Working Mothers Are Firing Back at New York Tabloids' Mom-Shaming

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New York Post and New York Daily News are taking fire from mothers of all ages after the tabloids mischaracterized comments from NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, about her life as a new mother and inadvertently exposed a hard truth about parenting. 

McCray, the wife of mayor Bill de Blasio, was profiled in a lengthy New York magazine piece on released on Sunday that detailed her formative years. Like a lot of modern women, McCray had difficulty transitioning from an independent working woman to a full-time mother to her children, Chiara and Dante.

"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. I didn’t want to do that. I looked for all kinds of reason not to do it. I love her. I have thousands of photos of her—every 1-month birthday, 2-month birthday. But I’ve been working since I was 14, and that part of me is me. It took a long time for me to get into 'I'm taking care of kids,' and what that means."

The quotes are a mix of emotions. On the one hand, she feels guilt for not always being there every minute with her child, yet she also struggled with changing her identity as a working woman. These comments and the profile at large give an insightful reflection at the pulling forces and pressures of parenting that so often falls more on mothers than fathers.

But in blunt headlines, the city tabloids badly misinterpreted the admission. "I WAS A BAD MOM" read the front page of the Post next to a picture of McCray. "The disclosure — bound to horrify most moms — shatters the carefully crafted image of de Blasio’s close-knit family," the story read. The Daily News, too, wrote along similar lines. "Didn’t want to be a mom," their headline said. Neither of those statements were direct quotes from McCray, though they implied that they were the crux of her argument.

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Even non-mothers recognized the unfairness of it all. 

The mayor quickly criticized those headlines and demanded an apology on behalf of his wife. "It suggests a tremendous misunderstanding of what it means to be a parent, what it means to be a mother," de Blasio said, according to the New York Times. 

The New Yorker, too, came out firing against that mom-shaming on Monday. "Is there such a thing as a good mother, in the eyes of the New York Post? It would appear ... that there is not — not in this city, not in this world." Even the Daily News' own writers Megan Monk and Nicole Lyn Pesce tracked down New York mothers who related to McCray's admission. "I’m not embarrassed to say out loud that having a baby is very difficult," one new mom told the Daily News. "It’s awesome that Chirlane is talking about this and making it less taboo."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.