Thursday, August 03, 2006

Helen Kirwan-Taylor has lost her Mojo

Helen Kirwan-Taylor's piece about how boring motherhood really is worked its way into my brain. Last night I dreamed about my own daughter's birthday party and today I woke up thinking about this blog posting. In my dream, I showed up for my daughter's party totally unprepared, and the other mothers had organized it for me down to the last detail. They were disapproving of my slacking off, but they had saved the day for me.

I've tried to stay open-minded about Kirwan-Taylor's missive. It's healthy to vent once in a while, but what worries me is that she isn't describing a bad day or a bad week, but a dissatisfaction with the whole enterprise. To be fair to her, she sounds like she's not different than many Dads, who can remain minimally interested in their kids without drawing a lot of attention to themselves. But taking on the taboo against dissing motherhood in such a public way, Kirwan-Taylor must have known she was throwing a Molotov cocktail into the parenting blogosphere.

I can only conclude that Kirwan-Taylor has lost her mojo. It concerns me that she is rarely "present" as she moves through her mothering duties. In her own words, Kirwan-Taylor talks about doing anything she can to avoid being with her kids (her quotes are in italics):

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.

"Workaholic frenzy" just about sums up her addiction to avoidance.

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.

You don't have to stay at home full time to be an involved mother. It is necessary to truly check in and make a connection--on a daily basis!!--when you are with your kids.

I spent two hours texting friends throughout a screening of Pirates Of The Caribbean the other day.

I'll admit that I've fallen asleep in kids' movies before, but spending the whole time text messaging is true checking out.

All those glossy magazine spreads showing celebrity mothers looking serene at home with their children serve only to make women feel inadequate.

I agree with this thought, but the solution is to find your own way of doing it, hopefully a way that allows for true connection with your kids.

Psychotherapist Kati St Clair has listened to the frustrations of scores of mothers. 'Women now feel great pressure to enjoy their children at all times,' she says. 'The truth is, a lot of it is plain tedium. It's very unlikely that a mother doesn't love her child, but it can be very dull. Still, it takes a brave woman to admit that.'

Yes, apects of mothering can be dull, but that's not an excuse to check out permanently. There has to be something that connects parents and kids. There must be some common ground that can be agreed on, especially with 10 and 12 year old kids. It's not like she's still in the diaper-changing stage.

They stopped asking me to take them to the park (how tedious) years ago. But now when I try to entertain them and say: 'Why don't we get out the Monopoly board?' they simply look at me woefully and sigh: 'Don't bother, Mum, you'll just get bored.'

I know her sons have defended their Mom, but it's sad to hear that they've given up on the possibility of having fun with her.

I don't think Kirwan-Taylor is unique or even that unusual. In America, at least, I feel like many of us are sleepwalking through life. Mindless TV watching, alcohol, drugs, internet shopping, workaholism, email, cell phones, text messaging--we have so many ways to distract ourselves. In the meantime life passes us by. I know this is a strange source of wisdom, but I keep thinking of Yoda saying about Luke Skywalker, "Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing." We're more connected to our electronic devices than our families. I think it's important to keep in mind Judy Stadtman Tucker's wise words: motherhood is not a job, it's a relationship. We can't just go through the motions and expect our family relationships to thrive.

As for Helen Kirwan-Taylor, I'd recommend two things for her. First, a meditation class to teach her to exist in the present and stop running away from life as it unfolds before her. (If having a quiet mind present in the moment is too scary and painful, maybe therapy could help find out what she's really running away from.) Second, I'd recommend that she, her husband and sons sit down and plan a family vacation they can all get excited about. They should leave all their cell phones etc. behind and give themselves a chance to have fun together.

Here's the essential truth that Kirwan-Taylor missed: It's precisely because motherhood is so challenging that it's key to find ways to have fun by ourselves and with our families. Spacing out and avoidance won't cut it in the long run.

On that note, I'd better practice what I preach. I'm turning off my laptop and heading out to the lake.


Blogger PunditMom said...

I, too, was troubled by that piece. And I like your take about losing her mojo ... I lose and find mine all the time, and need to get on a motherhood mojo quest to discover ways to keep it from fading when I'm working or otherwise preoccupied. Off to the pool today with my daughter, I think! That may be a good start.

6:59 AM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Finding your mojo is definitely a recurring goal, not a permanent destination, that is for sure! Knowing that keeps me sane when I am down and helps me stay optimisitic.

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am taken by your comment, "As for Helen Kirwan-Taylor, I'd recommend two things for her. First, a meditation class to teach her to exist in the present and stop running away from life as it unfolds before her. (If having a quiet mind present in the moment is too scary and painful, maybe therapy could help find out what she's really running away from.)" As you may know, Helen is now examining the scary and painful in her life.

4:01 PM  

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