My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

The Final Word on "Boredom"

2006-08-11

Okay. Let’s get this over with because I’m already bored with this subject. And, let me say right out that I am not convinced that this article wasn’t set up by a sensationistic press out to berate working women. It’s become quite clear to me in recent years that the pendulum has been swinging back in favor – societally – of stay-at-home mothers. Women choose (or not) to stay home with their children for a number of different reasons. Women also choose (or not) to work full- or part-time outside the home and make arrangements for someone else to care for their children during the week, whether it be a spouse/other parent, other family member, paid professional, childcare center, etc.

But, if you click back to yesterday’s entry, you can read the original article about Ms. Kirwan-Tayor in the Daily Mail (UK). Other newspapers in the US have picked up this story and elaborated on it (to a ridiculous degree) and lots of stupid talking heads have had their say. They’ve taken one woman’s story (assuming that it’s even true), exaggerated it and tarred us all with the same brush.

Because this woman clearly is uninterested in raising her children – at least that’s what we’re led to belive. She works full-time and has a full-time nanny to do her “dirty work.” The nanny took the children to birthday parties because Ms. Kirwan-Taylor found them, “..so boring that I made up any excuse.” Granted, birthday parties are not all that, as my recent experiences have shown. But, you know, nothing in life is all fun and games. Life carries with it, as par for the course, a lot of drudgery. So, I’m with her on that but I can’t get out of these things so easily since I do not have a paid lackey to do all these boring things for me.

So, that’s all well and good. But, then she says that she purposely worked her ass off because, “the thought of spending time with them [her sons] was more stressful than any journalistic assignment I could imagine....I was begging the nanny to stay on, at least until she had read my two a bedtime story. What kind of mother hates reading bedtime stories? A bad mother, that’s who, and a mother who is bored rigid by her children.”

Hmmm. You know what? She’s right. She is a bad mother in my book. Because – and I’m only speaking for myself here – I cannot imagine having children and not wanting to spend time with them. I certainly couldn’t do it all day long every day but this woman was never home to begin with. She was PURPOSELY AVOIDING her children.

Doesn’t like to read bedtime stories? Can’t bear to spend, what, fifteen minutes each evening reading to her sons, talking to them about their day, being a human? Treating them is a way that makes them feel loved? That, my friends, is so...beyond my comprehension. One of my favorite parts of the day is reading to my children at night. But then, I like books. Maybe this woman doesn't like to read, period.

And that’s when I begin to wonder whether this story is really on the up and up. Because, if it is, I feel sorry for her sons. I feel bad that their mother has told the world that despite the claim that “of course I love my children” she can’t stand to be around them? How does that work? I can't separate the two things in my head.

This goes beyond boredom. Yes, being stuck in a room full of mothers natter on about diaper brands and formula can be mind-numbing when those mothers have nothing else in common other than the fact that they’ve given birth, but this article is not really about boredom for me. I don’t really know what it’s about, frankly.

She says further on, “The trouble for a mother like me [definition, please] is that not being completely and utterly enthralled with, dedicated to and obsessed with one’s children is a secret guarded, if not until death, then until someone else confesses first.”

But, see, this is what galls me – the one-extreme-or-the-other mentality. One can love her children passionately, find their discovery of the world fascinating…and still need a break from it. That’s normal. This woman does not come across as “normal.” She comes across as someone who, for some reason, felt that she had to have it all to be fulfilled: great successful husband, successful career and children. But, not only can none of us live up to the lie of “having it all” but some of us have no business having children. This woman should not have bothered.

Her statements are interspersed with comments like this: “All those glossy magazine spreads showing celebrity mothers looking serene at home with their children serve only to make women feel inadequate. What the pictures don’t show is the monotony, loneliness and relentless domesticity that goes with child-rearing.” That’s all well and good if a) you are a tool and completely buy the lie magazines are selling you that celebrities have wonderful happy lives because if you turn the page, you’re reading about their domestic troubles and custody battles, b) Ms. Kirwan-Taylor was a stay-at-home mother. She’s anything but.

I mean, I’m sorry. I have absolutely no sympathy for her. It’s not that the article doesn’t bring up good general points about motherhood (ie., LIFE) but to bring them up in the context of someone who has made it a point to work so as to avoid being a mother to her children….wtf is that about?

Here’s another mind-boggling section which seems to validate her opinion:

Much of our current obsession with parenting has to do with the cult of child psychology. 'Parents in the Fifties were led to believe that if they weren't with their children, the children would be disadvantaged,' says psychologist Eva Lloyd. 'It started this ridiculous "kids first" culture. We live in an age when parenting is all about martyrdom.'

Psychiatrist Dr Alvin Rosenfeld, author of The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding The Hyper-Parenting Trap, adds: 'To be a good parent today, you have to sacrifice a lot.

'When the current generation of mothers was young, children were simply appendages.

'Our parents would never cancel an adult activity to get us to a soccer game. They would often not show up for our games or school plays, and, as a consequence, they never witnessed our great triumphs or were there to comfort us in our humiliations. As a result, our generation said we would do it differently.'

So it is drummed into mothers that if we find our children stressful or dull, it's because there's something wrong with us (but not dads, of course, who have a ready-made excuse for being out of the house all day because they 'have to go to work').

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 4x4, 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 really don’t know what to make of all this. There’s sort of a point here but, again, it’s all exaggeration. Yes, erasing your SELF in favor of your children is not healthy. Yes, I think we all – it’s human nature – think we’re going to raise our children better than our parents raised us. Yes, women deserve careers, to use their brains for things other than making pot roast and sewing Halloween costumes.

But, who says we have to buy the lie? Why do we (guilty as charged here!) allow such ridiculous tripe as this get us all worked up? The article Harri3t linked to added another stupid addition to the “debate” by assigning new acronyms (like we need more of those): SMUMs (Smart Middle-Class Uninvolved Mother) and SCAMs (Smart Child-Centered Active Moms) as if we can all be so easily labeled. Can you hear me groaning?

I fall under the SCAM category as explained in the article: we make our own Xmas cards (well, in the last few years we’ve sent out photo cards) but I did that as a child. My parents bought linoleum blocks for us to carve and we’d make our own handmade cards. Why is it wrong to not want to pass that fun activity on to MY children? Why is ART and artistic expression and creativity wrong, all of a sudden?

Yes, I cook from scratch. A couple of times a week. Why? Not because I’m trying to be SUPER GOOD MOM. No, it has absolutely nothing to do with being a mother. It’s because I prefer to eat real food. My mother is a gourmet cook. She’s won Pillsbury Bakeoff contests. I grew up in a household where cooking was important. I want to pass that on to my children. I want them to know that they can actually make something, from ingredients, that tastes better than the bland stuff you can buy at the supermarket. Why is that wrong? I don’t get it.

Lastly, all this mommy-bashing leaves out one crucial element – dad. Where are the men? Where are the fathers in all this? Clearly, they’re staying out of the fray, raising their children without worrying too much about losing their minds, and watching the cat fight from afar. I mean, we aren’t alone in this universe. I propose we all start ignoring this shit (yes, I will try to take my own advice), live our lives without comparing ourselves harshly to others, sharing experiences in a way that’s helpful not harmful, and maybe this crap will disappear.

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10:36 a.m. ::
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