Like many, I recently read the article in the Daily Mail where the author stated that she regretted ever having children.
When I saw the headline, I was prepared to be angered and to read of a selfish, narcissistic woman. What I found, however, was different. Instead of a woman who hated motherhood and children and so neglected the children, I found a woman who loved them but resented the loss of freedom and time. While not demonstrative in her affection, she nevertheless ensured they knew they were loved and was a hands-on mother. In fact, she is personally caring for her disabled adult daughter without complaint.
What I noticed, though, was the contradiction between what society says is important and what parenting requires. Se said she regretted and resented the loss of her freedom – the freedom to spontaneously go on holiday, to curl up with a book at will or have alone-time with her husband.
Feeling that way is hardly surprising, and I’m sure we all have our moments like that. After all, society generally tells us we can, and should, have these things and that children get in the way. I well remember chatting with fellow graduate students at a welcome reception when I was heavily pregnant with Kieran and having a colleague tell me he’d never have children because then he couldn’t do what he wanted.
I admit I was shocked by the statement. I’d simply taken it for granted that life would change and would cease to be about me. Oh, I’m not perfect, and there are times when resentment can creep in: days when I’ve not had 10 minutes to myself, for example. Thankfully, he resentment doesn’t last. I know this time of extreme neediness isn’t forever. Dying to myself isn’t easy, though, especially when society says I shouldn’t have to do so.
So really, what I see isn’t a woman who truly hates being a mother, but the contradiction that arises when our cultural expectations meet the natural demands of parenting. Even though the author said she wished she hadn’t had children, I think her love for her children says otherwise.