New York Magazine Feature: “I Love my Children. I Hate My Life.”

There is no denying that motherhood is as amazing and enjoyable as it is difficult, stressful and monotonous, and while I would not trade it for anything in the entire world I do appreciate some of the honesty of this recent feature that ran this week in New York Magazine titled “I Love My Children. I Hate My Life”. It seems to be the modern problem — and especially for those women who had children later in life after a long stretch on independence. I can only speak for myself here but all too often I find myself in a never ending inner dialogue of “am I getting this right?”, “am I a failure because I feel stressed out about meal planning” and “am I a bad mom for taking a break from time to time?”  Not to mention feeling discombobulated in general about my role OUTSIDE of being a mother.  

The bar for motherhood is so high these days and I think the pressure has stripped a lot of the pure joy out of it, and although I try not to succumb to it too much it’s difficult to ignore.  Am I a bad mom because I don’t LOVE sitting on the floor doing art projects for hours or reading the same book again and again every single night? Is a piece of me missing because I am not smiling ear-to-ear when I am begging my kids to go to bed or scrambling to get them off to school in the morning? Sometimes I would just love to play with my girls and not be thinking about what I am going to make for dinner.   Anyway – for what it is worth, I thought it was an interesting article, if somewhat depressing, but worth a read.



Comments (22)

July 9, 2010

Yes, depressing…but you are right. It WAS worth the read. It discussed many of the things I think about and discuss with my husband (when we have the energy to talk) all the the time. We get a lot of snide comments about having one child and choosing not to have any more. The fact that we have no extended family and the strain of two working parents was a big adjustment when we had a child. I love my tot more than the world itself, but I have no desire to have any more children.
I also think the information about other countries is really interesting. I have always thought that because we live in America, with no paid maternity leave and subsidized day care and health insurance…etc that parenting is harder.
I am also amazed at how much I have to focus on my marriage now and MYSELF and how guilty I feel when I take any time away from my son.
Thanks for the article.

Dina in NYC
July 9, 2010

Tina – Thanks for insightful and honest comments. Everyone that I know in NYC is totally obsessed with the article! and although it was a depressing read I thought spoke truthfully about the reality of things. Women have been given unrealistic expectations that “they can have it all and do it all” and unless you are superhuman – I don’t see how it is possible – something has to give (or suffer a bit) when you have kids. You always hear about how hard it is but you never really believe it, or understand it, until you are there….and when you are there, you feel that your love for your children should conquer all the other stress in your life…but love and day-to-day life are two different things…

July 9, 2010

Hi Dina
I really like your posts and your writing. Thank you for sending this. I am telling my husband to read it as well 🙂
I am a mum of two, currently on maternity leave. Compare to my childless friends, I am much happier than them although my life is more complicated. I have never found anything like motherhood so difficult and yet so rewarding and fulfilling. With regards to the thought of “we can have the cake and eat it”; maybe other women can, but in my case I find that working outside/inside home is hard to manage. Based on my experience, one side suffers and let’s not forget the mum in the process….

July 10, 2010

Interesting article, parenting and the feelings associated with it are very complex. I think that parenting has made me more patient and understanding of others, more compassionate and less intollerant. I’m still trying to find the balance between work and childrearing, after reading that article I’m not sure it exsists.

July 12, 2010

Hi Dina, I have seen the reference to the article on Vanity fair first, went to NY magazine to read it and even made a post entry myself. Now I see it here as well.. I truly think that everything is relative. A few generations ago parents would not indulge in the luxury of thinking: Could we have it all? Am I truly happy? How many children should I have? Should I try IVF? Before our time, the pill, positive psychology, women entering the workforce and thriving in it, assisted reproduction, and even antibiotics, were yet to come…I guess my point is that yes we owe it to ourselves to try to be the best we can, our best version, and that includes the decisions about having children, but also acknowledge that we have it way better than our parents, the laundry is done by a machine, we can choose wether to buy disposable diapers or not, and we do get the penicillin to treat an infection and go on living. Better to continue pushing for change, and expand on what we are already so lucky to have. Change legislation, for instance, I find shocking that there is no long-term paid maternity leave in US, while in Canada, mothers do get a year off work to care for their newborns. After all the studies do show that a stronger welfare system produces happier parents.
btw love the site, made a permanent link, all the best.

