By Anita Doberman: Local Columist
USA Today published an article about a freelance writer, Helen Kirwan-Taylor, who wrote an essay on how her children bore her to death, and how she would rather do anything than spend time with them.
Having five children, you can imagine I had many thoughts after reading this article, not all of them nice. Apparently many readers in England, where the piece first appeared, were appalled.
First, I want to invite Kirwan-Taylor to my house. I have an antidote to her boredom. It consists of keeping up with cooking, cleaning, kids’ playing and fighting, and endless diapers. I think one afternoon at my house should do it.
Second, I thought about the sadness of her statements. She said she begged the nanny to read to her children when they were little. She also said that she hated birthday parties and school events, and found other mothers very boring.
Sorry, but if Kirwan-Taylor cannot see the privilege in watching her children grow and has a hard time making friends, she is probably the boring one.
Third, I was angry. More than anything, this writer, who works from home but has a full-time nanny and lives in a prestigious London neighborhood, was talking as if she were entitled to a life of endless fun. Her children are simply another box to check, marked on some list out there that says you need a couple of kids to be a proper adult, but that there’s no expectation to actually care for them.
I have met many women like Kirwan-Taylor, especially from affluent liberal backgrounds. In fact, before having children I too felt that “I” was the most important person. But after getting married and having little ones, I realized that the “I” becomes the “We” and that family comes first.
When I chose to stay home with my children, I willingly made the sacrifice to put my own career on hold. I love to write and there are days when I would like nothing better than to go out on assignments for a newspaper.
Yet, I sit down with my youngest daughter Eva and we play “Dora Meet Diego.” Hearing her little voice beginning to form sentences and telling me how to save “baby jaguar” gives me more happiness than any newspaper assignment (but if anyone from the New York Times wants to contact me, we can work something out…).
As mothers, we are “bored” with our children when we put ourselves first. My family life works much better when I put my husband and my children first, and not so well when “I” want to be first.
It is sad that in this society the “I” has become so important to overshadow the “We” of the family, which becomes lost in the liberal discourse highlighting personal fulfillment above all else. You can certainly have help, but you cannot pay a nanny to be your children’s mother just because you don’t want to. That’s insulting to the millions of women (and men) who have no choice but to be part-time parents out of fiscal necessity.
Kirwan-Taylor may have forgotten what it means to make sacrifices. Motherhood can be difficult and challenging but the rewards far outweigh what you give up.
I hope Kirwan-Taylor stops by my house sometime soon. We’ll start with changing the baby’s diapers and feeding the 10-month-old. I am certain she will forget all about her boredom.