The Parent Guilt Train is all fired up and chugging toward a media outlet near you! It seems to have gotten on track a few weeks ago, when the Internet was all a-twitter with Helen Kirwan-Taylor, the American-born British mom (er, mum) who made headlines by saying that she was "bored" by her children. Or more accurately, with her childrens' activities. You could practically hear the message boards crackle and smoke as the media followed the story by dividing us into sides: the selfish, distant mothers who have their own interests outside the home and the saintly, self-sacrificing but somewhat pathetic mothers whose lives revolve around their children. A lot of vitriol was tossed in the direction of the writer, too, for daring to assert that mothering isn't an especially stimulating experience. Frankly, I agree with her. Mothering, and especially mothering a very young child, can feel like a tremendous drain of mental energy. What I found offensive, however, was her self-centered idea that the rest of us are thrilled to drive to soccer practices or pick Play-Doh out of our hair. Does she never talk to other moms? Heck yeah, it's boring, but it's part of the gig. Whether we're home full-time, work when we can, or commute 100 miles a day, being a mom is a tough job and yes, it does get in the way of the fun stuff we would like to do with our free time.
Speaking of jobs, Linda Hirshman says all women should have one. Based on what I could glean from The Colbert Report (yes, I get all my news from Comedy Central), Hirshman argues that all women should work in order to balance their economic position and therefore their power in society at large. And what about the kids these women might have? Who takes care of them? Hirshman says parents should divide childcare evenly. Well, okay. Yeah. That would be great. Equal contribution from both parents without fiscal penalty to either. In the meantime, before the Grand Restructuring Of Our Entire Social System is complete, what do we do? Feel bad, that's what.
So it looks like we just can't win - working mothers are too interested in their own needs and are depriving their children of crucial bonding time, and at-home mothers are child-obsessed doormats who are causing the inevitable destruction of feminism. Oh, and don't forget - anything negative our kids do once they're adults is all our fault, too.
Sigh. Exhausted maternal sigh.
I think it's about time for me to publish my long-in-the-works parenting treatise, called Get Off Our Freakin' Backs, We're Doing The Best We Can. Book signings will be held at spas across the country, all at least 100 yards from crying babies, ringing cell phones and 24-hour news stations.
posted by Mothersville