July 12, 2010

I meant wHether…..oops, typing too fast

Esther in Amsterdam
July 12, 2010

Yes, super interesting. We have so much to think about these days, and the roles we have as modern mums are so different than those of our grandmothers… No wonder we feel stressed out, and incompetent. We live in a society where we constantly need to prove ourselves, as mothers, as career-women, as wives, as girlfriends… We need to know how to knit, know how to bake a layered pink birthday cake, know how to successfully run a business, know who’s the president of Italy and meanwhile keep the French manicure in perfect shape. Come-on, something will have to give, and if it’s not the nails it’s probably our nerves… Maybe we’re too hard on ourselves, and maybe we want everything too perfect.
I loved that one sentence — maybe the meaning of happiness is leading a productive, purposeful life…
(PS it took me a few days before I had the time to sit down and read this essay!)

July 13, 2010

I think, not unlike the recent NY Times piece about mom blogging, some readers had a knee-jerk to the sensational headline without acknowledging many of the truisms in the article. Although it could have been substantially more balanced–perhaps interviewing some moms who say they are happier than ever–I’m not upset with the way the NY mag article shed light on the very hard, often thankless work of parenting. It’s also prompted me to check in with my own happiness as a mom, and served as a good reminder to ask for a little more help.

July 16, 2010

hardest job ever. no other job takes you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions on a daily basis. as a mother of 3, i find myself going from frustration over the oldest waiting til the last minute to pee, and getting urine all over EVERYTHING in the powder room for the 3rd time that week; to excitement over first words from my youngest; to compassion when my middle child gets banged in the foot by my youngest rolling around the kitchen in her walker… then anxiety over what i’m going to make for dinner? husband is a picky eater, i have 2 children with food allergies/intolerances. the more children you have, the more laundry you have to do. the more children you have, the more dishes there are to do. and yet, if you let it go, when you finally get to it, it’s 3 times as bad! then you have playgroups… deciding who’s going to go without a nap that day? is it worth it? don’t take a break and get a sitter… when you come home, the place is a mess, the kids suckered the babysitter into giving them tea or soda or lollipops… “Mommy lets us have this.” and so it’s a late night waiting for them to come down from their sugar high. then when all the kids are finally in bed, the dishes from dinner are piled a mile high, there are 2 laundry baskets waiting to get folded, and there are toys all over the place, your hubby wants a little somein-somein for himself. it’s give give give. give with every fiber of your being. you wouldn’t have it any other way… but don’t EVER let anyone tell you their position in corporate America is harder than YOUR job as MOM! one great thing i’ve come away with 6 years into this job as mother, is confidence that i never had before. if i can handle this, i can handle anything. yes, i am superwoman.

July 16, 2010

This article is such a good reminder that I’m not alone in all the quagmire of parenting! Even among the moms I know it’s not something discussed quite as openly as this article makes it. And the sheer volume of studies and research gives much food for thought. Thanks for sharing the link – it seems to be the big fire on the web this week!
I added a link to your post at my blog today as well!

July 25, 2010

It hasn’t been worth it for me to have my one child. It’s almost destroyed my marriage, my career, and my body. I can’t even say that I love my child, but I feel the duty, responsibility and guilt stronger than any other feeling I’v ever had. Reading this article made me cry.

