penelope and bumblebee

Good grammar costs nothing.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Disinterested Crybabies Are Boring

An article I read in Saturday's Globe and Mail provided the motivation I needed to sit and write a post I had been mulling over for a while.

Entitled ‘Motherhood is Boring’, and written by a blogger some of you enjoy, the piece brought to light a dirty little secret that apparently many mothers share, and apparently, is cause for celebration.

Hailed as the new wave of feminists for their outspoken honesty, these mothers can’t stand doing the things that are associated with, well, mothering. Outings to the park? Tedious. Family movies? Not without her PDA, she doesn’t. Conversation with her child? Better prep her for a lobotomy first. A craft or creative activity with her little girl? Nuh-uh. She’d way rather be blotto with her single, ‘free’ friends.

I didn’t think I could be more impressed, until one woman clarified that it is not, in fact, the things that she must do with her kids that she finds boring; it is actually the kids themselves. She says that her children bore her to death.

On the flipside, many mothers, the article says, do not feel this way. In the article, these mothers are represented by a picture of June Cleaver with the Beav. I guess moms that find their kids interesting and the job not just so much brainless drivel are old-fashioned do-gooder automatons.
And the moms that out-and-out disagree with these ‘heroes?’ well, they are just martyrs, or (this is clever) ‘sanctimommies.’ And just to be super-clear, the impression is given that bored = intelligent. I suppose that’s true, given all the lobotomized mothers you see out there, interacting with their children.

So what conclusion does this bring me to about myself as a mother? I realize that I belong to the school of ‘What Did You Expect?’ parenting.

I got pregnant at age 29. I am middle-class, educated, well-traveled and, I dare say, intelligent – like all these bored, bored, bored mothers profess to being.

I had some idea, at least a little, of what I was in for.

Chris always remarked during my pregnancy that, despite some of the (common) aches, pains and discomforts, I was handling it like a trooper.

Well, I said, I’m growing a person. It’s a tough job. What did I expect?

I had my baby at home because I believe in, and wanted, a ‘natural’ birth. Yes, there was pain. Yes, it seemed like it went on forever. Yes, I needed stitches. Yes, recovery is tough. A melon-sized head just came out of a grape-sized hole – what else did I expect?

(Oh, and Ms Scheduled C-Section Author? Don’t be making ‘like the pain of natural childbirth’ similes ‘round me.)

My child needs me to do pretty much everything for her. Well, she started off as a ball of mush and 15 months later still has trouble remaining upright. What else could I have possibly expected?

I am pretty much always tired. I have gone for days without showering. I have been puked on, shit on, spit on, bitten, kicked, pinched, poked, I have read ‘Goodnight Moon’ 8000 times but can barely get through a magazine article in one sitting. I have not worn a decent bra in 15 months, and my childless friends don’t call as often as they used to. Sometimes motherhood is really, really hard. I feel like I am making a lot of sacrifices.

I am not managing an inconvenience. I am raising a child.

She is a child that brings me joy. I do my best to bring her joy. I want her to grow up feeling secure; feeling loved; feeling important. She is worth that. She deserves that. Every single child does, regardless of how under-stimulated his or her mother feels.

And I implore these mothers: if this truly is how you feel, please, please don’t have any more children.

And I ask these mothers – these intelligent, worldly, educated mothers: Just what, exactly, did you expect?

Lots of mamas are writing about this on their own posts, which I am enjoying reading. In the essence of not spamming everyone's comments when I have my own soundboard over here, I'll just add a point that I didn't originally make here:
Too bad that the moms in the article are more into bitching about boredom than enjoying the happiness that these often tedious activities bring to their children.

And no, I have never been bored being a mom. I do certain things because I am duty-bound, and not because they are riveting, but bored? Not so much.


  • At 9:45 AM, Blogger metro mama said…

    hear, hear!

  • At 12:14 PM, Blogger metro mama said…

    I’ll say a little more now I don’t have a wriggling babe in my arms…

    I think it’s great we can admit motherhood is hard, and not always pleasant. It is harder than I expected. Yes, certain aspects of it can sometimes be tedious. But to find your children themselves boring? To not want to do kid stuff with them, like taking them to the park? Why have them in the first place? And to characterize those who do find their children interesting as “sanctimommies”? The picture of June Cleaver? Insulting.

