Rebecca Eckler is one of Canada's most talked about newspaper columnists, the author of Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother to Be, which has been translated into nine languages. Also the author of the bestsellers, Wiped!, Toddlers Gone Wild, and Rotten Apple, the first in a YA series. Random thoughts on life in the competitive world of modern mommyhood. Blog will be loved by trendy mothers who still feel, or often feel, that the most important word in "mommee" is ME!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Are you a Bored Mother?

Ok, now that this topic has been beaten to death, I'd still like to contribute...

Yes, I did write the Bored mummies article in the Globe and Mail's Focus section last Saturday....

And ever since I wrote it, I've been asking myself, "Are you bored Rebecca? Does The Dictator bore you?"

See, here's the thing. Although *some* people somehow read into the story that Rebecca Eckler was a bored mommy, I never actually wrote that. I never once wrote, "I'm bored! My daughter bores me!" So re-read the story.

That being said, I can completely understand women who do find some aspects of motherhood boring.

I do.

Trust me, the minute I realized that I had four copies of Goodnight Moon in my home, in almost every fucking room, I knew that book was going to bore me to tears.

I'm sorry, good book or bad book, any book you have to read 1000 times DOES become boring.

Here's the problem with this *war* between mothers, those on the one side that do, courageously, admit that they find certain aspects of being a mother boring, and those on the other side, who think that every fucking second with their child is the best thing, the creation of cookie dough cheesecake.

The problem is is that if you tell me that you think every second with your child is the most fun you've ever had, I'm not going to believe you.

Yes, no matter what you tell me, I'm going to either think you are a liar, have great repression skills, or that you are on some enviable drugs.

However, if you tell me that you refuse to do *anything and everything* that you find boring with your child, ever, than I am going to think you aren't a great mother and you probably shouldn't have any more children.

So, am I bored?

No. No, I am not.

You know why? Because I once had two jobs during the summer during university, one calling people out of a fucking phone book all day long, and another putting Q-tips in baggies for eight hours a day.

Both those jobs were friggen boring, so boring that I could honestly fall asleep at my desk while doing them.

I do not really enjoy reading the same book, night after night, nor do I love hearing, "Swiper! No Swiping!" 3000 times a day, but I've never fallen asleep while doing those things.

I plan well now to make sure I'm never bored.

For example, I will spend the entire day with The Dictator at Center Island, asking her every five minutes if she needs "to go to the potty" or putting suntan lotion on her 50 times a day at a cottage. And then I'll go out for a couple hours at night.

And, the thing is - and this is the main thing - no matter how tedious some of the things us mothers have to do, the minute I step out the door to do some "fun" adult things with friends or alone, I immediately miss The Dictator.

Is motherhood boring? Um, try putting Q-tips in baggies for 8 hours a day, for two months, and then tell me.


Blogger Julie Julie Bo Boolie said...

Bravo! There is a place somewhere between not wanting to do anything with your kids and being completely obessed with your kids -- and right there, in that middle, is really where a good mom should be. Well right there with margaritas chilling in the fridge anyhow ;)

3:04 PM

Anonymous BC Fan said...

I definately would not use the term 'boring', I also would not say I enjoy EVERY moment (though like you, once it's time to be away I feel sad) sometimes tedious and agonizing may seem like appropriate descriptions. Particularly at teeth brushing time, time to get up for school, time to shut of the DVD player (yes it's portable and the best invention EVER!!!), but boring, no.

3:40 PM

Blogger Pendullum said...

Ohh Yeah...
I can not tell you how many playdoh snakes I have made...
I can not tell you how many Barbie scenarios I have lived through... as it is a complete fog...
It is mind blowing how I kept on singing The RollingStones song about 'mother's little helper' over and over in my head...
and then... then there is a break in the clouds and Gawwwddd declares you deserve a break... you deserve Playdates... You deserve... 'Oh, Momma I will just read this on my OWN!' and the heavens sing...
and there is light!!!!

P.s. I saw your wee face in Toronto Life with Raymond...Have not seen him in years, before children!!!... I was looking at the pic of him in my kid's dentist office and then I screamed... Hey, THE NINEPOUND DICTATOR!!!! My daughter says' Who???'
and Girl... you looked good...

4:01 PM

Blogger Laural Dawn said...

I'm so with you on this - and, I read the article, and you're right. It just showed both sides. I think that just because YOU wrote it people assume that you were saying you are bored. Which isn't fair.
The thing is, having read your blog, it's pretty clear that you aren't bored.
I read the original article that this whole topic came from, and a bunch of different blogs about it after.
You're right, some parts of parenting are boring. I have been caught checking my blackberry while my son is in the playground playing with friends. I sometimes tune out during Barney, and I don't have all the lyrics to Matt's songs memorized.
And, I, too get SO sick of reading certain books (for us it's a number book - not goodnight moon), saying "knock knock" over and over and over.
But, like you, my kid doesn't bore me. And, that's the important thing.

