The Challenges and Rewards of Parenthood

She can't be serious. That was my first thought when I read about the outrage over Helen Kirwan-Taylor's column 'Sorry, but my children bore me to death.' I thought that perhaps Kirwan-Taylor was being satirical and misunderstood -- like Jonathan Swift's 'A Modest Proposal.' Surely no one would admit that their children constantly bore them. Then I read the original article (it can be found here) and realized she really is bored to death with her kids. Apparently parenthood is an inconvenience to things Kirwan-Taylor finds more important: her career, shopping, and chatting with her adult friends.

How sad.

Kirwan-Taylor writes, '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 journalist assignment I could imagine.... 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.'

Being a parent is the most difficult and challenging thing I've ever done but it isn't for everyone. It requires endless hours of sacrifice. There are diapers to change and messes to clean. There are sleepless nights whether the child is two or 17. It's a lifetime commitment. Even after children have left the nest, parents still worry and pray for them.

And, yes, there are times when parenting is overwhelming, tedious, and boring. My two-year-old son's favorite game is to stand at the top of the stairs and throw balls while I wait at the bottom to throw them back. After 10 minutes, the game is boring. Yet I play it with him for as long as he wants to because he loves it. The joy on his face is priceless and more valuable to me than any promotions, job, awards, or book deals.

Parenting, unlike Kirwan-Taylor's claim, is more than feeding, clothing, and letting your kids know that you love them. It also involves showing that you love them. After work I could spend my time reading, writing, or watching Sports Center but I choose to play with my kids. The most rewarding moment of my day is coming home and having my two-year-old son greet me at the door, hug my legs, and then tug at my hand while asking me to come play toys with him.

Like all parents, my wife and I need some time to ourselves. We savor the rare evening out on the town together. Those few hours away don't make us wish we didn't have children; rather, it makes us energized and excited to be with them again. We've also managed to have an 'adult life' that Kirwan-Taylor craves without making our kids feel like they're a second priority. I write books during nap time or after the kids are in bed. My wife trains for marathons. If you've ever seen her push our double-wide baby stroller while running sub seven minute miles, you'll understand why her neighborhood nickname is Superwoman.

With parenting, like all things in life, you get out what you put in. Now that Kirwan-Taylor's children are 10 and 12, they appear to show the same indifference towards their mother that she shows to them. She concludes her essay by writing, 'They [my children] 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.''

Apparently the boredom cuts both ways.


This essay was originally published on You can read all of Abel's FreeCapitalist essays here.

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