These days, Mayim Bialik is just as associated with her parenting as she is with her acting. The 37-year-old star of “The Big Bang Theory” is a licensed lactation education counselor, writes a column on the Jewish parenting blog Kveller, and has penned a book on attachment parenting (a practice that involves "baby wearing" — carrying a baby or putting him or her in a sling across your body rather than a stroller — as well as "co-sleeping").
The attention is good in some ways, as Bialik says she enjoys sharing her knowledge with fellow moms and dads, but bad in others … like when strangers want to argue with her out of nowhere.
“If I’m talking to girlfriends, if I’m talking to random people, and we’re talking about parenting, I tell them what works for me and why. But a lot of people want to ask me things so that they can fight with me,” the mom of two shares. “And just because I’m a public person, who happened to have breastfed and slept with her kids, that doesn’t mean that I want to fight with you on the street or in the supermarket. So, I think you have to be really careful to understand why people want to know what they want to know.”
Bialik made headlines earlier this year after writing a blog post about finally weaning her younger son Fred at age 4 … and reactions varied from applause to disgust. “Obviously the notion of an older child nursing is very strange to some people. In certain cultures it’s not. And I was very careful about when and how I chose to breastfeed my older child. I put a lot of boundaries and limits around it and again took the guidance of women who had sort of walked this path before me," she explains. "I think the notion of breastfeeding at all is still very controversial in some circles."
These days she makes sure to be encouraging when she sees other moms doing it in public. "I make sure to give them a friendly smile or a nod because it's nice to have support like that because I remember getting lots of kind of nasty looks."
Her kids are old enough now — Fred is 4 and Miles is 7 — that they can spend time away from their mom (“They have a very interesting and exciting life on their own,” she says) and don’t join her when she's working on the set of "The Big Bang Theory." But son Miles did used to accompany her to another job, back when Bialik got her PhD in neuroscience and taught high school neuroscience, biology, and chemistry. “I taught with my kid strapped to my chest,” Bialik shares. “I taught in our home-school community and most of the kids that I taught for had seen their moms also going about life doing things with the baby strapped to their chest. And it was OK with all of the parents."
She may not get the chance to break out her science knowledge as much as she used to, but she recently put her expertise — and her comic book nerdiness to good use — participating in Gillette’s “How Does He Shave?” campaign, in which celebs share their theories on how Superman ends up so clean shaven so quickly. I" actually was a TA for several semesters of the sense organs of the human body," she explains. "And one of the things we focused on was hair structure. And so, that’s where I came up with this idea." (You can see Bialik’s theory here.)
And she fully expects her kids to follow in her footsteps … as a comic book lover, that is. "I've already started introducing my own kids to comic books as well. So, I'm the kind of person who when I saw the 'Man of Steel' trailer cried," Bialik admits. "I'm that person."
After nearly a decade of marriage, Bialik and husband Michael Stone divorced in May after separating last year, and, as always, Bialik is trying to turn her experience into a way to help others, focusing her Kveller blog lately on the Jewish aspects of divorce. "That's kind of something I've chosen to do publicly, but otherwise I'm just one more mom, who's divorced," she confesses. "I don’t have all the answers. I go to other women to find what worked for them."
As for dealing with explaining the situation to her children, in some ways, she says her neuroscience training has helped. "The development of their brains and their psyche and their place in the world is very complicated and nothing is unimportant to them, so I think both their dad and I sort of always govern by that, you know. Everything matters about every interaction, being very clear, keeping communication lines open."
Bialik, who rose to fame as a kid in the 1998 film "Beaches" and in '90s sitcom "Blossom," may be a successful, well-adjusted adult, but of course, many former child stars aren't. As for what the difference between her and them is, she says there's no easy answer. "Out of respect to the actors that I've known, who have gotten involved with drugs or some who have passed away, I don't like to say that, 'Oh well, if they had just done what I did everything would be fine,'" she insists. "I will say that I come from an immigrant family. Three of my four grandparents were immigrants to this country and I come from a very modest background where education was emphasized. And my parents were very strict, but that's not always the solution."
As for whether Bialik would be supportive if her boys wanted to get involved in showbiz, the answer is yes … later. "As soon as they're ready to drive themselves to auditions, they can do whatever they want."
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