4:22 PM

Blogger Kirsty said...

I read the article on Saturday...and enjoyed..
I was speaking to a friend before the article came out and she summed it up for me. She said she loved her baby, loved being and mom, it was the housewife part that she didn't like. She didn't mind picking up after her baby, and all the other things that come along with being a mom -- it was cleaning up after the other "adult" in the house and the expectations around that.

4:50 PM

Blogger chichimama said...

I agree with you totally. I find many things boring about parenting, but am not bored. And anyone who tells me they love every minute of it gets an eye roll. Sorry, you just can't convince me you love getting up 7 times a night to deal with a screaming child. You just can't.

5:19 PM

Anonymous Shandra said...

I love your take on this debate. I never actually worked shovelling wet cardboard onto a conveyor belt, but I had to check up on a worker who did - that's my definition of a boring job.

6:24 PM

Blogger Jenn said...

Any mother who cuts short a trip to Italy to see her kid is definitely not bored by them.
Any mother who spys on their kid at daycamp to make sure they are having fun cares greatly about their child.
Any mother who enjoys watching "Finding Nemo" for the 825th time is a big fat liar.

We love our kids, we enjoy our kids - and yes some things are boring. Nobody ever said being a mother is going to be 100% sunshine and lollipops. But life is boring without kids too. perhaps more so. I'll take Nemo over stuffing q-tips in a bag anyday. We have multiple copies of Goodnight Moon too, although my kids were always more partial to "Moo; Baa, La La La" instead.

7:22 PM

Blogger JennC said...

I don't consider being a mom boring. How can a house that is filled up with laughter, with the sound of kids battling or running up stairs be "boring"?

It's not the boredom that kills me. It's the tediousness.

It's freaking tedious to be a mom. Making dinners for crabby eaters. Bellowing at them to stop fighting and take their bath or go to bed already. Do their homework, clean their room, banging my head on the wall because I feel hopeless and can no longer deal with it all.

Boring no.

2:17 AM

Blogger metro mama said...

I once had a summer job for a pub where I spent the whole day cutting raw chicken wings in half.

That was boring. Motherhood? Not so much.

5:19 AM

Blogger Ashley said...

I'm almost 21 and I have never been to Centre Island. *sigh*

7:36 AM

Blogger HomeMom said...

Wow - there are elements of motherhood that are boring?
No kidding. Aren't there elements of anything in life that are boring?
I used to get bored going to my 'fabulous' job every day.
I used to get bored of history homework in high school.
I used to get bored of going dance class, or hockey games with boyfriends, or anything else for that matter.
I don't think anyone will disagree that there are elements of mummyhood, like anything else on the planet, that get boring.
But I guarantee, that from our kids perspective, our KIDS get bored too !
And, see, when you become a mummy, it's not all about US anymore, it's about them. The little bundles of sweet, cuddly, attitude-filled, frustrating wonderful, funny, non-sleeping, kissable, kids.
So if you get bored, suck it up. Life isn't all about college street parties, expensive shoes and bitching to your girldfriends about how bored you are.
Guess what - kids are savvy. If they see mom is shallow, what are they going to turn out like?

8:11 AM

Blogger Her Bad Mother said...


I tried explaining this on CH news when they used me in their follow-up story to this article (because they deduced from my quote that mommy bloggers blog because they're bored) - that I am NOT bored, far from it, but that I do find aspects of motherhood boring and that I appreciate having a forum wherein I can say so and know that thousands of other paretns are going to know exactly what I mean, and know that I can feel that way AND still be thrilled and in love with my child.

Media hates a nuance.

8:41 AM

Anonymous DavidR said...

Good Debate, since my spouse just left for NYC for 4 days.

So I am here with the kids for 4 days and I have decided to go camping... if we would have stayed home all weekend I, she(3) and he(1) would have most likely been bored. I also find it's a state of pump yourself up to make the perfect voice for the wolf for the 400th time is quite the challenge. Anybody tried to throw in curves in the story to see if the kids listen?

As for mom...leaving for 4 days...did it mean she was bored? Maybe, Maybe not, exhausted probably, needing a change of scenery probably.

I installed dirty sod for a whole summer. The notion of having no control or escape from it is probably what made it boring. I didn't know I could just quit a lousy job! While the other kids were working at the convenience store eating stolen popsicles.

I might have a different perspective on this topic on monday!


9:55 AM

Blogger Kristen said...