July 27, 2010

RISHA! i’m so sorry you feel that way! i hope you have someone you can talk to about this! being a mother IS very rewarding. in addition to be painfully difficult. i have 3 children, and my whole life COMPLETELY changed. but they are so beautiful and i love them unconditionally. even though there are days where i don’t want to get out of bed and “do it all over again”, i do it, then when i go to bed that night, i think how fullfilled i feel. another day i made my kids truly happy. another day i kept my children safe and healthy. another day I DID IT. no one but God helped me do it. you grew that baby, YOU nourished that baby, YOU take care of that baby’s EVERY need… and the fact that you have feelings of duties and responsibility and guilt to do it… that makes you a good mom. there are some women out there that have children, and don’t give a hoot about them! how sad! yes, children put a strain on marriages like NOTHING else. no one tells you when you have children, THEY become your career. it may not seem like it right now, Risha, but it most certainly IS WORTH IT. you are raising YOUR future, and the rest of the world’s future. that’s a HUGE responsibility. God has blessed you with the greatest gift. some days you’re gonna wish there was a number to call to return that gift… AND IT’s OK TO FEEL THAT WAY! that doesn’t make you a bad mother!!! keep pressing on! you were given this gift because YOU ARE STRONG ENOUGH! make that child proud! i wish you all the best, many blessings, much peace and love always!

August 5, 2010

I totally agree with one of the comments posted to the article about women being told that they “can have it all.” This is false. One of the best things I ever learned in my life coaching days is that you CAN have it all but maybe not all at once. You cannot have it all without having all the stress and ultimate dissatisfaction which is ultimately discussed here. I also agree there was a time with previous generations where not as much thought was given to what one really wanted or made one happy so you just went alone with what “was.” Now we can give thought to what we really want and not enough people do and/or don’t do it early enough. I realize “early” is coming from an expectation or ideal. if at anytime one is truly giving thought to what they really want and moves forward in making it happen that’s excellent. The rub is when this has happened after kids are in the mix or after one has chosen to marry a partner who doesn’t want them and in the end you decide you do. We are too impatient, too driven by what society says we “should” do which actually comes from the days of yore–has not really been updated to meet with the times. And, people don’t give consideration to what’s really involved with child-rearing.

So, I view this as having seasons of life so you may have your season of motherhood, your season as a career woman, your season as a single woman and so on. Some will overlap but you cannot have them all if you really want to enjoy life and you do have to make some tough choices. Personally if I were to have a child I know I would not want to work. I would probably do some sort of freelance or charity work etc. because I would need something for myself to feel accomplished with but I know myself and I would totally suffer on several levels if I had to work fulltime and be a mother. I know this, I have considered this. Many do not.

The challenge is certainly when you are “stuck” with a situation you cannot turn around. You must find a way to reconnect with who you are, what brings you joy (as an individual woman) when you find your own joy it WILL spill over into your job as a mother. The next step is to explore with how to find fun and joy in each day during the drudgery. It’s great to reflect at the end of the day–what was one really great thing today (about being a parent)? if you need a baby step to begin that process. Engage in sharing that question and dialog with your spouse and it can help that bond as well.

August 29, 2010

Thank you all for sharing your stories. I read the NY Magazine article a few weeks ago, but today was just one of those days…My husband has been working all weekend and I’ve been alone with my two boys ages 4 and 2. I love them more than anything but days like today make me question whether I’m cut out to be a mom. Sometimes I feel like they deserve something better: a mom with more patience who doesn’t get rattled at everything. It’s so overwhelming sometimes: full-time job, full-time mommy, trying to keep the house in order, activities with the boys, etc. Don’t even think about getting time to yourself. All I want sometimes is just to be able to sleep beyond 7:00 and have an hour to myself at some point during the day. But, of course, there never seem to be enough hours in the day. It’s a great feeling to be able to purge my feelings and know that others are going through the same thing and I’m not being judged as a bad or unfit mother. Any advice for de-stressing and being able to better cope would certainly be appreciated.

Mama Mia
September 18, 2010

My kids are now 7 and 10. Whew. We made it to these golden years. They can now help clear the dishes, load the dishwasher, set the table, put clothes away, tidy their room, read to themselves, practice their instruments without my help, and play for hours with friends in their rooms. They do all of this. It’s a wonderful era. I take them to the pool and just sit, read, and watch them play. I go to my son’s lacrosse practice and talk with my husband, sip coffee, and watch while my daughter hangs out with us. No more chasing toddlers, crying in the night, days with no breaks, endless chatter and noise, endless messes, endless days, fusses and tantrums, whew…just thinking back to those days makes me exhausted. I work M-Th from 8:30-2:30 as a physical therapist, workout after work for 45 min, then pick the kids up around 4:30 from after-school program and then it’s dinner, homework/reading, instruments, and off to bed for their quiet time. It’s tiring but manageable. I relax and usually clean the house on Fridays and our weekends are generally relaxing. These are the golden years for our family. It’s very very nice. I have a great life and feel like I’m one of the lucky ones that has it all right now!

