Society projects this ideal of motherhood across cultures, countries, and continents, putting a premium on why mothering is essential, listing stuff moms shouldn’t do, including smoking, having casual sex, and working instead of taking maternity leave. Once you become a mom, there’s a lot of policing from everyone about what you should or shouldn’t do, and you’re automatically branded a bad mom if you don’t do what society expects. The biggest taboo, however, is when a mom admits that she regrets being one at all. There is an insane amount of pressure on moms to give everything amazing at the time. Motherhood equals perfection. And yet, we can’t open up about what it’s like to live with that pressure and sacrifice. And when moms complain, they do it in quite a socially acceptable way through memes saying “the struggle is real” or about how much booze we need to get through this. We make jokes, but it doesn’t feel very funny.
Motherhood feels like bits of you, like the fun bits, are drying from a lack of attention. And even when they do open up, moms get criticized for being selfish and are even asked why they chose to become moms in the first place. And if you’ve ever had that thought and brushed it off immediately thinking that you’re a bad mom, then you’re not alone. A lot of moms regret motherhood. They’re not bad moms. But some days, they just wonder what if? Read on for stories on moms that regret motherhood.
Do Moms Really Regret Motherhood?
The Guardian says motherhood may bring personal fulfillment, love, pleasure, contentment, pride, and joy. Still, it may also be a realm of helplessness, distress, frustration, disappointment, hostility, as well as an arena of subordination and oppression. Moms do regret motherhood, but they’re unable to voice their opinions because they will be criticized heavily. It doesn’t seem to matter that moms who regret the experience almost always stress that they love their kids. The ideological urge to be a mom can be found across all walks of society, and it’s founded on the solid conception that complete female happiness can only be gotten through motherhood. And the people that seek to challenge this narrative are met with overwhelming opposition, making an open, honest debate hard.
Women receive unrealistic promises about the joys of raising kids from society, which simultaneously delegitimizes women who remain childless, calling them “unfeminine, egoistic, pitiful, and somewhat defective. But can’t moms regret motherhood and still love their kids. What’s wrong with that? There are multiple threads on the internet with women mourning the loss of their old lives and battling their daily, current reality of motherhood. So, if you thought mothers don’t regret parenting, think again. According to a Canadian study, up to 43% of Canadian parents have at some point wished they’d decided not to have kids. MacLean’s clears the air by saying that it’s motherhood these moms regret, not the kids.
Moms Get Candid
It all started with an Israeli sociologist, Orna Donath, who decided not to have kids and was tired of being viewed as an aberration in a nation where women have, on average, three kids. In 2015, she published a study based on interviews with 23 Israeli moms who regretted having had children. It sparked debate with women worldwide opening up.
Lola Augustine opens up on Today’s Parent, saying that while she knows she’s a kick-ass mom and not a monster, she struggles with the fact that her kids’ amazing life comes at the expense of her own. She worries that far too often, there’s nothing left for her.
“It’s a 45-minute drive to town for all the lessons they take, and managing the minutiae of their lives is all-consuming. By the time I get them into bed, I’m exhausted, but then there’s laundry to do and lunches to pack. I’ll maybe watch half an hour of TV before stumbling into bed, only to be woken at 4 a.m. by the baby—and the slog starts all over again.”
She goes on to say that she gets utterly depleted, which leaves her feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. She finds herself crying later at night in the bathtub or when she’s outside walking her dogs, which is the only time she has for herself in her life, one she wanted so badly but now finds herself trapped in.
And she’s not the only mom that feels this way. Amy, at first glance, is like every other busy young mom. She’s a 34-year-old with a 5-year-old son. However, she works full-time and is committed to her child. She tells MacLean’s, “My life revolves around this child. Four nights a week from May to June are spent at a sports field. All his schoolmates do it, so if he doesn’t, he’s left out.”
The mom says that if she had to do it all over again, she wouldn’t. She admits that she never wanted kids. It was her husband, and this would have been a deal-breaker. Unfortunately, parenthood put a strain on the marriage; the husband wasn’t as involved as she’d have preferred, and they ended up separating. She further admits, “Life is difficult. Our child has two homes, and I’m still doing 90 percent of it on my own.”
Sue’s story is the same. She is a visual artist who admits that motherhood thoroughly vacuumed creativity right out of her. She says, “It’s like there’s a gut instinct in kids. Mom is about to focus her attention, energy, and heart somewhere else—time for me to throw a fit, throw up, pee my bed, or discover a wrinkle in my sheet that is making it impossible to sleep. Never mind the fact that even if you ever manage to carve out time to write, paint or sew when they are sleeping, you are downright exhausted or then have to fill in-school field trip forms, make lunches and fold laundry.”
A lot of moms regret motherhood. Some even admit that they’re jealous of their childless friends. But it’s not necessarily regret. It’s like a more profound realization that there are just so many hours in a day for them to take care of themselves and their kids. And all too often, they’re the ones that fall off the to-do list. Still, not all moms regret otherhood. But the point of this is to let moms love motherhood as a subjective experience. One that can include love and regret, one that society will embrace, no matter how it looks.
One thing most moms will always admit to is that they don’t regret having their kids, but sometimes they do regret their relationship…
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