Invitations to attend a child's birthday party or, worse, a singalong session were met with the same refrain: 'I would love to but I just can't spare the time.' The nanny was dispatched in my place, and almost always returned complaining that my son had been singled out for pitiful stares by the other mothers. I confess that I was probably ogling the merchandise at Harvey Nichols or having my highlights done instead. Of course I love my children as much as any mother, but the truth is I found such events so boring that I made up any excuse. I can't say which activity I dreaded more: playing Pass The Parcel at parties with a child who permanently crawled away from the action towards the priceless knick-knacks, or listening to the other mothers go on about such excitements as teething and potty-training. Mind-numbing! To be honest, 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 journalistic assignment I could imagine. Kids are supposed to be fulfilling, life-changing, life-enhancing fun: why was my attitude towards them so different? While all my girlfriends were dropping important careers and occupying their afternoons with cake baking, 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.Well, Helen, I'll tell what other mother hates reading bedtime stories: my wife. She hates it in the same way I hate helping my children learn a sport (throw the ball, Max swings and misses, I pick up the ball, throw it again, he misses . . . put a fork in my heart, please). But it comes with the territory. Any sane person realizes that it's gosh-awfully tedious to read Green Eggs and Ham for the twentieth time, but you do it. You do it for the sake of the kid. Kirwan-Taylor (the hyphenation is no coincidence, incidentally) juxtaposes her attitude with the mothers who just love the kid stuff. Alright, I find those mothers nauseating, too, and I suspect if they had more children (rather than stopping at 2.3), they'd come to realize that all those kid activities are mind-numbingly boring. But here's the thing: maybe those mothers come to enjoy the activities because the kids enjoy them so much. It's an indirect form of satisfaction, one that's not centered solely on the mother. It's also a form of satisfaction that grows, knowing that you're doing something better with your life than trying to earn the extra dollar you don't need. It's kind of like exercise: sure, it's a hassle, but once you get into it, you enjoy it.