One thing I am going to encourage my daughter to do is to find a career that she can do part time or full time like I did. I feel so fortunate that I am able to strike that balance with my flexible work schedule and this adds greatly to my overall quality of life and happiness. I have time to work, workout, relax, and spend time with my kids. What more could I want?

Also, hang in there if you have younger kids right now. It does get so much easier!

A rabbit called Harriet
December 23, 2011

I just wanted to say something about paid maternity leave; I disagree with that. America just can’t afford to indulge all the women who decide and make the choice to have a child. Think of all the taxpayers and what that would cost them. It’s just not fair. And to address someone saying Canadian women have one year’s paid maternity leave: they have to contribute into that to get the time off. They can take a year off if they contributed enough to their Employment Insurance aka EI. When you have a job it counts toward your EI and should you become unemployed (be it by pregnancy, illness, caring for a relative, being laid off etc) you can use the money you have accumulated in your EI. It’s not just handed to us.

January 25, 2012

I Agree with that because I am a young and single mother to my kids at the same time a student., i admit that it’s really hard to take good care a babies especially if you are single mom., in my part it’s really hard., but for me, I consider them as a great blessings because GOD gave them to me., so I will treasure them, take good care and loved them.,, I’m still 22 and I have 2 kids already., but i have no tints of regrets being a young mother to my 2 sons because seeing them happy and in high spirits every single day makes me more a woman and a mother…,

Ray J
February 4, 2012

For all those fence sitters out there not sure if they want or should have kids. DON’T DO IT. There is a propaganda machine out there that tells you you are not fulfilled unless you have kids, that you’ll never know joy; unconditional love etc. That is all pants. What you’ll really get to grips with is unbridled frustration, frequent hate, depression and frequent thoughts of suicide / the life you once had. Frankly, we may be spoiled, but we are what we are. Our 30s something generation is not wired for child raising. Forget the guilt, let other people have kids, that’s what they are there for. You are there to live YOUR life. And don’t let anyone called you selfish, you are merely honest.

May 7, 2012

I am absolutely thrilled not to have children. I will never have them and my life is fantastic. I’m not childless, I’m childfree. There’s a big difference in that and it’s something that so many people just don’t seem to want to come to grips with.

July 21, 2013

wish i was you melanie

July 21, 2013

Having children has destroyed my life.
I Love my kids but divorce iS always right there on the wall.

I never wanted to have kids but my wife pressured me and I buckled; the worst decision of my life-

My wife is now invisible now and we have maybe 15 minutes a day together–where we end up fighting about raising the kids-

If you are reading this, do not destroy your life and marriage by having kids–If your wife gives you an ultimatum as mine did—send her packing

Children destroy marriage and steal any and all intimate time you and your wife once had–

Well, I can ramble on and on and on

oh yeas, sex pretty much disappears too

I am too tired–you are too tired–BULLSHIT


February 16, 2015

This article is really spot on with much of my experience, and I even live in one of the ‘easy’ places, i.e. Denmark. Its just damn hard. I have a 3.5 year old and an 8 month old and there are many good moments, but the frustration is just always lurking beneath the surface. I think a BIG difference between our generation and our parents was the existence of community (whether family or neighbors) support. We have a lot of family around, but when I had to have TWO surgeries after my daughter was born it was very very very very very hard to get any help. My husband had to care for the toddler and I was alone in the hospital after two surgeries with a newborn. A friend stayed with me one night (which was hard cause she has 2 small kids too!). We are moving to the countryside soon and I really really really hope we can develop relationships with people in our new community where we can help each other. Otherwise it feels like a long lonely struggle where you are in a dark room, looking frantically for the light switch – that the toddler keeps moving!

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