Full Disclosure: I have never seen an episode of Bethenny Getting Married. I’m barely even fluent in Real Housewives. But even I know enough about Bethenny Frankel to know that she is not the type of woman to behave the way other women want her to.
Why then, are people so surprised to see the way she parents? It seems to me like she’s acting pretty much same about this as she does about everything else. She’s got some strong ideas. And then there are the times that she doesn’t, when she’s willing to risk looking like an idiot (on TV). From the little exposure I’ve allowed myself, it seems like that’s the thing people seemed to love about Bethenny. One minute she’s bossy and brassy. The next she’s clueless, and a bit vulnerable.
Feel free to shame me if I’m wrong. I take no pride in my split-second knee-jerk reality TV psychoanalysis. But I have noticed a swell of Bethenny backlash lately, even from people who championed her in previous seasons. The negativity coincides with her new series, and may just be a result of a general overdose of Bethennism. But I do wonder if this Bethenny backlash isn’t related to how her personality translates to motherhood, and might say something deeper about what people expect from mothers in general. Case (or cases) in point:
In the past few days there have been several blogs complaining about Bethenny’s bad parenting. Clearly, if you let the world into how you act via reality TV, you’re setting yourself up for critique. But some of these crits shared a common theme: how Bethenny was failing to pass the Mommy Test.
One site went down the list of pregnancy and breastfeeding no-nos that Bethenny blew off on camera. She ate mussels while pregnant, not to mention bleu cheese. She also drank beer in the early days of breastfeeding. The piece implies that Bethenny may actually have caused her daughter’s premature birth with these questionable behaviors. There could theoretically a connection if she were drinking more than occasionally. But does a slug of beer translate to a regular pregnant drinking habit?
Another piece gets even more personal. This blogger watched an hour of Lost Footage From Bethenny’s Getting Married and can’t stop talking about how much it sucked. To which I say: DUH. When have you seen a “lost footage” episode from a reality show that did not suck? But for her, the problem seems to be what the footage has revealed about Bethenny herself: “Her questions to anyone she talks to about the baby are moronic. She really is clueless, and is the perfect example of someone who is just not cut out to be a mother.”
Yes, Bethenny may have many personality traits (disorders?) that could complicate things for her as a mother. But as far as I’m concerned, being clueless is not an impediment to excellent parenting. Being clueless, and acknowledging your cluelessness, means you are open to learning and finding better ways of doing things. Knowing a little more about kids now than I did when I had them, I still think I’d rather be a mother who’s always seeking new clues than one who thinks she’s got all the answers from the start.
And who’s to say who’s “cut out to be a mother” and who isn’t? What are we, paper dolls?
photo: Andrew Todd/flickr