As soon as I opened the magazine a few weeks ago, I knew it would end in tears. The headline was “The Big Easy” and it was a story about one woman’s breezy experience of motherhood. During the few minutes it took to read, I nodded, I winced and I could hear the sound of incoming artillery so loud I almost had to duck.
The premise of journalist Jacinta Tynan’s explosive piece was her exasperation that so many women downplay the good bits about motherhood. I understand this idea and sometimes I’m guilty of it myself. For example, I had terrific, straightforward births with two of my kids but I always feel the need to speak louder about the birth that was difficult.
I also had two problem-free breastfeeding experiences but I always rush to detail the nightmare of getting mastitis seven times in eight months with my third. The subtext being: See! I’ve suffered! I’m not smug!
I know Jacinta a little bit and so the next day, I organised to interview her for Mamamia. With my video camera in my bag, I high-tailed it to Foxtel studios where she was on day shift as a presenter for Sky News.
Approaching her in the tentative way one might approach an unexploded bomb, I quickly understood she had no idea what she’d unleashed. The vitriol of a thousand angry women had not yet reached her. Soon it would.
We talked. I gave her the chance to correct some misconceptions. Like the fact she was rich (no), had a full-time nanny (no) or a perfect baby (no). I re-published her original article, along with the interview and then I stood back. The comments began within seconds and in a few days there were more than 1100.