When you meet deputy Taťána Malá, you don't think at all that she's just gone through a very difficult time in her life. After becoming Justice Minister, she faced media pressure because of her education and her thesis "on bunnies". At the same time, her marriage fell apart and her life took off in a completely different direction. None of it took away her joy to live, though. She laughs a lot, speaks lovingly of her three children and emphasizes that she never regrets anything. In her interview with LP-Life.cz she remembered her youth and spoke openly about her divorce for the first time ever.
It's almost evening and you say this is your first coffee today. I couldn't do that...
I used to never drink coffee, it's all this year. But there are days when I don't have it at all. I never needed it to live.
And where do you get your energy?
Contact with people fuels me, I really like talking to them. So that's probably where I get my energy from.
Have you ever regretted getting into politics?
I have a motto in life that I never regret anything. Whatever happens, positive or negative, always moves a person forward. So I've never regretted it and I do this job entirely of my own free will. If a moment ever comes when I won't feel like being there anymore, I'll leave.
Of course, sometimes it's very hard, there's a big toll on family and private life, but it's a job that I enjoy.
Is it harder for you in politics as a woman?
I'm not one of the people who say that we need quotas and that women should be "forcibly" pushed anywhere. But at the same time I do say that women don't have it easy. You can make it into an advantage, because men often underestimate women in politics. A strong woman knows how to assert herself, and has to use her feminine wiles sometimes.
The female element is necessary in politics, because women think differently and also have a different way of argumentation and pushing things through. Specifically women in politics often soften and smooth out men's egos.
Have you ever encountered improper conduct from men in politics? I specifically mean sexual comments for example, you're pretty after all...
Thank you! (laugh) Every woman deals with this, but the confident and capable one can set the men in their place quick. She shows them the limits that cannot be crossed. And I do not have a problem with this.
You've gotten a divorce in summer. How did politics and the events from the time you became Minister of Justice reflect on it?
It'd be unfair to blame politics for everything, because if everything had been okay, the relationship would have lasted. It was hard, but unfortunately, most of the blame falls on my best friend. So it was a bit of a ride.
My husband left me for my best friend.
That must have been a shock!
I'm at peace with it, it's life. But honestly, I'm probably more affected by the betrayal from my best friend, than the husband.
Most of all, it's not all about me, we were raising three kids together, we had a family. Of course it's hard when a relationship between two people ends, that's one thing. But the other thing is that it affects the people around you a lot and you have to address it. I think that we approached it as two reasonable people, who are aware of their children and that they have to be nice to them. So they've been affected the least.
How long were you together?
After ending such a long-lasting relationship, many people start to make changes in their lives, trying new things. Are you like that?
You reevaluate a lot of things and some things you didn't use to do before you start doing, because you have the space and nobody minds. But the way I look at life, you gain something, but you also lose something. But it was probably supposed to be this way, it'll move both of us forward.
It's good to hear that it's not the end of the world for you...
It's definitely not that I'd tell myself that I never want to even see a different man. Of course I took a moment to get everything of my chest, that's a given. But it always takes two to tango with relationship problems. And it's fair to admit that to yourself.
I have more space to be with my kids, because I used to divide my time between my partner, kids and work, and that's not easy. So now I dedicate my free time solely to my kids. Beside that I garden, take care of the house, do sports. It's a different life, but I can't say that it's bad.
How old are your kids?
Seventeen, fourteen and seven. Two daughters and a boy.
What does your shared time look like?
Ideally we wake up in the morning, have breakfast, and when it's even a little bit possible and we don't have to go anywhere, we're at home or in the garden. We read, watch TV, play games, just the normal life of mom and her children.
How do you deal with puberty?
With the girls it's hopefully behind us. (laugh) With the older one there was a rather turbulent period about three years ago. These days, the younger one probably also thinks that I'm a stupid, useless and just the worst mother in the world sometimes, but it's nothing that'd be out of the ordinary. All of us probably had that. And then it probably awaits me with Oliver, but there's still time for that.
When you became the Minister of Justice a year and a half ago, you suffered through a lot of attacks and mockery because of your master's thesis, your education, even your husband was being talked about... how did both you and him deal with it?
He wasn't dealing with it well. Moreover, our split was happening at the time when my media controversies were happening, and that's specifically why I somewhat underestimated media communication. On the inside I was dealing with way more important things at the time. And I have to say that it was very hard. Today I'd do a lot of things differently, of course, but on the other hands, that's all "whatifs".
Did it affect the kids too?
I don't know if my girls are so badass and wanted to support me, or didn't want to bother me with it. But when I asked them about it, they acted like they weren't concerned with it at all. I never heard a single accusation that they'd have it worse because of me. And the older daughter would tell me, "Mom, I've known you for sixteen years and I won't judge you based on what somebody's saying over there on TV. I don't care." My children are really supportive.
On top of that, I don't talk to my children about politics at all. Then it concerns me all the more when my fourteen-year-old Justýna comes back from school and starts telling me that her teacher at school has been talking about prime minister Babiš and says that she goes to the protests against him at Letná. I find that horrible, because I try to raise my kids to have their own outlook on the world.
I noticed that aside from photos with kids and various delicious meals, you've also recently posted a rather raunchy photo in a swimsuit on your Instagram. How do you maintain your figure? Do you work hard at the gym?
I don't think that my figure is that great and I definitely have a lot to work on. (laugh) But on the other hand I do not do anything strange, I like skiing, cycling, I swim and most of all keep dashing between work, kids, all around a big garden, two dogs, one cat and a rooster.
These days I don't work out as much as I used to, and I have to admit that I'm a little bit lazy. I focus more on the kids because I feel that a time spent this way is a hundred times better return investment than the time spent on a round butt.
What are your other hobbies?
I really like reading, I try to read every time before bed. I've taken up golf about a yea ago. It's really relaxing, I never thought I'd start enjoying this much.
Does knowing that your daughter will be an adult soon affect you a lot?
It does scare me a little that she will "run away from me" soon, but not because I'd prefer to have my kids at home like many moms. Rather, I realize how fast time passes.
You had you first child at a very young age...
I had Apolenka when I was barely 21, I was a sophomore in college. It was an unplanned pregnancy and back then I spent a long time thinking how to approach it. Responsibility won and I've never regretted it in my life.
It was hard, because I was all alone with her. I started working quite early on, I brought her with me to school, breastfed between exams. I recall, how I was writing the so-very-talked-about thesis with her... I have no idea how I managed it at the time. (laugh) But I think that our relationship is very strong because of it, we have a very strong bond.
What can make you laugh the most?
Definitely things my children say. Especially Oliver often drops unbelievable gags before sleep.
Do you have any bad habits?
It's hard to tell on yourself like that! (laugh) I hate having to wake up in the morning.
So you're a notorious alarm snoozer?
Exactly. Three times today! And I could be a little tidier too.
But I'm seeing neat piles on the table here...
But they aren't sorted!
Sometimes I'm really impatient. I would demand things from my kids immediately.
What do you like about men and what do you dislike, on the other hand?
I like men who are real men. Meaning they can set clear boundaries for a woman. And I like when they keep their word and don't lie. I don't like overblown egos, when men compare which one of them is the most badass.
Do men fear you?
That's more of a question for those men. Just the other day a colleague told me in jest: "I stopped being scared of most women at thirty. But I'm still scared of you!" (laugh)