Feature

Motherhood: When good moms flip out

Madlyn Primoff of Scarsdale, N.Y., kicked her two daughters out of the car when she became fed-up with their bickering; she was later arrested for child endangerment and spent the night in jail.

“Every parent has been there,” said Peter Applebome in The New York Times. You’re in the car, already frazzled, and the kids are in the back seat, bickering and yelling. Finally, you blow your stack, and tell the kids that if they make one more sound, you’re booting them out of the car. Madlyn Primoff of Scarsdale, N.Y., has made headlines around the world because she actually gave in to that impulse. Fed up with the back-seat bickering of her two daughters, Primoff—a well-to-do Park Avenue lawyer—recently kicked the girls, ages 10 and 12, out of the car in the busy commercial district of nearby White Plains. While the older girl eventually caught up with the car and got back in, the younger one did not, and wound up at the police station. When Primoff went to retrieve her, she was promptly arrested on a charge of child endangerment, and spent the night in jail.  As a frazzled mom, I certainly empathize with Primoff’s frustration, said Lisa Belkin in The New York Times Online. “There is something about children and confined spaces” that can drive you insane. Granted, we’re “supposed to count to three and gather our wits.” But Primoff dumped the kids in a busy downtown, not a remote area or an urban slum, and her lawyer says she did try to find the 10-year-old, driving home only when the search failed. Whatever the facts, I have to wonder why the cops put this mother in jail for a night and slapped her with a temporary restraining order keeping her from her children. One terrible moment does not a bad mom make.

So why the urge to brand Primoff with a “scarlet M?” asked Romi Lassally in Huffingtonpost.com. It’s because high-powered women like Primoff are “supposed to kick butt at work with a Fembot-like smile” then play the domestic goddess “in an apron and high heels cooking organic dinners for the whole family.” When you’re a woman with a big job and a nice house, you’re supposed to be happy about Having It All. You can’t complain, and you certainly can’t scream at the kids. Take a look at my website, TruuMOMconfessions.com, where moms admit to each other outbursts and behavior that they have to hide from the world, lest they be branded bad moms. Primoff is not alone. Modern mothers face tremendous pressure to be perfect in every way, and sometimes, those expectations make “otherwise sane women” do some very crazy things.

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