In a lengthy cover story in this week’s New York magazine, Mr. de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray ,opened up about some of the difficulties she faced adjusting to motherhood after her daughter Chiara was born.
“I was 40 years old. I had a life. Especially with Chiara—will we feel guilt forever more? Of course, yes. But the truth is, I could not spend every day with her,” she told the magazine. “I didn’t want to do that. I looked for all kinds of reason not to do it. … It took a long time for me to get into ‘I’m taking care of kids,’ and what that means.”
As Jill Colvin at Politicker reported, the tabloids were just brutal this morning:
The New York Post zeroed in on the passage, slapping the story on its wood under the headline “I WAS A BAD MOM!”
“New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, didn’t much care for her new role as a mother after daughter Chiara was born — and looked for any excuse to keep away from her little girl,” the tabloid charged. “In a startlingly frank confession, Mayor de Blasio’s wife says she was unable to embrace motherhood and initially neglected Chiara, who last year dropped the bombshell that she was in treatment for abusing booze and pot. … The disclosure — bound to horrify most moms — shatters the carefully crafted image of de Blasio’s close-knit family, which helped vault him into office.”The Daily News offered a similar–though less negative take–headlining its story, “Didn’t want to be a mom.”Appearing visibly shaken by the remarks, Mr. de Blasio slammed both papers for their treatment of his wife’s comments.“It really suggests a tremendous misunderstanding of what it is to be a parent, what it is to be a mother. I love my wife very deeply and she is an extraordinary mother. She always has been. She very much wanted to have children, which is evident in the New York magazine article, if anyone cares to read it and not caricature,” he said, heaping praise on her ability to handle intense family pressures.
“I over the years have marveled at her ability to take care of our two kids with such love, while having to do–in the middle of all that–the incredibly difficult work of helping both our mothers as they came to ends of their lives, while oftentimes having to have a full-time job,” he said.
Two things to say here:
First, I'm not surprised by the story McCray told New York Magazine about her troubles adjusting to her parenting role.
When McCray's and de Blasio's daughter, Chiara, announced last year that she had struggled with drug and alcohol problems, you knew then that something had happened in the past within the de Blasio household that was at odds with the P.R. image displayed during the campaign.
As someone who comes from a family where people have struggled with drugs and alcohol, I can tell you that few kids pick up a drink or a drug and begin using compulsively unless there's some deep, deep pain there that they're trying to anesthetize.
That said, I can't think of any family unit I have ever known where there wasn't some mistakes made by the parents that hurt the children and later needed to be worked out.
I dunno, maybe you know the perfect family where that didn't happen.
But I'm not surprised that the de Blasio family wasn't like that nor do I think less of them for it.
In fact, I think more of Chirlane McCray for being open about her flaws and her failures in the past as a parent and I think even more of Chiara de Blasio for getting sober as a teen and trying to work through the emotional and spiritual pain that brought her to addiction in the first place.
That's my human response to this story.
Second thing to say:
Putting my political observer's hat on, however, all I have to say is, Mayor de Blasio has got to get some decent P.R. people hired to keep a cap on the negative stories that spew out of this administration like water at an open fire hydrant in July.
It's great to be open and honest, but I wish Chirlane McCray had chosen a later date to get this open and honest with New York Magazine.
There have been way too many negative stories already out of the de Blasio administration since January, and now here's another one they have to deal with.
These are unforced errors, but they add up to real political damage.