  • At 1:37 PM, Blogger blackpurl said…

    I am not June Cleaver but I don't find my children boring. Quite the contrary. I had days where they were the life of the party! Now they are teens and I enjoy their senses of humor and hearing their thoughts on life.

    I would tell a bored mom what I used to tell my kids when they said they were bored "poor thing you must have been born without and imagination!"

  • At 4:18 PM, Blogger Laural Dawn said…

    Just found you from Urban Mummy. Great blog. I know the story you're talking about.
    I totally agree that kids' stuff can be boring. Watching the same episode of Barney 5 times yesterday morning at 6am - not exactly stimulating. But, my son, not boring at all. I don't always love the games we play, nor become entertained by the repetive play (he's 2), but I love him, and he fascinates me - and the time is too short.
    Well said.

  • At 10:51 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    I don't find my child to be boring, but the things that keep her interested bore me to tears. I knew it would be tedious (I'm not exactly a kid person) but who knew it would be this boring? I feel brain cells deteriorating hourly.

  • At 11:36 PM, Blogger Her Bad Mother said…

    That's the nuance here that needs to be emphasized - boringness of some of the details versus boringness of children generally. What I said in that article - the work of motherhood can be boring. Shit, diapers, spit, whatever - boring. And motherhood generally - HARD. Anyone who says otherwise is twisted.

    But anyone who says that their children are boring is missing a chip. My daughter is the greatest delight of my world. Yes, her shits are boring, and yes, I would rather have a martini than sterilize bottles. But *she* thrills me.

  • At 12:51 AM, Blogger bubandpie said…

    Reading that article was a strange experience - on the one hand, there were the "hear, hear!" moments (such as HBM's sound-byte), but then there were the wierdly disturbing moments (such as the woman who prefers to be at "happy hour" with her friends than home with her children, a strangely geriatric metaphor, I thought). But that's Eckler's style - deliberately crossing the line so as to generate controversy. (And look! It's working!)

  • At 2:40 AM, Blogger crazymumma said…

    Thank freakin' gawd you wrote this...I have become so tired of the eye rolling attitude that the (shall I call them 'cosmopolitans'). the cosmopolitans have towards having children.
    Really refreshing biting post...loved it.

  • At 12:34 PM, Blogger Ali said…

    i don't find motherhood boring. stressful, hard, tiring, yes. boring? no.
    i don't have the time to be bored.
    i don't find my kids boring. sure, i don't play polly pockets (on principle...i hat that frickin' rubber clothes that take five years to get on to those rubber dolls), but i love reading to my kids and taking them to the park. i love hearing about their days.

    but, yes, i do enjoy my freedom away from them from time to time. who doesn't?

    i was quoted in this article:
    "Ali Martell, a children's book editor and the mother of two young children (um...yeah...i have THREE children, though), is equally frank. Her version of freedom is leaving her kids behind (at least sometimes): "You envy your single friends, the ones who can just go out at a moment's notice for dinner, or a movie, or even to the supermarket without having to think about the kids first." "

  • At 1:15 PM, Blogger penelopeto said…

    HBM & Ali - I totally appreciate that your comments, as quoted in the article, were the voice of moderation. Obviously my reactions are to the more extreme (and I think, unfortunate)views presented.
    I would love to know how you feel about being included in the piece, and if you knew where the piece was going when you offered your words.

  • At 5:15 PM, Blogger Christina said…

    I love your take on this. I was 28 when I had my daughter. I was educated and well-read on the topic, so I knew what was coming. I am a part of your "What did you expect?" parenting circle.

    Boring? Never. Tedious? Many times, yet parenting provides many moments of joy and fun also. You have to go into this knowing that it's going to be hard, and you will never be able to completely return to the life you had before.

    Going out for drinks now and then? Sure. But expecting to have your old lifestyle is a joke, and those moms need to get over that idea quickly. Otherwise, I see no happiness in parenting for them, which is just sad.

  • At 12:31 AM, Blogger Nancy said…

    Great post! I saw the author interviewed on the Today show recently. I agree with you on everything. I bet it makes her kids feel great to know how much she resents them.

