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Can you "love your children but hate your life"?

Posted by Vincent DiCaro

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Aug 10, 2010
By now, many of you have probably heard about a controversial cover story from New York magazine in which the writer, Jennifer Senior, asserts that she "loves her children but hates her life."

I do not want to go over all of the same ground that everyone else has gone over on this story. I simply want to question the very logic of this statement. Because frankly, I don't think it is possible.

In order for you to love your children and hate your life, you have to define your life as something that does not include children.

If you were to draw a circle that represented your life, and inside that circle draw dots that represent the different parts of your life -- career, hobbies, interests, social life, etc -- you would, in order for Senior's statement to be possible, have to draw the dots that represent your children somewhere outside of that circle.

But does that really make sense? Can we possibly define "life" as something that does not include relationships? If anything, relationships are life. We are social beings - our interactions with others are the very stuff that life is made of. So, if you love your kids - your relationships - is it logically possible to hate your life?

Maybe this analogy will clarify what I mean. If you were lying on the beach enjoying the sun and suddenly a large umbrella was hoisted in front of you, blocking out the sun and casting a shadow on you, would you, in your hatred of the shadow, start scratching at the sand to get rid of it? No. You would rightly “blame” the source of the shadow and move the umbrella. In other words, you can’t separate the shadow from the object that creates it.

In the case of a life that has been “cast into shadow” by children, can you ignore the fact that the children are causing the shadow, thus the sorrow? In other words, if your children are the cause of your "hating your life," can you really love them?

This leaves us with two disturbing possibilities. Either Senior has defined life as something that does not include her children, or, more problematic, she does not actually love her children, but can't bring herself to admit it.

I will not even try to guess at what the answer is, but as a father, I can't imagine telling someone that I hate my life, given that my son is such a central, irreplaceable part of it. That, to me, would be a hurtful -- perhaps hateful -- statement for my son to ever hear. How could I expect him to feel if he knew that after his birth, his father began to hate his life? Could he really brush that off and say, "No big deal. At least he loves me"?

I just ain't buyin' it. Are you?

Topics: New York magazine

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