Bored by motherhood

July 27, 2006

Wow.

Thanks to a link on Blogging Baby, I just finished reading this stupifying column published in London’s The Daily Mail. I know the previous post was all about us moms supporting each other’s choices and all, but I want to track this woman down and throttle her.

Helen Kirwan-Taylor is a 42-year-old writer and also the mother of two sons, and she finds them painfully boring.

How boring, you ask?

My children have got used to my disappearing to the gym when they’re doing their prep (how boring to learn something you never wanted to learn in the first place).

They know better than to expect me to sit through a cricket match, and they’ve completely given up on expecting me to spend school holidays taking them to museums or enjoying the latest cinema block-boster alongside them. (I spent two hours texting friends throughout a screening of Pirates Of The Caribbean the other day).

Am I a lazy, superficial person because I don’t enjoy packing up their sports kit, or making their lunch, or sitting through coffee mornings with other mothers discussing how Mr Science (I can’t remember most of the teachers’ names) said such and such to Little Johnny and should we all complain to the headmaster.

At this point in the conversation, my mind drifts to thoughts of my own lunch and which shoes I plan to wear with what skirt.

Any sane mother will admit that there are many mind-numbing aspects to raising children: the routine, the repetition, the daily drudgery.

But this woman makes her kids sound like a nuisance, two bothersome obstacles to what she really enjoys: shopping sprees and workouts.

Which is all fine and dandy; she is convinced that her refusal to coddle or cater to her boys has made them independent and imaginative.

But she is also convinced that to enjoy full-time motherhood, you more or less need to be lobotomized:

And yet many women have spent years studying and then working so that we would not have to do a job as menial as full-time motherhood. I consider spending up to 30 hours a week sitting behind the wheel of a 4×4, dropping children off at play centres or school, to be a less-than-satisfactory reward for all those years of sweat.

Besides, in my view, making a child your career is a dangerous move because your marriage and sense of self can be sacrificed in the process.

I’m really put off by her snide, condescending tone. I am sure much of it was calculated to incite reaction, and from the comments at the end of the column, she succeeded.

Most readers called her selfish and sad, while some praised her for echoing their throughts.

As a working mom, I wish I had the opportunity to take several years off and stay home with my children. So I tend to agree with this comment by Imogen, from Manchester:

I have a one year old son, and am regularly bored to tears by the mind numbingly repetitive domesticity that comes with a baby, but never bored by my son in the way the writer describes. Yes, sometimes I am bored by reading the same old story again and again, or chasing him up the stairs for the fifteenth time, but the point is – I do it. I spend time with my son; sometimes it’s boring, sometimes it’s fun, most of the time it is just pottering about together and enjoying each other’s company.

I hate competitive mothers, and I really hate the way that mothers are constantly judged but this article really shocked me. I feel sorry for Helen’s children. I would feel upset if that was my mum writing about me. Spending time with your children and doing your best to enjoy them is not being enslaved by them. It all begs the question – why on earth have children if this is how you feel?

 Are you bored by your children? Take the poll…

UPDATE: For a refreshing take on motherhood (and a complete counterbalance to our friend Helen), read this My Turn column from Newsweek, about a formerly self-absorbed woman whose twins put things in perspective.