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When I had my first baby, my mother helped out for a month. I cried when she flew home to the opposite
coast—how was I supposed to figure out any of this parenting stuff on my
own? Luckily, I found an amazing mom's group run by Jill Spivack—star of the new Bravo reality show, "There Goes the Motherhood." We met once a week to learn about child development, compare
milestones, ask embarrassing questions and bare our fragile new-mommy souls to
a roomful of strangers who would soon become friends.
After many sessions of mommy group, I can tell you that Jill
has truly improved my parenting game, from managing toddler tantrums
to getting my stubborn babies to sleep through the night (she co-authored the
popular and highly effective baby sleep guide, "The Sleepeasy Solution"). So I'm a huge fan, and clearly not the
only one. When "There Goes the Motherhood" premiered last week, Jill's celebrity clientele
was out in force tweeting their support, including Jaime King, Tiffani Thiessen, Jenna Dewan Tatum and Elizabeth Berkeley.
As for the show—I'm hooked after one episode. It's got all
the interpersonal drama and glamorous locations I love watching on Real
Housewives, but instead of just drinking and shopping the whole time, these
ladies are actually parenting their kids. You know, brushing their teeth and handling potty accidents (while being
fabulous, of course.) After watching, I was dying to call Jill for
some scoop. Here's what we talked
Jill, I love the show so
far—especially the way it depicts some of the challenges of motherhood and the trade-offs you have to make.
One of the goals of the show is to peel back the veil on
motherhood and stop having everyone walking around like, "Oh, this is so perfect
and I'm so perfect" and just be able to be real and admit that nobody is perfect
and there is no such thing as perfection. There are a lot of struggles around
the whole journey of motherhood—not just raising your kids but what happens with
your relationship and your career and having to make choices that are really,
really hard. These women are really opening up and sharing
that stuff, even if it's not PC sometimes.
When the moms are getting ready to go to Stefanie's barbecue, they're all worried about the
same thing: how will their kids behave? Does bringing kids to a social event put added pressure on moms?
I think that mothers have this idea that If they were good
enough, their kids would always be these well-mannered,
perfectly behaved children and the biggest lesson of motherhood is that we don't
have control over things like that. We fool ourselves, thinking they will have
perfect manners. We can hope for things and we can try to teach them, but we do
not have 100% control.
We have to stop judging
each other. When we see that kid in the market screaming his head off, we need
to sympathize and understand. There's
too much judgment and a lot of pressure on moms and it's just not within our control. A lot of us who are mothers have gone from being A-type women
and we go A-typing into motherhood and try to have as much control and impact
as we had in our careers and it doesn't work that way with kids. Kids are separate people with their own minds
and ideas. We can shape them, but we can't
control it all the way.
Speaking of judgment,
at the party, Jen confronts Meghan about the way she makes fun of her own kids
on Facebook, jokingly calling them idiots.
In the case of Meghan and the things she was saying about
her kids, Meghan is a mom who shoots from the hip and is not uptight and she
thinks as long as there's no blood at the end of the day, she's doing really well. And we've got this other mother, Jen, with a
very different parenting style who's very concerned about every move she makes
with this child—what she feeds him, what kind of school he goes to, and that
they don't have technology or colorful toys—and she's got a very serious
agenda of how she wants to raise him. So
you see the juxtaposition of these parenting styles side-by-side and it just
threw Jen into a tizzy. If you see a style of parenting this different
from your own, it can really push some hot buttons for you.
After watching the
premiere, I went online to see what the media was saying about the show. The tabloids were all running stories about Stefanie
Fairlocking her kidsin their bedrooms at night. What's going on there?
If you know Stefanie, the truth is she lives in a very large
house. Her master bedroom is two floors above her kids' rooms. From a pure safety
perspective, she doesn't want them roaming around the hallways. She felt the
safest thing was to keep them in their rooms, with cameras on them. It was not about abuse. She really is an
excellent mother. Maybe if I didn't know
and understand Stefanie, I'd be surprised at that as well, without any back story. But knowing Stefanie, I know the truth. She was completely out for their kids'
safety and the kids would even ask her to do it. Like, "Is it latched?" it made them feel
The "next on" teased
some pretty juicy stuff. Should I have
Kleenex at the ready when Beth tells her kids about the divorce?
It's intense. It's really intense. Beth came into the group and mentioned to
everyone that she was splitting up from her husband. I talked to Beth about it
and asked her if the kids understood what was going on and she said not
really. She was afraid to upset them,
which is a really natural response to the situation. She was trying to protect her kids' feelings. But as a therapist, I know that when there is something that big going on and
children are not told in an age-appropriate way, they still know that things
are going on and that there is stress in their family. They go inwards with it and start imagining
all sorts of things, like, "I was a bad boy and I must have split them up" or "Is
my daddy ever coming back?"
Beth needed a huge wake-up call, as in, "They need to be told,
and they need to be told now. I'm going
to help you tell them and I'll be there with you when you tell them, but you need
to tell them." So we'll see that in episode 5.
What else can we look
forward to this season?
It goes deep, man. You get some really intense back story
about these women that makes you understand them a whole lot better and
empathize with them quite a bit. It's