Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mother Admits - She's Bored.

Sorry, but my children bore me to death!
. . .
Kids are supposed to be fulfilling, life-changing, life-enhancing fun: why was my attitude towards them so different?

While all my girlfriends were dropping important careers and occupying their afternoons with cake baking, 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.

I know this is one of the last taboos of modern society. To admit that you, a mother of the new millennium, don't find your offspring thoroughly fascinating and enjoyable at all times is a state of affairs very few women are prepared to admit. We feel ashamed, and unfit to be mothers.

It's as though motherhood is an exclusive private club and everybody is a member except for us few. But then, kids have become careers, often the Last Career, for millions of women who have previously trained for years to enter professional fields of business. Consequently, few of those women will admit that they made a bad, or worse a boring career move to motherhood.
. . .
The trouble for a mother like me 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. When I mentioned this article to my friend Catherine Fairweather, travel editor of Harpers & Queen, the relief on her face was instant.

For years she's listened to her friend proselytizingng on the sublime act of mothering. 'But no one ever told me how boring it is,' she moaned.
. . .
Those of us who are not thoroughly 'child-centric', meaning we don't put our children's guitar practice before our own ambitions, are made to feel guilty. We're not meant to have an adult life at least, not one that doesn't include them.
. . .
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. . .
OK, she's not the most sympathetic of mothers. I think that many overwrought parents are going to be hard-pressed to feel bad for someone who has been driven to dispatch her nanny.

And no, the ideas aren't wholly original. (See Feminine Mystique, last post)

But it is good to know that many of the visions of parenting that the childfree perceive - a cult of silence, a conspiracy of unending and not-always-honest optimism - are accurate. Perhaps if more women admitted the difficulty of the transition there would be more sympathy for those women who choose to remain solely in the intellectual life.

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