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Another Reason Why I'm Glad I'm Not Silda Spitzer

11/17/2011 09:02 am ET
  • Vicki Iovine Vicki Iovine is the author of the Girlfriends' Guides series of books

Word has it that Silda Spitzer is lying low with their three daughters in their 5th Avenue apartment in Manhattan; like maybe on the closet floor with scissors in her hand and Eliot's suits and ties cut into ribbons beside her. (By the way, why is the cutting of clothing so primitively satisfying to wronged women?) With the cutting done and only the final public revenge of tossing the worsted bits out the window to go, Silda must now decide whether she can put aside her own private agony and do what her mate's compulsion makes him unable to do himself: protect their children's right to love and trust their father. Just as her wifely instincts scream at her to murder him slowly and painfully, her motherly instincts whisper to her to save her children's father.

If there weren't three teenaged daughters in Silda's bed with her, or worse, isolating themselves in their own rooms, revenge could be so sweet. Wouldn't Oprah's ladies provide just the right blend of camaraderie and outrage when she shared that The Enforcer not only required prostitutes to get off, but also Viagra and some pump device that he ordered on late-night television? She could move her new young lover, with a full head of hair and a package that can be seen even through Levi's, into their former marital bed and start wearing her hair loose and curly and a satisfied smile on her flushed face. Naturally, she would immediately lose fifteen pounds just like Reese Witherspoon did after she dumped Ryan Philippe--maybe she'd even cut bangs.

But she is the mother of his children and with that comes the superhuman challenge of overcoming her own pain and humiliation to help them heal. This is the crucible that separates the girls from the women. First, it would be an invaluable gift if she could show her girls by example that this is not a fatal blow. We all know that our kids listen to very little of what we say but watch everything we do, and the Spitzer girls need to see that when a family member does something reprehensible they are not automatically kicked to the curb. Nor is retaliation always the best response when a loved one disappoints. Without that reassurance, how much safety and security can they expect as they try out their own judgment and make decisions as young adults? More to the point, how can they ever expect to have a lasting relationship of their own in a world populated only with imperfect people?

Second, Silda has to model self-respect. As deep as the desire to hide may be, New York's former First Lady and her daughters deserve and need to reclaim their own lives, and it's up to Mom to demonstrate that it can be done with dignity. It's nearly impossible for teenagers to understand that everything that happens is not personal, nor done to them or because of them, but their father's mistakes are not their own. Children with a mother who demonstrates that their father's failures are not hers or theirs stand a chance of not taking on his guilt. Loving someone who has cooties doesn't make them a carrier or infected, too. This is an amazing lesson to share with kids, and to remind oneself: a woman's light comes from within. It's neither reflected nor shadowed by the person standing next to her.

The third thing a compassionate mother has to consider is that for most girls, their first love affair is with their father. It's Daddy who cherishes them and values them and provides a safe place to try out their charms. They study how Daddy and Mommy interact and reasonably assume their own mother is the type of woman a great guy like Daddy finds lovable. What could be more undermining then than discovering their dad really yearns for girls who are more like them in age and interests than like Mom? Who knows, they may even resent their mother for failing to be young, hip and wanton enough to keep ol' Dad's attentions home where they belong. Heaven help them when the unthinkable eventually happens and they, too, no longer qualify for "American Idol."

Dina McGreevey, the former wife of the "gay American" former Governor of New Jersey has insinuated herself into this politico/domestic drama by drawing parallels between her family's implosion, and perhaps Mr. Spitzer should emulate Mr. McGreevey into an addiction program in Arizona. But one hopes the similarities stop there, and the Spitzer daughters are spared the prolonged and tawdry annihilation of their family while their parents devote themselves to being right at all costs.