It's the start of the summer holidays, when millions of mothers despair at how to entertain their children for the next six weeks. What none of them dare say is that they would rather their children were still at school or, frankly, anywhere else. Helen Kirwan-Taylor, a 42-year-old writer, lives in Notting Hill, West London, with her businessman husband Charles and their sons Constantin, 12, and Ivan, ten. Here, she argues provocatively that modern women must not be enslaved by their children.
To be honest, I spent much of the early years of my children's lives in a workaholic frenzy because the thought of spending time with them was more stressful than any journalistic assignment I could imagine.
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 gal's got a point. I, like one of the women quoted in the article, found myself quite depressed at times when I was a stay-at-home mom. It's not the Nirvana Experience that it's made out to be.
That being said, I do love my children and want to be at their ball games and school plays. But I refuse to devote every ounce of my energy toward them. I'm a person with dreams and goals and talents, and I can't think it's healthy for me not to pursue those things. I think there's a balance. My kids understand that I have a need for solitude and personal pursuit occasionally and don't seem to be suffering from my inattention. In fact, I think they're better at coming up with interesting things to do because of it. Some kids I know are simply lost when faced with the prospect of entertaining themselves because they've never had to do it. Plus, I think it gives my kids some street cred when they announce that "that's my MOM up there on stage!" or "my Mom painted these pictures."
And they're not being deprived. I just picked up some information today about a local soccer league, a girls' volleyball league, and taekwando lessons. I think my kids will be doing just fine.