If you know who Rebecca Eckler is, you have an opinion.
Newspaper columnnist, blogger and book author, Eckler lays it all out and on the line for readers. Never one to steer away from controversy, her columns have incited parody blogs and incensed critics, but after reading her books and meeting her, ParentsCanada found her unassuming, charming and an adoring mother. Obviously, then, there’s more to Eckler than meets the page.
Now a single mom, she stays in touch with her four-year-old daughter Rowan’s father on a daily basis and has a wonderful friendship with him (despite writing a piece in the Globe and Mail on how to extract a Mother’s Day gift from him by posing as Rowan via email). Her three books, Knocked UP! (which the author truly believes was ripped off by the filmmakers for the movie of the same name), Wiped! and the latest in the triptych Toddlers Gone Wild, chronicle her life as she tumbles through a surprise arrival: her daughter Rowan. Eckler frankly discusses her parenting fears, her – in her view – inept skills (she never did figure out that Diaper Genie system) and her struggle with her new identity as a mom. Many readers say they are appalled by her planned C-section, smoking through pregnancy and her refusal to breastfeed, but no one who reads her books can deny that Rowan is the centre of Eckler’s universe. Say what you may about Eckler, she gets people talking!
ParentsCanada: After reading your books, and then meeting you, there seem to be ‘two Rebeccas’. Often, your writing in your columns (and your blog) comes across as though you feel entitled and perhaps not ‘into’ being a mom. In person, however, it is apparent you’d not trade being a mom for anything. So, would the real ‘Rebecca Eckler’ please stand up?
Rebecca Eckler: Yes, all my friends, who aren’t in the media, are always asked, “What is Rebecca Eckler really like?” Of course, Rowan is the centre of my world.
Just because I sometimes write about buying $250 jeans for Rowan, or taking her for a manicure, being a good mother is not mutually exclusive. Trust me, my friends know the ‘real me’; I know the ‘real me’ and that’s all that matters.
I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t feel entitled or that I’m not slightly selfish about adult things. (I do still have a really bad addiction to designer handbags and shoes), but my daughter is the best thing to have happened to me. Trust me, at the end of the day I’m wiping my daughter’s butt like anyone else who has a toddler.
PC: Do your editors encourage you to be controversial?
RE: My editors don’t have to tell me to be controversial. Anything to do with parenting is controversial. So if I write that I let my daughter eat McDonald’s once in a while, there will be a lot of haters. If I mention that she still sleeps with me, at age four, in the same bed and has for the past year, people will find that controversial.
The fact that I didn’t breastfeed or that I had a planned C-section brought on a lot of controversy. I like to be controversial. What’s the point in writing something if it’s not going to be read, and even better, to keep a conversation going?
Whether you agree with me or not is not the issue. The issue is that you’re contributing to the conversation.
PC: Has anything you’ve written come back to bite you in the butt?
RE: Ha ha! Most things I write come back to bite me in the butt. But that’s not always a bad thing. It’s good to get a reaction out of people, be it good, or bad.
PC: If you could make something clear to your critics, what would it be?
RE: I wouldn’t really say anything to my critics. I don’t write for critics. I write because I love writing and because people do like reading my books. I guess all I can say is that if you don’t like it, don’t read it. No one is forcing you.
PC: You write things that most moms would be embarrassed to admit. Do you feel that most moms feel as you do?
RE: Moms might not want to write about it in national newspapers or magazines or go on television talking about it, but I KNOW most mothers I know moan about the same things I moan about. I bet when mommy friends get together they say the things I say in my books to each other.
PC: Your competitiveness is clear in your writing. Do you feel that constantly comparing yourself to other moms has made your life more difficult?
RE: Nah, I stopped comparing myself. I am who I am. I am the mother who lets her child walk around with a ‘Hello Kitty’ Band-Aid on her head for a week, even though she hasn’t hurt herself.
It’s not so much that I compare myself, it’s that I am in awe about how some mothers are so organized and look so good all the time. Why don’t they have bags under their eyes? Why can they wear all white? I think I’m more envious of them, than competitive. I’m definitely not a competitive mother. In fact, the other night I told two girlfriends, “Rowan got her report card today.” I knew they expected me to tell them how wonderful she was doing and I said, “Yup. It looks like I have a perfectly average child.” They don’t have children, so they laughed.
PC: What is the biggest challenge being a single mom?
RE: The biggest challenge being a single mom is literally the fact that you have to do everything on your own. But you do get used to it. You have no choice.
I’m not going to lie, I have a nanny come for three hours a day, but mostly for housekeeping and so I can go to the gym. But there are definitely days, for example, when she got pink eye for a week and had to stay home with me for a week, where I couldn’t do any work at all. And just knowing you have no choice but to do all the grocery shopping, well, you just have to do it. So it doesn’t even become a chore anymore. It’s a necessity, or your child will not get that cheese sandwich she demands to eat every day for lunch.
PC: What is easier as a single mom?
are a lot of pluses. We have such a close relationship and when it’s
just the two of us, she’s always well behaved. Well, mostly always well
It’s also easier because I think in a lot of
relationships with those who have children, it becomes a tit for tat.
Such as, “Well you went golfing all day Saturday so I want to go
shopping today.” When it’s just you and your child, there’s no bickering
over who should be doing what. There’s no asking your husband if he’s
going to be home for dinner and putting the kids to bed. It’s all up to
PC: What is the world’s best invention for moms?
RE: I’m sticking with the portable DVD player… oh, and grandparents who spoil their grandkids.
PC: How should moms hold onto their ‘cool’ or should they?
It’s so easy to become a couch potato once you become a parent. The
good news is, being a parent is now considered cool. That’s not a reason
to have a child, but in this day and age, there are so many options for
and tots to do things together. It may not be the same kind of
cool as hanging out at bars and getting drunk, but frankly, once you
become a parent, that’s really not high on your priority list anyway.
PC: What is the one thing you are most proud of about how you’ve parented?
RE: She’s a happy, happy child and I think that sums up everything. PC