Depending on your age, you might remember her as a young Bette Midler of the 1989 film, “Beaches”. It was during my adolescent years of 1990-1995, that I watched Mayim as the star of the hit show Blossom. And if you are of a younger generation (or just hadn’t seen either of the previously mentioned), you may know her from the CBS sitcom, The Big Bang Theory.
I can remember watching Blossom and admiring her unique sense of style and down-to-earth personality. Who could have known 22 years ago, that I would one day have a chance to speak to Mayim? The actress has just as unique a style and personality as the character which she portrayed.
In fact, it seems as though Mayim is able to relate to her characters rather well. In her current sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, Bialik plays a neurobiologist. What you might not know, is that Mayim has a PH.D. in Neuroscience. If you think that is coincidental, think again. The character Amy Farrah Fowler was given the role of scientist because of Mayim’s degree.
Mayim appeared on many other shows throughout her career including Seventh Heaven, Bones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and many more.
Among her many talents, there is one that is most important; Mother. Bialik has a unique style of parenting that many might find hard to understand. She recently wrote a book, Beyond the Sling, a real-life guide to raising confident loving children the attachment parenting way, explaining aspects of Attachment Parenting (AP), which she and her husband have embraced. Methods include Elimination Communication, Co-sleeping, and baby wearing just to name a few.
The reaction to this book has caused quit the frenzy. People seem to be up in arms over some of the approaches Bialik takes in parenting her two sons, Miles and Frederick.
I read this book cover to cover in a matter of days, and I must say, it all makes sense. ALL of it. I’m willing to bet the critics out there have yet to take the opportunity to read Beyond the Sling. Personally, I learned a great deal from Mayim’s book, and am thankful that she decided to share her own views with the public. It takes great courage to stand up proudly for what you believe, and Mayim has done so with grace.
Having said that, I have profound respect for Bialik as a mother and must admit, I find it shocking that other mothers out there have been so harsh in their judgments. As a mother, we take criticism for every little action we take and have all experienced what this feels like. It is my hope that people will learn from this book rather than critique.
With each word I read, I felt inspired to have more patience and become a better parent all around. So for this book, I am thankful. Oh and did I mention, Bialik is vegan?
Mayim was gracious enough to take the time to conduct an interview with me over the phone. Here is what she had to say:
I’d like to start out by saying that I grew up watching Blossom and absolutely loved that show. How have you managed to stay out of the negative aspects of the Hollywood scene unlike so many other stars that start out at a young age?
In general being a nerd, my parents really emphasized the importance of education.
In your book, you mention that your mother would not feed you milk from other animals as a young child, but you weren’t raised vegan, is that right?
The Concept of vegan didn’t occur to her, vegan hadn’t reached Manhattan in 1974, but she knew out of primitive instinct not to feed us milk of another animal.
My parents became vegetarian a few years ago. They wanted an easier environment for their grandkids, to be able to eat whatever they had at their house and stuff like that.
When and why did you become vegan?
I had a taste aversion to meat at 19, and there were some foods I had never eaten since I was kosher at the time, like lobster or shellfish of any kind. I have always been an animal lover, and always felt guilty eating meat. I cut out dairy in college, and have never had sinus infections, or been on antibiotics since then. Before, I used to sneeze all the time. I dabbled in dairy a bit, and when my first son was born he was allergic to it from receiving it through my breast milk. After my second son was born, I was still eating eggs until I read “Eating Animals”, and that was the end of that. I got my husband to read it and he went vegan not long ago. It has been about 4 years since I have been a total hard core vegan.
I don’t want to feel like I want to not do something but am not consistent enough to give something up and I don’t want to have to find out where the line is, I just erase the line altogether. For example, I don’t want to have to wonder if these eggs are free range, I just don’t eat them at all. (Her comment about “erasing the line” is my favorite by far!)
How do you explain veganism to Fred and Miles?
I just tell them that this is the way we eat. It’s what our pediatrician, and Mommy and Daddy believe grows the best bodies and brains for the two of them. I do not want them making comparisons to others and don’t want them to go around saying that we are healthier than others.
Our kids have broad interesting fantastic set of foods that we do eat; we love Asian, Mexican, and Italian foods, we definitely aren’t limited in our selections.
(Mayim told me about a vegan hostess type cupcake known as the “Faux-stress Cupcake” served at Real Food Daily, located in Southern California. After having had check out their website, it is now on my to-do list to check them out! Thanks Mayim!)
BEYOND THE SLING
I found this book to be so inspiring. What inspired you to write this book?
Thank you. I was not looking to write a book, I just became an accidental voice for attachment parenting. I am not a pediatrician of family therapist. My degree in Neuroscience helped, but most people that practice attachment parenting don’t have a degree in Neuroscience, and participate in AP because it’s what feels right.
In the book you talk about your “family room”, the bedroom that you and your husband share with your two boys. I am curious, how is it decorated?
We have bookcases and baskets for the boy’s clothes. We have never had one piece of baby furniture. The curtains are Japanese fabric-I love Japanese décor. Our marriage contract is on the wall, as is done in the Jewish community, and there is a Japanese wood cut and a painting of mother and baby that my husband’s grandmother painted.
Any kids stuff in there?
Not furniture-wise, but we have all of their books and dress-up clothes in baskets, and the toys are all in the living room. They also each get a drawer of a dresser for all of their “stuff”: key chains, small collectibles, etc.
Will you write another book?
Yes, another one is in the works, I think I still have a lot left to say.
I think you do too. Have you always written, or is this recent?
No, writing comes from my sense of humor and lack of ability to not be honest. I really only wrote in college for all of my papers. I work really well with small blocks of time. My husband will spend hours on a paper and get an A+, I won’t get an A+, and won’t spend hours on anything, but I can get a B and it works fine for me.
THE BIG BANG THEORY
You play the role of scientist in the show, but you really are a scientist. How has your degree in science helped you to relate to the role of Amy?
They made her a neurobiologist because I am a neuroscientist, I mainly use my own ideas for the character but also drew from a skit from SNL called “Good Morning Springfield”, showing three junior high students and featuring a really awkward girl played by Maya Rudolf
Do you watch the show?
Do you mean “Big Bang Theory”? It sounds like you mean SNL!
Yes, the Big Bang Theory.
No, I don’t like to watch myself.
What were you really thinking when you were caught on “What Not to Wear”?
I was thinking I couldn’t believe I had a whole week of shopping in front of me.
Did you enjoy it?
Yes, but I’m still not sure that I know how to throw an outfit together.
What advice do you have for couples that are separated, and just one parent is invested in attachment parenting or a vegan lifestyle?
There is nothing about attachment parenting that says anything about being divorced or single. We all have the idea of the ideal parent, and none of us get there. We all do what we can to make changes in our life.
I know people that practice AP and have their kids in school or day care or are single parents.
There are not really any rules about attachment parenting in that sense.
If you could give one piece of advice to parents, what would it be?
Listen to yourself, you are your child’s expert not anyone else
What is the most important lesson you want your children to learn?
I’m not perfect, no one’s perfect. My actions remind them of that all the time.
I felt so inspired by so many things Bialik had to say and appreciate the sharing of her own personal lifestyle. I highly recommend reading, Beyond the Sling, for all parents of children both young and old.
The Big Bang Theory airs on Thursday nights on CBS at 8 Eastern time.
For more about Mayim, check out her website
View Beyond the Sling, a real-life guide to raising confident loving children the attachment parenting way.
Photo credit- Denise Herrick Borchert