Chirlane McCray's Struggles With Motherhood Become Tabloid Fodder

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chirlaneembedPhoto: BFANYC.com.
Chirlane McCray, the wife of Mayor Bill de Blasio, is on the cover of this week's New York magazine, in which she discusses her multiples roles as activist, mother, and First Lady of New York City.

At one point, she describes the conflict that she, like many new mothers, faced when she became pregnant at age 40 with her daughter, Chiara de Blasio. "But the truth is, I could not spend every day with her," McCray tells New York's Lisa Miller. "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."

A number of local news outlets picked up on the story, including the New York Post. On Monday, with a front-page headline that read "I WAS A BAD MOM!" The Daily News followed suit with "Didn't Want To Be A Mom."

The Post's Bruce Golding interpreted McCray's candid statements as a confession that she "initially neglected Chiara, who last year dropped the bombshell that she was in treatment for abusing booze and pot," and went so far as to write that the interview was "bound to horrify most moms."

But Chiara, who recently received an award from outgoing secretary of health and human services Kathleen Sebelius, has never blamed her parents for her drug and alcohol issues. In fact, Chiara said in December, "My mom was trying really hard to help me, just like any little thing she could, and my dad was doing the same, but obviously he was really busy, but they were both very emotionally committed to trying to figure out some way to get me better."

Mayor de Blasio said yesterday that he found the coverage of the New York story "disturbing and inappropriate," reports The New York Times, and specifically called out the tabloids. "I think both the Post and the Daily News owe Chirlane an apology," de Blasio said. "I think they owe all of us an apology for absolutely misrepresenting what she said and for caricaturing a reality that I think so many women face." The papers' articles, he said, "suggested tremendous misunderstanding of what it is to be a parent, what it is to be a mother."

“I love my wife very deeply," he went on. "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."

The Post has not, as of this morning, responded to the Mayor's comments, though it did publish them in an article today. The Daily News, meanwhile, took a more defensive tack. Its features editor Raakhee Mirchandani claims that "when the coverage didn’t read like a Hallmark card, the First Family followed its all too disturbing pattern: It blamed the media."

"So trust me, I’m right there with McCray," writes Mirchandani in today's edition. "Like Chirlane, I don’t want to spend all day, every day, with my glorious baby girl. As most moms, new and seasoned, would agree, we’re more than that. But I’m not 'looking for all kinds of reasons' to avoid my baby either."

For balance, however, the Daily News also spoke to New York mothers who have experienced the same difficulties as McCray. "[Being] a mother is taxing," said one. "I wouldn’t shame anyone for needing to take time.”