    I wonder if age has anything to do with it. I have one baby girl (6 months) and I was 40 when she was born. Maybe the “what I expected” was more realistic at 40 than it would have been at 20? And, for the record, before I “retired” to raise my baby, I was a lawyer. I’d like to think I have at least a little intelligence.

    Oh, and I am SO not June Cleaver! I have a happy baby, but a very messy house. And cooking? What's that?

  • At 9:06 AM, Blogger sunshine scribe said…

    Well said. I was offended with some of the quotes (but not all - HBM for example provided a balanced insight). Rebecca was careful not to project her opinion too much into the article and I think she did what she always does ... pushes the envelope to create controversy.

    That having been said, I personally completely disagee with the premise an intention of the article. I don't find motherhood boring or my children boring. But apparently, according to some of the self-absorbed women quoted, that is not a universally accepted point of view. For me though, the idea has never entered my brain.

    I was also a little shocked to hear it would make me more of a feminist to be so "brave" and "honest" to say my kids bored me to tears. That is the implication that got me most riled up if I am honest. Ug

    Thanks for writing this!!!

  • At 11:45 AM, Blogger tania (urban_mommy) said…

    This is a great post. I agree with it all. And most of the comments. Its too bad the article was so short, treated the topic so superficially. For me, I'm never bored. But I am embarassed a lot. Not by my kid, but by my singing and dancing and pulling faces. I must look like an idiot - or a good mother. Or, more realistically, both! Its a new reality. I'm getting used to it.

    And really, were our lives so constantly enthralling before baby? Our lives were never boring occassionally? Blaming your child is a cop-out. I bet the Author text messaged under the table during many boring dinner conversations pre-baby.

  • At 3:21 PM, Blogger something blue said…

    I partially attribute the media's attention to the complaints of mothers to the decline in the birth rate. The media has run wild creating mommy wars and warning the public how raising children is expensive and tedious. Seriously no wonder so many people are deciding not to procreate.

    After reading this post by Scarbie doll, I decided to make more of an effort to share the wonderful moments. They're there every day shining through all the times when I might need a break because becoming a mother is something to add on to my personality. It is not all encompassing. It's an amazing addition to the package. Sorry to go off on a tangent but I've been feeling overwhelmed by implications of some of the negative comments in that article.

  • At 9:26 AM, Anonymous krista said…

    I am so glad to hear moms reacting to that stupid article.

    I get what she is saying too, I don't relish in the tedious stuff, but come on!

    I think she writes for shock value, and hopefully she doesn't really believe that. If she does, I feel sorry for her.

  • At 10:22 AM, Blogger petite gourmand said…

    who has time to be bored?
    I find being a mother challenging and in some-ways exciting.
    dare I sound sanctimonious...
    there were however, times when I WAS bored pre-baby.
    How many cosmos and conversations about "do you think he'll call?" can you have?
    It's unfortunate that so many women feel the need to procreate then complain about it and feel as though they can continue their lives like it was before.

    Okay, now that I think about it..I do miss the business trips to Miami and NewYork...they were always far from boring.
    still, I wouldn't trade those experiences with the day to day joy my daughter brings me.
    never boring looking into her eyes.

  • At 11:20 AM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    I can only tell you that my understanding is that many of those moms' quotes were carefully mined to make a point. I wouldn't assume those moms are all as evil as they sound any more than I'd assume that this is the doing of FEMINISM.

    In fact, that's what bugs me the most. This has nothing to do with feminism and everything to do with narcissism. I know it's been a while since my last sociology class, but I think those are two different things.

  • At 2:42 PM, Anonymous bumblebees dad said…

    poor bored mommys.
    do you think your baby finds walking around the mall strapped into a stroller exciting? or firmly held on mommy's lap at the coffee shop while she comisserates how bored she is with barney to her friends. which is more understimulating for who, mum? you watching a hour of PBS kids or you telling them no you can't play with mommy's hot coffee or run around the store or pick up the salt and just stay in your stroller and i'm sorry she's not usually like this, just be quiet.
    sure they are happy enough wherever they are, (that's what you keep telling yourself) because they are interested in everything.
    Maybe mommy, you too can learn from baby.
    maybe the article should have had more Involved Dads in it.

