Is Motherhood a Bore?

Because nothing is better for a pregnant woman than rising blood pressure, I thought I would tackle this article. It actually took me awhile to formulate my opinion on what I thought of this. It wasn't as cut and dry as it seemed on first blush.

The author basically states that most of the routine tasks of motherhood (including driving her 10 and 12 year old sons to their sports practices, making their lunches, watching them in plays, and attending their various activities) bore her to death.

She says that highly intelligent and educated women with careers are abandoning their jobs to take on their new "career" as mother, and are playing with fire to the detriment of their marriages and their senses of self because of the child-centric world we live in.

Mothers who don't put Junior's karate practice above their own ambitions are made to feel guilty, and are stigmatized as bad mothers. She points out that as mothers, women are not meant to have their own adult lives, or at least one that doesn't include their children, and that if you don't cater to your child's every whim, then you're not acting as the proper "mother martyr" you should be.

The point of the entire article is that once a woman becomes a mother, her entire sense of self is often swallowed up with the never-ending tasks involved in motherhood. Mothers' goals and desires, interests and passions often come secondary to those of their children. And her point is that she finds this ridiculous, that the vast majority of these tasks are dull for her, and that because of these feelings, she's made to feel as if there is something wrong with her because of the new cultural norms that have created a universe 100% focused on satisfying the needs and desires of one's kids.

Here's what I think. In one way, the author is completely on target. I think we do live in a society that is completely focused around children. I can think of several parents I know who literallly do not leave their houses to go out with friends, attend a party, or go out to dinner unless the plans include their kids. And it's not because they can't find a babysitter either. I completely agree with the experts the author cited in the article who say that research shows that child-centered parenting is creating a generation of narcissistic children who cannot function independently, who enter the real world totally ill-prepared, and whose demand for constant attention from adults is enough to send any parent over the bridge.

And I applaud the author when she says at the end of the article that her refusal to make every minute be 100% about her kids has created well-rounded, creative children who are capable of playing independantly and who are not demanding.

That said, upon finishing the article, I asked myself, "So why did this woman have kids in the first place?" To be fair, it's not clear at what point she realized that much of childcare is routine and not earth-shatteringly interesting. But then again, she had two kids, not one. You'd think that if she was so bored to tears by taking care of the first, then she wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) have had the second, right? Did she want to avoid the social stigma (itself a part of the "child-centric" world we live in) associated with those who choose to live child-free? (By the way, I think the choice is a wonderfully valid one, because what's better-A mother who enjoys her kid-free existence and who takes the necessary precautions to ensure she doesn't bring an unwanted child into this world, or one who has an unwanted child who recognizes each day that her mother never wanted her?)

But I also think it's sad that when the author says that when she does try to have fun with her kids, for example by taking out the Monopoly board, they just say, "don't bother, you'll just be bored, mom." To me, that is not a well-rounded and creative child. That's a child who has learned that he's not important to his mother.

The bottom line is this. When Beastie is born, I know he or she will change my life. It's silly for me to pretend that's not going to happen. But rather than identify myself as "Beastie's mom," as some women do, I want to identify myself as "Kristi with a kid." I still want to be me. I want to be able to carry on intelligent conversations with adults about politics, social issues, The Amazing Race, and whether or not the Buffalo Bills will be able to eek out a single win this season. I don't want my conversational focus limited to what percentile Beastie's head circumference falls into, or how many diapers I change in a single afternoon. I want to be able to go out for coffee with my friends, and take up running again so I can work off the Beastie weight. And when Beastie enters school, I fully intend on being an actively involved parent, but I plan on maintaining my own outside interests as well. Because I believe if I can't, I won't be a good mother. I will be a miserable one.

I've put 30 years into establishing a pretty solid identity for myself. I know who I am, what I stand for, and what's important to me. But I also know my world is about it be turned on its ear with the arrival of one small little baby. It's finding the balance between "Kristi" and "Mom" that will prove challenging. I know there will be days when I'll long for my child-free life, when the everyday drudgery of motherhood will take its toll, even though it took years, a whole lot of cash, daily and nightly needles in the ass, and a small miracle for me to get pregnant in the first place. But I know this going in. I'm not under any delusion as to how much my "about-to-change" life will at times in no way resemble my former one. And that's the point I think this author is missing. Yes, motherhood, because of the cultural norms we've created regarding its "proper" execution is demanding, often unrewarding, and sometimes downright boring. However, with the right support system in place, a proper balance is possible and, in my opinion, actually desirable, in order to be a good mom.

