As an East Indian always a little excited to see another doing well in the world, I've been following Padma Lakshmi's pregnancy and subsequent birth with a mix of pride, worry and well, bafflement. Pride because I like to see a sister happy (Lakshmi's pregnancy had been described by her doctor as "nothing short of a medical miracle" due to her struggle with endometriosis), worry because that condition made her pregnancy a delicate one, and bafflement because I literally could not believe the ruckus made over her decision not to name the father of her baby.
Was it ex-husband Salman Rushdie? IMG CEO Ted Forstmann? Some kid named Manu Nathan (who, it turns out, is actually her cousin)? As Padma grew, so did the list of possible fathers, along with something that started to make me a little uncomfortable. Just what was behind all this speculation, exactly? Was it just run-of-the-mill tabloid insatiability for celebrity secrets, or a thin cover for some strange, puritanical, 1950s thought process that deems a lone mother a dangerous thing?
"Padma Lakshmi's Baby Will Grow Up With a Dad," a February Page Six headline declared--the kind of strange, backhanded reporting that insinuated that until now, this baby was on the brink of being--(gasp!)--raised alone with a mother who loves her! Today, with sources all over the web reporting that "it has been revealed that [NY-based venture capitalist] Adam Dell is the father," I'm beginning to think that 1) Dell might consider rebranding himself as the Greatest Magic Show on Earth! and 2) People still have a lot of problems with single moms.
Listen, I get that having a dad is a great thing. I had a particularly fantastic one, I was happy to have him while I did, and I believe that in a perfect world, everyone would always get two parents to show them that love can be shared equally and experienced uniquely. That said, I don't think two parents are a requirement for raising a child well. The best option? Sure. But not one that automatically makes all other options a bad idea. I've had too many happy friends from single-parent homes (and conversely, too many unhappy friends from two-parent households) to think otherwise.
So what gives, America? Why can't a successful, dynamic, capable woman decide to have a kid on her own?