April 3, 2018

"If I could turn the clock back I would not have had children... There were times where I didn't feel mature enough to be responsible for somebody..."

"It just felt like an endless round of putting a bottle or food in their mouth for it to come out of the other end - and at what point was any of this going to be fun? I just felt like screaming that actually it's not all it's cracked up to be. If you're really maternal then that's great you've got everything you've wanted, but when you're not maternal all you've done is trap yourself.... But I feel guilty for saying that, because I love my children dearly... You feel like you've not been a good mum and it's a guilt you always carry, it never goes away and you wonder if they know. But life shouldn't be about giving up your life, your freedom, so they can have a life."

From "The mothers who regret having children" (BBC).

56 comments:

Sebastian said...

Prog women should care enough about the planet not to have children at all.

Bay Area Guy said...

Mother's Day breakfast must be a joy to spend with these crazy women........

David said...

I'm much more interested in what their kids think.

Fernandistien said...

A guy made a place for his dog to have puppies and when he went to check on them he found that it also housed a cat and her kittens.

Patrick Henry was right! said...

Since my daughter's cancer diagnosis, treatment and death, all I can think about is wishing I could have more time with her. Any amount of time.

These people are evil.

Love your children, folks. You may not have them for long.

gerry said...

But life shouldn't be about giving up your life, your freedom, so they can have a life.

Pathetic. Bye-bye Britain!

The Vault Dweller said...

I know these women describe their feelings as wishing they didn't have children, but I wonder if it is more having children and raising them didn't give their lives a sense of purpose and meaning that they thought they would get from it. Some of them talk about wishing they had worked more on their career instead. I doubt that is tied to gathering more material wealth, but again searching for purpose. It would be interesting to see if any of these women are religious. Something tells me that for large portion of people who feel purposeless in life, it is probably linked to the overall decline in religiosity in society.

While it is a good idea to get stories like this out there so women who have similar feelings can know that there are others out there that share those feelings, and so younger women understand that merely having children is no guarantee that suddenly your life will hold meaning, I suspect that the underlying target of this article is younger women for a different reason. It is probably targeted to women in their mid 30's who have started to realize they will never get married and have kids of their own and feel regret at that idea. This article can help assuage that regret by pointing out that women who went the other way feel regret too. While I understand that experiences of misery can make it feel more tolerable, that won't magically imbue purpose into those young women's lives either.

EDH said...

They Might Be Giants said it best...

Notice John Linnell smile as he sings these lyrics on Letterman, probably knowing his mother is probably watching at home.

Someday mother will die and I'll get the money
Mom leans down and says, "My sentiments exactly, You son of a bitch"

I palindrome I (I palindrome I)
I palindrome I (I palindrome I)

And I am a snake head eating (snake head)
The head on the opposite side (snake head)

I palindrome I (manonam)
I palindrome I (manonam)

Ann Althouse said...

@Patrick Henry I'm very sorry to hear about your daughter.

JML said...

PatricK Henry Thoughts and prayers and you are so right on all counts.

gilbar said...

they make a good point, what with all the time wasted feeding and cleaning their children; But, they're missing the big picture.
Look at all the time they've wasted feeding and cleaning themselves!

It's not their children's lives that are dragging them down; it's Theirs!
If they'd just stop being alive, they'd have Nothing but Free Time!

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Patrick Henry ~ I'm so sorry for your terrible loss, and I pray for peace and solace for you and your family.

CJinPA said...

Interesting to see the (perceived) rise in the number of Don't Have Children dispatches. Especially at a time when the argument for mass immigration is that the West is running out of native humans.

Though I can agree that having children without having parental instinct must be a cheerless existence.

God bless you, Patrick Henry was right.

Larry J said...

David said...

I'm much more interested in what their kids think.


Indeed. It must suck terribly to know that your mother wishes you hadn't been born.

chickelit said...

@Patrick Henry: You put things in the proper perspective better than any other comment. Thank you for sharing that.

Lewis Wetzel said...