So, what do you think?

14 Responses to “Is Motherhood a Bore?”

  1. # Blogger sunShine

    You definately have to find a balance to keep yourself sane. I think my working outside of the home helps me greatly. I applaude stay-at-home moms, but I think I would be insane if I did not have my job to go to everyday. I still try to have time for myself and spend time doing something for me. It isn't always easy, but luckily I have a husband that realizes that it does make us better parents to be able to do something for ourselves. To answer the real question, no to me motherhood is not a bore, it is a journey that I am enjoying everyday. Just like any other journey into the unknown we have our good days and our bad days. At the end of the day, it is all worth it...  

  2. # Blogger HoosierGirl5

    I agree with sunshine.
    When I got divorced, I was so focused on keeping things on an even keel for the kids, that I never did anything for me. Finally someone said, "you are going to burn yourself out. take some time for yourself."
    I am a better parent because I do occasionally take some time for me.
    But don't be surprised if, in the beginning, you don't want to leave the baby at all. It's called the honeymoon. And although I am ME, I also enjoy being known as "Aaron's mom". I'm proud of the title.
    Great post.  

  3. # Blogger l

    I hope by "child-centric" you and the author mean that the normative value is to place the highest priority on your children, to the detriment of your own identity and self. It's a paradox, though, this value, because in the U.S. there aren't institutions or programs in place that help mothers (or fathers! Can you say paid paternity leave?) uphold this value, even if they want to.

    I'm with you, though. As with romantic and friend relationships, you really can't care for others if you don't first take care of yourself. What message are you sending to your children when you drop everything to get them their purple sippy cup because they just don't want red today? I don't feel that having life balance - maintaining interests separate of your family - limits your ability to be a good parent. It definitely enhances it...you'll have more to bring to the table to share with everyone else. And you'll be teaching your kids the importance of figuring out and maintaing your sense of self.  

  4. # Blogger Shannon

    Paid paternity leave? How about paid maternity leave in this country, too?! Oy vey. . .

    As you say, Kristi, moderation is the key to anything. Or did I just say that? Anyway, it is and I believe it is important to keep that goal in mind. It probably won't manifest for the first couple of years (from the baby blogs I've been reading, at least) but eventually, you can figure out how to do it. It doesn't have to be one way or the other. I think I'm just babbling here. I need coffee...  

  5. # Blogger The Princess

    What I have learned in these short 7 months of parenting: It is what you make it.

    I personally love staying at home with my daughter and am stilling waiting to be bored. I have enjoyed every moment I have spent with her...but we rarely just stay at home..we are always out and about. As we speak I am out of state for the week, we jumped on a plane Monday (Camille's 4th flight). I also have a very supportive husband who assist me in staying me!! He is always willing to take the baby so I can go out with my friends. We also go out to dinner at least weekly bringing Camille with us. She is so used to being out in public, it is always an enjoyable experience.

    So again, I say, It is what you make it!!  

  6. # Blogger Marie

    I'm with The Princess, in that it is what you make it.

    To me, the author of that article comes across as incredibly narcissistic. IMHO, you need to buck up and be the parent - supporting your children's events - being at the games, concerts, etc, no matter how "boring" they are to you. Because it's not about the nitty-gritty of the event that truly matters, it's about you being there, caring, and being involved. I'd hardly say we live in a child-centric society either... though some people do seem to overschedule their kids. It's up to the parents to set limits with activities. And naturally you have to take time for yourself too.

    I don't mind being known as K's Mom, as I am at story time. My being there isn't about me -- it's about him.

    No, changing diapers, making pb&j sandwiches, and chasing your child around to get him dressed are not intellectually stimulating tasks. But they're part of raising your child. That's just the way it is.

    It's not clear to me why this woman had kids. She seems to resent the fact that they have such mundane needs. Earth to Helen: You were a child once too, with simple needs!

    I feel badly for her kids that that article was printed. Then again, the kids might find that it comes in handy when they go into therapy some day.  

  7. # Blogger Binulatti

    I think it depends on what sort of life you had pre-baby. To go from a highly social, extra curricular life where one goes out more than one stays in, has a career and/or interest that demand much of the week's time and energy, and where basic daily functions like meals and sleep are irregular at best - to a life of parenthood (for whatever reasons or lack of planning) is very, very different from a person whose life is, well, somewhat more even-keeled, conservative, predictable, and settled. The former type is way more likely to resent the leap into being a mother or father because of the lifestyle conflicts. All along the way, there are more sacrifices & choices to be made for responsibilities that don't fit into the previously baby-free existence. For the latter type, parenthood is more of an extension, and certainly involves change, just not to the degree of someone who is used to 1 AM martinis and weeknight rock shows.

