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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Brits crucify mom bored by her kids

By Cesar G. Soriano
USA Today

LONDON An American expat's newspaper confession that she sometimes finds motherhood "boring" has provoked a firestorm of controversy on both sides of the pond.

Freelance journalist Helen Kirwan-Taylor, 42, hit a nerve after the tabloid Daily Mail published her first-person essay last week under the headline, "Sorry, but my children bore me to death!"

Kirwan-Taylor, the mother of two boys, Constantin, 12, and Ivan, 10, says many tasks associated with motherhood are tedious and boring. She'd rather go shopping or have her hair done than attend another child's birthday party. When she takes her kids to movies, she spends the two hours text-messaging friends on her cell phone. She says that when her children were young, she became a workaholic to avoid having to spend time with them. She begged the nanny to read them bedtime stories.

"What kind of mother hates reading bedtime stories?" she writes. "A bad mother, that's who, and a mother who is bored rigid by her children."

The response has been swift and harsh.

On Thursday, the Daily Mail ran a follow-up article featuring two pages of readers' opinions most of them negative comments questioning her decision to have children in the first place and a column by psychologist and author Pam Spurr, who categorized Kirwan-Taylor as a SMUM smart, middle-class, uninvolved mother.

The original article has been the talk of the mommy blogosphere. A few agreed that child-rearing is not always exciting, but many more have flooded Web sites with angry comments, some unsuitable for print.

Kirwan-Taylor says she spent most of last week defending herself in interviews with newspapers, radio stations and TV networks in Europe and the United States. "I'm the most vilified woman in Britain because I don't find it interesting to change nappies (diapers)", says Kirwan-Taylor, who has lived in Britain for 18 years. She lives in the posh London neighborhood of Notting Hill, works from home and has a nanny, all of which she says have further infuriated her critics.

Kirwan-Taylor says she was shocked at the "nonstop slaughter of abuse" her article has triggered. Her husband, Charles, who declined to be interviewed, was "not happy" about the piece, she says. But son Constantin has even appeared on TV with her to defend his mum.

She says the Daily Mail tabloid spun her story to make it edgier, but she says she stands by the point of her article: to denounce the child-centric model of parenting. She was prompted to write it after feeling tremendous guilt for not taking pleasure in watching her children play, driving her children to school and other activities that other mothers seemed to enjoy.

"Up until 10 years ago, parents did not spend every waking moment with their children. We became a society where everything children say and do and think is meant to be fulfilling. Women are not allowed to have a life of their own, and if they do, it's considered selfish," she says.

Even worse than child-rearing is listening to conversations about child-rearing, she says. "The mothers in my school are so boring. They talk about packing lunches when we should be talking about the wars raging."

Kirwan-Taylor says new research shows that child-centered parenting is creating "a generation of narcissistic children who cannot function independently."

"I'm not a bad mother," she says. "I call myself a 'good enough' mother. I feed them. I'm nice to them. I cuddle them. I love them."