Balance is Key

Friday, July 28, 2006 10 Comments A+ a-

I was going to write about something else today but my friend, Sarah, forwarded this article to me and I must admit that I'm dumbfounded as to why this woman ever had children in the first place. I hate to judge another woman and her parenting but when the article is entitled "Sorry, but my children bore me to death!" it makes one pause and question. You can click on the title to read the entire article but I've paraphrased for you below:

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. While all of 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.

It's as though motherhood is an exclusive private club and everybody is a member except for us few. But then kids 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.

My children have gotten used to my disappearing to the gym when they're doing their prep. They know better than to expect me to sit through a cricket match, and they've completely given up on expecting me to spend school holiday taking them to museums or enjoying the latest cinema blockbuster alongside them.

When I brought it up at lunch yesterday, my friend June, a stay-at-home mother of three young children admitted that 'children are mind-numbingly boring' and the act of being with them all day and night is responsible for many mental breakdowns. 'Looking after children makes women depressed,' she concluded.

All us bored mothers can take comfort from the fact that our children may yet turn out to be more balanced that those who are love-bombed from the day they are born. Research increasingly shows that child-centered parenting is creating a generation of narcissistic children who cannot function independently.
I literally sat there in shock as I read this article. However, my friend Sarah issued a response that was so eloquently written that I'm just going to print it verbatim.

Wow! That's honesty for you. A few of my thoughts, motherhood IS a self-sacrifice but it doesn't have to be, nor should it be a self-death. I think balance is the key word. Yes, there are times when staying at home with a 2-year-old is boring and monotonous, but I can't say that is any other job I've had, there weren't just as many momentboredomordom and monotony. And as we follow Christ's example of laying down our lives for those we love, not just our children, I would hardly call tmartyrdomrydom".

The thing is no one every told us that full-time motherhood would be blissful and constantly mentally stimulating, but I can only say from experience that I'm so thankful that my own mother listened to God's calling on her life and decided to raise me herself, instead of paying someone else to do it. And besides, its mainly the early years that are a big self-sacrifice. As we encourage independence in our children, which we should by all means, not being "child-centered", our sacrifices will pay off.

We just have to be careful not to lose ourselves and our marriages along the way. We need each other for support, we need to nurture our hobbies and loves, and we neenurtureuture our minds as well. Either extreme is wrong and damaging, child-centeredness to the mother and self-centeredness to the children. I've seen "retired" full-time mothers who are products of balance and imbalance, and the difference is astounding. Those child-centered "martyrs" have no idea who they are, and continue to smother their children into adulthood. The balanced moms find themselves celebrating their increased time and independence as they expound the hobbies, activities, and careers they've been nurturing along the path of raing their children. And you know, doesn't it always seem greener on the other side?

Bottom line, I think anything we are seeking to bring us fulfillment, other than our relationship with the Lord is going to end up fall short of what we hoped it would be, including full-time motherhood or a paid career. As we make life choices about how we spend our time, what we value, and what we love, we have to constantly make those choices after seeking the Lord and feel content and confident in our decisions. Its between each woman, each person, and the Lord, it is for no one else to judge. I think there are scriptural calls on a woman that hint at the Lord's desire for us to raise our children but people always seem to forget the the Proverbs 13 woman was also a business woman, intelligent, and strong. She was busy taking care of her family, but also busy using her skills and talents, which I'm sure gave her some joy and satisfaction.

This got a bit long-winded, but I just had to respond to this poor woman's article. How sad that she's depending on self-centered activities to bring her fulfillment, just as sad as a woman who is depending on her children to bring her the same fulfillment. Balance, balance, balance!
Isn't Sarah a wise, wise woman?! I couldn't have written this better myself and I see God's truth in every word she wrote. The moment I find my children boring, the moment I don't take joy in watching their explorations and moments of learning, the moment I choose self-fulfillment over milestones in my child's life, will be a sad, wasted day in my life. I think the biggest difference between the original article and Sarah's words is seeing what the world values vs. what God values. I, for one, am so grateful to be on this side and to have the hope that He offers us in an other-wise sad world.

I’m a coffee drinking, book reading, laundry procrastinating, husband and children loving, mess of a woman who believes that chips and salsa can fix anything. We have chickens running around the backyard, a mountain of dishes in the sink, and on any given morning, I have at least 10 school forms that need my signature or initials. It’s a crazy life {I prefer to call it controlled chaos}, but its ours.

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10:57 PM delete

I couldn't agree more. We all have our bad days, but I would never, ever not want to to spend all my time nuturing and loving my children.(even when they are being the naughtist children in Brisbane! LOL

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Christine
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7:33 PM delete

I really had a hard time not being angry with this woman. Why do women like that have children in the first place? I just feel so sad for her children. What a sad upbringing for them. Someday, when they are old enough, they will ask her why she never had time for them. When they grow up, she'll be sad, because chances are, they won't have time for her.

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O Mama Mia
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5:44 AM delete

Pretty sad, no? Ellie forwarded this article to me the other day & I cried.

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10:19 AM delete

I would like to ask her children how they feel about a mother who finds them boring. They will be scarred for life.

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Anonymous
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11:56 PM delete

It's admirable that she isn't afraid of bigots' responses to her letter.

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Anonymous
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6:09 AM delete

you seem to have hit a nerve a few places. this post is quite popular in feminist circles.

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Jennifer
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6:29 AM delete

Well...um...hmmm... I really wasn't expecting my little 'ole post to be passed around among feminist circles, they aren't exactly my normal crowd, so I'm a little caught off guard. I'm not going to apologize for my post, this is exactly how I feel and I think my friend's response is absolutely correct; God will honor her for it someday.

As for bigot responses, hmmm, I don't know why I'd be afraid of that. I don't feel this is a bigoted post; simply one mother's response to another mother's article. But if someone was offended by something that was said, I'd love to hear about it.

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kac90b
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7:50 AM delete

Any mother that cannot admit that she is at times bored by her children and motherhood, even though she loves them greatly, is delusional.

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Samurai Sam
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2:26 PM delete

I have three kids and I don't think I would say that they're boring. To me that does seem somewhat harsh. However, I think anyone claiming that every moment with one's children should be stimulating and charmed is probably setting themselves up for some disappointment. No matter how much you love your kids, sometimes you crave adult stimulation that kids can't provide. To me, that's a sign in my wife that it's time for a "Mommy's night out".

I think the truth lies somewhere between your take, JennG, and Amanda's at Pandagon: I don't think kids are the monstrous burden that some think they are but I also don't think mothers should be expected to be charmed every moment by their children.

Also, JennG, your profile saddens me a bit. Being a "strong-willed" and "sassy" woman is something to be very proud of. Since you're a Christian (I'm a Freethinker, myself), you have faith that God created you as he wanted you. No need to apologize for that nor try and fix it. Be yourself and be proud of that; no doubt God has no second thoughts about His creation.

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