inadequate in the face of raising another human being, I highly recommend this book.