Response to ‘The Biological Clock’

Niamh Devlin tells us motherhood rocks, in response to the article The Biological Clock.

, 16 March 2002

I’m almost 40. I have a four-year-old daughter, a mother in her late fifties,

and a grandmother in her mid eighties. Over the past Christmas holidays I

brought my daughter to visit my grandmother. My daughter can be infuriatingly

stubborn, and my parenting style often confounds my grandmother. (I don’t,

for example, and to my grandmother’s great distress, force my daughter to

remain at the table until her plate is empty) The combination of those two

things over our holiday visit proved to be volatile.

My grandmother on more than one occasion tried to guide my daughter’s crayon

while she drew pictures. My daughter responded by shaking off the art

direction, and pushing my grandmother’s hand away. In spite of the fact that

my daughter was not even four at the time, and my grandmother was plenty old

enough to know better, she strode off, muttering and shutting herself in her

room. I later got a largely ignored lecture about how I have spoiled my

daughter, and how I should let her food go cold and force her to revisit it

at every subsequent meal until it is sufficiently gone, how I should slap her

for crying loudly and long over small matters so that she “has something to

cry about,” and how I should teach her more respect for her elders.

To be fair to my grandmother, I should say that I was probably unrealistic to

accept the offer of her hospitality at her age. We should have stayed at a

hotel. And while I tried to shrug off my grandmother’s words, I must admit

that some of them made an impression. My daughter can be less than

affectionate sometimes. Sometimes I want to hold her or sing to her or rock

her and comfort her and she’ll have none of it. And that hurts my feelings. I

spoke to my mother, who is also a professional teacher, about it, and she

gave me this advice:

Parenting is like teaching. It is completely one way. You give. They take.

That’s the way it works. If you get anything back, consider it a bonus.

Children are not there to comfort parents, or make them feel good about

themselves, or to improve their parents lives. That is not their job.

And you know what? I think she’s right. How could I have forgotten?

When I read your article on parenting in The F-Word, I must say it brought

those words of my mother’s to mind. There’s nothing at all wrong with the

feelings you express. I shared them myself. That’s why I waited so long to

have my child. I don’t know how old you are now, but when you get older, you

might feel different than you do now about the subject of motherhood. I

discovered as I got a little bit older that I worried less about how it was

going to impact my life, and more about what, if anything, I could bring to

my child’s life. There’s nothing wrong with your article, but reading it made

the word “young” in your magazine description take on emphasis for me. Your

concerns sound to me like young ones. They are the exact same ones I had

through my twenties and most of my thirties.

I’m writing now, not because of any of this motherhood stuff, (I wouldn’t

presume) but for the additional reason that I noticed you, too, are

interested in the effect the word “young” in your magazine description may or

may not have on your readership. One of your readers indicated in some

feedback that she hadn’t noticed the word “young” until she came upon your

“discrimination” debate. Like most people, I suppose, I consider myself

young, too. And for me, I hadn’t really noticed your use of the word until I

read your article on motherhood.

Anyway, I wanted to add that feedback to your discussion on the topic of



Niamh Devlin

Los Angeles

P.S.: motherhood rocks!

Niamh lives in Los Angeles. Her website is at

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