    I personally cannot stand the child-centric world we live in not only for the commercialism, annoyance in public, and inequality in the workplace, but for the very real politicized reasons where the right-wing has manipulated so-called "concern for children" and "family values" to influence things like censorship, gay marriage, evolution, and stem cell research to name a few.  

  8. # Blogger Dawn

    I agree with certain aspects of that article, just like you. I hate parents who are super involved (to the point of making their kids into terrible little brats that nobody likes...can't they see that?). But, I'm also a Mom who thinks that there has never been anything better in my life. My son sometimes asks these crazy questions (ok..most of the time), like 'what was the best day of your life' and 'what was the worst day of your life'? Inevitably, these days focus around him. Best day: when he was born, of course! Worst day: when he slammed his finger in the car door. When it comes to parenting, everyone has an opinion on EVERYTHING. Some opinions will be helpful. But I wouldn't hold my breath!! Just smile, and say, uh-huh, sure.  

  9. # Blogger kenju

    You are exactly right; a balance has to be found. But I would remind that mother (and I use the term loosely) who wrote the article that the daily care and teaching of children is the most important job on the planet, and should be undertaken by the child's mother - not a succession of nannies. That does not mean that said mother has to give up all other associations and relationships with adults, but it does mean she has to find a balance. Children need to know they are loved and VALUED by their families.  

  10. # Blogger Kross-Eyed Kitty

    Seems to me, that you already have a clear idea of the kind of mother that YOU want to be.
    Parenting has got to be one of the hardest jobs in the world, and no matter how you go about it, the main goal is creating a a moral, kind, responsible adult.
    Allowing your kids to control you, or allowing your kids to see that you are a bored mother, or an absent parent or whatever extreme is going to affect them in later years.
    I have confidence in you, that you will be a creative, caring, nurturing mother, and that Rich will be, likewise.  

  11. # Blogger Beagle

    I think it's unrealistic to think that any "job" will be interesting or fun all of the time. It would be nice if motherhood was more valued by society in general.

    I would want to find a balance of giving my child what he/she needs while still keeping my "self" alive. I think it's hard in the early years, but possible.

    I agree with "the princess" Like all things in life it is what you make of it, at least to a reaonable degree.  

  12. # Blogger angela

    Hi Kristi,
    an interesting article....
    I adore my kids and would, if necessary, lie down and die for them but I do admit to playing sessions of monopoly while planning next week's shopping under the table or doing pelvic floor exercises while hosting another Barbie tea party...
    You're quite right about about being Kristi with a baby. They're highly portable at that age but you will find that you'll enjoy and feel more comfortable in the company of other mothers.
    My bible was a book called something like How not to be a Perfect Mother and it was by Libby Purves. It was the only child care book that made sense to totally disorganised me.  

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  14. # Blogger Suzanne

    I'm torn. See, IMHO, I agree with the author when it comes to the drudgery of everyday tasks. There have been days when I've changed so many poopy diapers I've wanted to cry. I've resented being taken from an intellectually stimulating career to be placed in a position where all I do all day is clean and take care of kids. I recognize that I wasn't made to be a stay-at-home mom. (My littlest two weren't planned. When the 2 1/2 year old was 6 months old, I went back to work, and it was wonderful. Then I got pregnant again, and circumstances required I go back to being a stay-at-home mom. I didn't realize how hard it would be raising two kids under 3. So that's my excuse : )

    And I certainly understand when she says we mothers tend to lose ourselves. It seems as if I've ceased to exist during the past three years. I've been so caught up in the everyday drudgery of life that I've forgotten what makes me happy. I've forgotten how to be anything but Mommy. It's hard for me now to sit down and do anything that doesn't involve cleaning or children because I'm filled with guilt. I struggle everyday to find a balance between Mommy-time, family-time, husband-time, and me-time (which unfortunately usually comes last.)

    But I disagree with her when she throws in taking the kids to practices and plays and things like that. Are you kidding? That's the fun part! That's the reward for having to do all the boring stuff! I'm dreaming of the day when I can do stuff like that with the littlest two and can finally relax because everyone will be (mostly) independent! I think she has a point, but she lost me when lumped in the good stuff too.  

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