  • At 11:18 PM, Anonymous blah, blah, blog said…

    I have been slow to weigh in on this topic; Mommy now takes all week to read the weekend paper. I guess you could say that one thing I frequently miss is lazy Saturday mornings lounging in bed with coffee and the Globe...

    Late as I am to respond, I do think there remain a few things to be said, particularly on the notion of uninvolved mothers. Eckler suggests SMUMS could be considered a ‘new wave’ of feminists. To my thinking, the sense that SMUMS are feminist seems to draw on a 1970s, or second wave, version of feminism in that these women are a) challenging dominant ideologies of women as ‘naturally’ nurturing (granted, an on-going process) and, b) giving voice to women’s experience, particularly those experiences which challenge dominant ideologies (obviously, the two are closely related). 1970s feminism has been heavily and rightfully critiqued by women of colour and Lesbian women who note that ‘women’s’ experience’ usually translates to that of white, middle class women, and diversity among women, thier issues and their goals continues to be obscured. Hey, if you want to talk tedious, let’s consider mothering in the face of discrimination or crushing poverty.

    Others have already commented on the rhetorical devices Eckler employs in her attempts to generate a newsworthy piece and, in a similar vein, I question how many of the women quoted in the article actually consider themselves to be SMUMS? Even for those women who do--Helen Kirwin-Taylor, the woman who finds her children to be a bore, perhaps--I wonder if Eckler has done them a disservice? The feminist agenda is not just for women to be heard, but for women to be heard with comprehension, if not compassion. Having read her article, I no better understand why these women feel the way they do. Like many of you, I am perplexed as to what Kirwin-Taylor was expecting and why she even had children. Did she really not realize what it would be like? I find this unlikely. Did she have some sort of ‘I bear, you care’ arrangement with her children’s father? (Eckler notes the absence of male caregiver’s in the article but I feel she needed to explore this dynamic much further). Does she have a political agenda; is she drawing attention to the fact that men have routinely had the option of being an uninvolved parent open to them and that is should be no different for women?

    I also think Eckler would have done well to explore this notion of uninvolved mothering in relation to other images of mothers currently popular. SMUMS are clearly set up in opposition to attachment parenting. (Which makes the photo of Barbara Billingsly all the more ironic; you can well bet that the Beav spent many a disgruntled moment in his play pen as June laundered and pressed Ward’s shirts). Motherhood is also currently very trendy (if rampantly consumeristic) as is suggested by Eckler’s weekly column. How can SMUMS be read as commentary on, or a rejection of, these sorts of images?

  • At 9:34 AM, Blogger penelopeto said…

    Well said, ladies and dads.

  • At 1:23 AM, Blogger scarbie doll said…

    I'm late to this party, but you have it spot on. Some shit's boring, but the kids themselves are ultimately anything but boring. That's such a UK thing. You don't even see children in London. They're all away at boarding school unless they're poor, in which case they are hidden away behind huge gates.

    Psst: I don't dig Miss planned C-section either. (I had one and it was a bitch -- I don't wish that on anyone. It's major surgery!) She tries to stir up shit and then tries to be everyone's best friend after. Homey don't play that.

  • At 10:49 AM, Blogger SpeakEasy said…

    Hear, hear to Bumblebee's Dad!!!

    What about the Dad's?

    I could not agree more with your original comments! Having a baby is a wonderful experience and has resulted in over 20 months of pure joy and excitement in the UrbanMummy/UrbanDaddy household.

    That is why I cringe when people like Britney Spears has a kid and treats it like a toy. Children should not have children. It's a BIG responsibility to raise this child to be a better person than w are. Adjustments have to be made. Life changes.

    You seem to have your head on straight and see life as it truely is. Keep up the great postings and updates.

    Bumblebee is a real cutie! Maybe one day she'll meet our Happy Boy.

  • At 7:05 PM, Blogger Heidi said…

    Here, here, TBH (and I have said this often in the past), the aforesaid writer in question just #$&*#%&* me and that she has really NO idea about modern parenting (which BTW is everything you said and more).

    And FWIW, I never think my kids are boring...and besides which who has time to be a SMUM anyway?

    Great blog, thanks for sharing!

  • At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well, I did find the blog rather sanctimonious. However, what upset me more than anything was the subtitle "good grammar costs nothing". The article has used two incorrect past tenses and has incorrectly used a common expression.


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