Work Life Balance

I Don’t Judge You For Disliking Motherhood, So Don’t Judge Me For Loving It

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Well, as Shawna already mentioned, the media loves a good Mommy War lately. And the latest piece to stir up controversy is by Julie Cook, titled “I Love My Son, But Being A Mother Bores Me.”

I approached this article with a little trepidation. The idea of being above regular motherhood, with its debates over jarred or homemade baby food and whether to let kids cry it out, is not exactly new. There’s been a growing backlash to the so-called mombies, women who are consumed with everything mommy and can’t talk about anything besides their offspring.

But from the beginning, I had to appreciate Cook’s honesty. It’s not easy to admit that, “In fact, I didn’t know until I had my son — and found myself forcibly immersed in this world of play dates and parenting talk — how much I actively dislike children. Other people’s, that is.” It’s not easy to face the criticism from people who will say, “You should have figured that out before you had kids.” And plenty will say that.

More will say, “You shouldn’t talk about it because your son will read this someday.” And I think that’s the biggest problem for many mothers. We’re afraid to admit that motherhood isn’t all we hoped it would be. We don’t want to say out loud that we don’t actually care about cloth vs. disposable diapers all the time. Or, the sin of all sins, we miss the times when we didn’t have the responsibility of motherhood.

There were a lot of points in Cook’s argument that I could understand. And even if I hadn’t felt them personally, I could sympathize with her position. Even though more and more people are talking about their disdain for the minutiae of motherhood or mommy conversations, it’s difficult to stand up in a national publication and say, “Motherhood can be boring.” No matter how much we all understand that toddlers simply do not provide witty banter or thought-provoking dialogue, someone will be offended you when say that sitting cross-legged on the floor and watching your son gum blocks isn’t exciting for you.

In all these ways, I could really understand what Cook was trying to get across, but I was still nervous. And near the end of the piece, the author proved my hesitation warranted. She just had to finish her piece by railing on the mothers who don’t share her feelings. When talking about the mothers who didn’t agree with her boredom, Cook said this:

It was as if because these women had produced a child, they’d had to erase their own past, their hopes, even their futures. They were mothers now, not people. Their only topics of conversation were their children’s achievements — perhaps because they’d had to let so many of their own goals go unachieved.

Here was the condescension that had worried me from the beginning – finally making it’s statement. It’s not just that Julie Cook is bored with motherhood. It’s that the mothers who aren’t bored are obviously ignorant failures trying to live through their kids. I was find with admitting that motherhood wasn’t all she expected until she had to offend anyone who didn’t feel the same way. Justifying your own point by insulting someone else’s never works. It only weakens your argument.

This mom is asking us not to judge her too harshly. She wants us to understand that she can still be a good mother, even if she doesn’t like everything about the experience. And she’s completely unwilling to accept that some people can like motherhood and still be their own interesting person.

I enjoy sitting cross-legged on the floor with a toddler and playing with toys. I enjoy discussing sleep techniques and organic food with other moms. I have no problem talking potty-training at the park. But that doesn’t mean that I’m a soulless shell who only thinks about children. It doesn’t mean I’m incapable of having interests and opinions outside of parenthood. And if Julie Cook doesn’t want me to judge her based on her lack of interest in motherhood, maybe she could afford me the same courtesy?

(Photo: Jason Stitt/Shutterstock)