When I wrote a blog post for the online portal mommyish.com, I had no idea it would erupt into a fever pitch of proselytizing and pandering that would spread across North America faster than a mustard stain on my cashmere sweater, culminating in my five minutes of infamy in Times Square during Good Morning America.
And it was all because I thought it wise to write about leaving my 10-week-old baby in the care of my mother and nanny while I took a short vacation. Oh the controversial life I lead.
“You are so famous,” my friend wrote to me in e-mail. She continued, “The whole of Times Square is talking about you!”
I was at the hospital when the e-mail arrived. So, yes, I missed the discussion about me on Good Morning America. But I already knew what was coming.
Soon enough my e-mail was burning up. Apparently, a lot of people watch Good Morning America. Another friend wrote, “A Real Housewife of New York is backing you up!!!”
I was actually already on vacation when the story was posted online, but by the time I got back almost every media outlet wanted me as a guest to talk about “When is too soon to leave your baby behind?”
Not that I’m a stranger to controversy, but this was beyond anything I had experienced.
On Good Morning America, the host began by saying, “This story is burning up the mommy blogs and our office is talking all about it. One mommy blogger boasting about leaving her 10-week baby behind to go on vacation raises the question of how soon is too soon to leave your child in someone else’s hands. One thing is for sure, her writing has sparked a fierce debate.”
The day before it aired I had received a request from Good Morning America to be interviewed (I was already back from vacation.) Since it was Good Morning America, I gladly accepted not really anticipating the “firestorm” that it would cause afterwards.
They somehow managed to arrange a camera crew to come to my house (no easy feat since they are based in New York) within two hours.
The cameraman was at my house for over an hour, taking video of me playing and feeding and interviewing me about my son Holt (the little dude I left behind.)
But Good Morning America was just the start.
I had already read numerous comments on the post I wrote for mommyish.com (more than 200 and counting). Half were in my corner saying, “Who cares? As long as the baby is well taken care of.” The other half posted comments such as “You’re self-indulgent. If you need a vacation after 10 weeks, you weren’t ready to be parents.”
I watched two people discuss the “debate” afterwards. One happened to be Jill Zarin, a former Real Housewife of New York City, whom I had been watching for years. I found it hilarious that she was taking my side, saying that it was hypocritical of people to judge me, mentioning that no one would have a problem if a husband had to go back to work or go away on business. “The baby is going to be fine,” she stated. (Seriously, how cool is that!)
The banner on TV read, “Mommy Wars.” “The debate rages on, even here,” the host finished up.
But the best (and worst) was yet to come — Inside Edition, the tabloid entertainment show that millions watch every evening.
I turned down their offer to be interviewed, which didn’t really matter, since they just took the video clips from my Good Morning America interview and flashed photos of my fiancé and me numerous times across the screen. I will say, however, I never thought my name would be uttered in the same sentence as Prince Harry and Taylor Swift. The introduction to that night’s Inside Edition began with, “Prince Harry pulls his pants down in Vegas! Taylor Swift crashes a wedding! Rebecca Eckler ditches her baby!” I couldn’t believe it!
I love how Americans (and Canadians for that matter) edit tabloid shows. Yes, I suppose, as they said, I did “ditch my baby.”
But they made it sound as if I had ditched my baby in a garbage dump, as opposed to leaving him behind in my house with his grandmother.
Soon after, the Globe and Mail picked up the story, and I got calls from CTV, Citytv, Talk1010 and numerous other Canadian media outlets, which I turned down.
Alas, after walking around with a hat and sunglasses for a week, I realized that I was yesterday’s news.
Blake Lively got married! Avril got engaged. Alas, my five New York minutes were up.
Post City Magazines’ columnist Rebecca Eckler is the author of Knocked Up, Wiped!, and her latest books, How to Raise a Boyfriend and The Lucky Sperm Club.