Boring? Nope. Annoying? Sometimes! Unpredictable? Oh hell yeah. Do I yearn for adult conversation and wish I could get out ALONE sometimes? Of course. But would I change it? NO WAY!

I totally know where you're coming from!

2:07 PM

Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Tedious - yes, that's the word for it. Repetitive to the point of inducing nausea - absolutely.

But what gets us all through it is the unpredictability, in the midst of all the tedium and repetition. Unpredictability that makes us laugh and cry and remember why we enjoy this parenting gig so much.

10:47 AM

Blogger Mom101 said...

Pleased to here your take on this. I'm with HBM - nuance doesn't fly in most circles. There's a difference between being bored with motherhood and bored by some of the repetitive tasks it necessitates.

I do however take a wee bit of issue with the implication that this is the all caused by feminism. It's caused by narcissism. That's it.

2:52 PM

Anonymous blah, blah, blog said...

Having read the article, I didn’t come away with the sense that you yourself were a bored mother; more that you wanted to explore the notion of SMUMS and the backlash that women face if they dare admit that they find motherhood boring. And I think these are issues that warrant further examination. Why was there such an uproar on baby blogs across the city? What’s at stake here?

To dismiss it as “*war* between mothers, those on the one side that do, courageously, admit that they find certain aspects of being a mother boring, and those on the other side, who think that every fucking second with their child is the best thing, the creation of cookie dough cheesecake” is rather facile and unconvincing.

I’m not convinced that such a war exists beyond media fabrication. Every mother I’ve spoken with readily admits that certain aspects of parenting are indeed tedious. As did the blogging moms responding to your article. And, yes, I do realize that, “Women find certain aspects of motherhood occasionally boring” is not newsworthy.

I think the more productive approach is to examine SMUMS (and I would question how many of the women you quote actually consider themselves as such; there is a significant difference between bored and unattached)--and the reaction against them--in light of other discourses of motherhood.

I address this in more detail in a post I’ve included below, should you be interested...

I have been slow to weigh in on this topic; Mommy now takes all week to read the weekend paper. I guess you could say that one thing I frequently miss is lazy Saturday mornings lounging in bed with coffee and the Globe...

Late as I am to respond, I do think there remain a few things to be said, particularly on the notion of uninvolved mothers. Eckler suggests SMUMS could be considered a ‘new wave’ of feminists. To my thinking, the sense that SMUMS are feminist seems to draw on a 1970s, or second wave, version of feminism in that these women are a) challenging dominant ideologies of women as ‘naturally’ nurturing (granted, an on-going process) and, b) giving voice to women’s experience, particularly those experiences which challenge dominant ideologies (obviously, the two are closely related). 1970s feminism has been heavily and rightfully critiqued by women of colour and Lesbian women who note that ‘women’s’ experience’ usually translates to that of white, middle class women, and diversity among women, thier issues and their goals continues to be obscured. Hey, if you want to talk tedious, let’s consider mothering in the face of discrimination or crushing poverty.

Others have already commented on the rhetorical devices Eckler employs in her attempts to generate a newsworthy piece and, in a similar vein, I question how many of the women quoted in the article actually consider themselves to be SMUMS? Even for those women who do--Helen Kirwin-Taylor, the woman who finds her children to be a bore, perhaps--I wonder if Eckler has done them a disservice? The feminist agenda is not just for women to be heard, but for women to be heard with comprehension, if not compassion. Having read her article, I no better understand why these women feel the way they do. Like many of you, I am perplexed as to what Kirwin-Taylor was expecting and why she even had children. Did she really not realize what it would be like? I find this unlikely. Did she have some sort of ‘I bear, you care’ arrangement with her children’s father? (Eckler notes the absence of male caregiver’s in the article but I feel she needed to explore this dynamic much further). Does she have a political agenda; is she drawing attention to the fact that men have routinely had the option of being an uninvolved parent open to them and that is should be no different for women?

I also think Eckler would have done well to explore this notion of uninvolved mothering in relation to other images of mothers currently popular. SMUMS are clearly set up in opposition to attachment parenting. (Which makes the photo of Barbara Billingsly all the more ironic; you can well bet that the Beav spent many a disgruntled moment in his play pen as June laundered and pressed Ward’s shirts). Motherhood is also currently very trendy (if rampantly consumeristic) as is suggested by Eckler’s weekly column. How can SMUMS be read as commentary on, or a rejection of, these sorts of images?

10:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

YEEEEEES! I love my daughter more than anything else in the world, she is the very best thing to have ever happened to me, EVER. Yet, when I am spending an entire afternoon looking after her, I just HAVE TO work out a way to watch an episode of The Closer or I will go crazy. Glad to know I'm not alone.

10:48 PM


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