I read an article on the Daily Mail UK by a woman who said that the biggest regret of her life was having her children. She was very honest and forthright about the fact that she disliked the children taking up her alone time and that she never felt any bond with them as they were growing up. Quite paradoxically, she devoted her life to them. Her feeling was that if she had children she was going to raise them and not have nannies or other caretakers do the job for her. Having decided to have them, she was going to be the best mother she could be.
Not that she was demonstrative, but they were well cared for and wanted for nothing. She always knew that she didn’t want children, but her husband did and she decided that it would be selfish to deny him of that opportunity. They worked out a life that worked for them and her children grew up to be productive and loving adults. Somewhat ironically, her daughter was struck by MS in her 20’s and has had to return back home where her mother must tend her every day. But, as she states, she would take on that tragedy from her daughter if she could. Because she is her mother and that is her job.
The comments under the article are as rude and horrible as you would think. Some call the woman selfish, self-centered, horrible, awful.
But I don’t see it that way.
This was a woman who seriously thought about what she was doing before she did it. She knew that she would not bond with the children the way that other mothers would. Was she a demonstrative mother? Absolutely not. But she was nothing more than fully attentive and giving to her children.
“I cannot understand mothers who insist they want children, then race back to work at the earliest opportunity after giving birth, leaving the vital job of caring for them to strangers. Why have them at all if you don’t want to bring them up, or can’t afford to? And why pretend you wanted them if you have no intention of raising them? This hypocrisy is, in my view, far more pernicious and difficult to fathom than my own admission that my life would have been better without children.”
I have to admit, I was one of those mothers. Or would have been if the opportunity had been afforded to me. When my oldest was 2, and my youngest was just born, we lived in a foreign country where I couldn’t get a job due to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). If I could have, I would have run off to have a job and left my children with strangers to raise them.
Why? Because I was miserable. I was not hardwired to have small children around. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children. I do. I get more enjoyment out of them now that they are grown a bit. But when they were little, I was absolutely miserable. I missed my alone time, I missed my time with my own thoughts. I missed having a name, instead being known as “A’s mom” or “J’s mom.”
Even now, while I love to coo over babies, I love, even more, to hand them back to their mothers when I leave. I appreciate that I am not the one that has to give that amount of time to them that they require. I appreciate my independence, what little I have, now that my children are older.
I wouldn’t say that they are the biggest regret of my life, because THEY ARE NOT. I love my children and I am proud of them each and every day.
I guess I am saying that I understand, partially, where this woman is coming from. And I appreciate her honesty, with herself, her husband, her children and the world. I also appreciate her single-minded objective of raising her children, giving herself to them fully when they needed her. I appreciate that her and her husband worked out a way of life that worked for them, with the husband being fully attentive to the children when he was around instead of it all falling to her.
I’ll admit, and always have, that I cannot wait for my children to grow up. When my youngest started school full-time, I remember standing there with the other parents, dutifully waiting for school to start. Giving my son kisses and hugs and telling him that he was going to have a great time. I meant every kiss and every hug, from the bottom of my heart. I wanted him to succeed in school. As he turned the corner with his class and walked out of sight, I actually let out a whoop of joy. All of the other parents were crying and upset that their babies were growing up. For me, it was a sign that there was light at the end of the tunnel. That I would, eventually, have my life back.
Does it make me a horrible person to say these things? Maybe. I have enjoyed every milestone that my children have reached. I have fought hard for my oldest and I have worked hard with my youngest, to make sure that they have every opportunity that can be afforded to them. I love them and hug them and give them kisses and support. Because I do love them. I do support them.
But I don’t think that I could characterize my parenthood as a labor of love. More a labor of responsibility. I have said many times, and will say it many times again: I chose to bring these children into the world and I have a responsibility to mold them into productive members of society. I have a responsibility to make sure that they are polite and well socialized. This is my responsibility.
My heart bursts with pride when someone tells me that my children are polite and very sweet. It means that I have done a good job. My children say “please,” and “thank you.” They call ladies, “ma’am,” and men, “sir.” They do well in school. They have friends. They can read and write and do ‘rithmetic.
But I am counting down the days until my youngest graduates. I want to go live my life while I am still young. I will always be there for them. I will love any grandchildren that they bring me. But I won’t ache for it. I won’t itch for it. I won’t be that mother that continually asks them when they are going to have a child. I won’t be that grandmother that hopes she can babysit all the time. I just won’t.
To be honest, I don’t think there is anything wrong with anything I have said here. Will it sit well with everyone that reads it. Absolutely not. Will there be some that will think I’m a horrible person? Yup. Will there be some that think that I’m selfish. Oh, hell, yes.
But I don’t see it that way. I don’t see myself as selfish. I see myself as someone that has two children, whom I love, that has sacrificed and given, and continues to give, to make sure that they have a top notch education and want for absolutely nothing. Are my children spoiled? Mildly. But they also understand the word, “no,” and that mom uses it liberally.
I do love my children. I don’t regret my children. They have enriched my life in ways that it could not have been enriched without them. Do I want them to grow up and am I looking forward to that day? Absolutely.
But I can understand where the author of the article is coming from. I can sympathize, and even empathize, with her. I don’t think she is a bad mother. I don’t think she is a bad person.
Any more than I think those things about myself.
Any more than my children think those things about me.
Am I good mother? I think so. Whether or not you agree with me actually doesn’t matter. Time will tell how good of a mother I was. I think it already does.
I think I have two terrific kids who light up my life. But…..I still can’t wait for them to grow up! 🙂