It is actually possible to give an unwanted child up for adoption. Selfish not to, if a mother is worried about people will think if she gives it up. Sometimes when feminists talk about abortion they seem to be saying that the only choice is to abort the child or raise it to maturity.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

She has three children - her youngest is 17 - and for most of this time she has been a single mother, which is when the reality hit her.

"There were times where I didn't feel mature enough to be responsible for somebody, this little person that needed me for their existence," she says.


I wonder if they'd get the same results if they talked to women who waited until they were married and financially stable. Single parenthood isn't the end of the universe ~ I'm not saying we go back to Irish convent laundries or anything ~ but it's also really really hard.

William said...

The woman had three children. Plus she's a single mother. Her problem isn't lack of maternal feelings but rather lack of common sense.....Perhaps if she had another two or three kids she could get the hang of it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

But life shouldn't be about giving up your life, your freedom, so they can have a life."

While that is a bit melo-dramatic and "woe is me"....life IS about giving life to the next generation. Otherwise there will not BE a next generation.

Yes. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices. Actually, always you have to make sacrifices. Especially when you have small (under the age of 2 or 3) children. You are working in a zombie-like state. Barely able to know what time or day it is. Robiticaly taking care of needy unformed humans.

The problem these women have is that no one prepared them for this daunting task, and with the decline of family as an institution, they are trying to do too much, be too perfect and doing it all by themselves. Even Chimpanzees have team parenting.

Otto said...

"I could have been a contender"

Hunter said...

I married a woman who never wanted, and still never wants, to have children. I didn't want to have them either. Now I wonder sometimes. I understand better now than when I was young what it means to have children.

My stepfather never wanted kids, but then he married my mom who had two. Now he's a grandfather. Maybe it's just a thing that requires growing up, or being forced to grow up by having no choice because you made them and here they are. This is part of the evil of abortion, I think. You don't have to deal with the responsibility if you don't want to. You don't have to grow up if you don't want to. You're free to float along, with a minimum of responsibilities or hard choices. That seems appealing but is probably the road to hell.

But I don't think that one has to have children to find that growth and meaning. You just have to take all the free time and resources you are not spending on children and find some other worthwhile use for them. The problem is it's far more tempting to fritter them away on yourself, on things that are fun and pleasing in the moment but will ultimately leave you hollow.

Michael K said...

Patrick Henry, you are right and I am happy I have not had to deal with anything like that.

Indeed. It must suck terribly to know that your mother wishes you hadn't been born.

Chelsea Clinton had an excellent point when she complained that her grandmother did not have access to abortion. A lot of us sympathize with her.

Greg Cochran's blog as had some discussion about the decline in IQ in western societies.

mockturtle said...

"But life shouldn't be about giving up your life, your freedom, so they can have a life."

Well, yes, it should. That's how our species is maintained. There is time at the other end of motherhood to enjoy freedom as well as grown children and grandchildren to love and enjoy. There are some who just shouldn't become mothers, of course.

mockturtle said...

Patrick Henry: It hurts my heart to hear of your loss. Nothing could be more tragic than losing a child. God bless you.

Caligula said...

Well, at least "I wish you'd never been born" mommys don't get blamed for autism in their children anymore (as they did when Bruno Bettelheim was the authority on autism, and found its etiology was due to "refrigerator mothers.")

And here- From "Disability Studies Quarterly"- is the contemporary view (?):

Abstract
Child psychologist and Nazi concentration camp survivor Bruno Bettelheim's influential theories of autism reveal a startling connection between Jewish identity, the medicalization of disability, colonial eugenics and race-making practices over the 20th century in North America. Using Bettelheim's life and work as a case-study, this paper explores Ashkenazi Jewish immigrant complicity in a whitened colonial landscape through the lens of Disability Studies. It asks the question: can we be more accountable to our disabled identities -- and to those disabled people who have come before us -- if we learn how our families, our identities, our very selves have been complicit in medicalization and violence?

(Bettelheim may have been a quack, but, was he really worse than this?)

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

It asks the question: can we be more accountable to our disabled identities -- and to those disabled people who have come before us -- if we learn how our families, our identities, our very selves have been complicit in medicalization and violence?

I don't ever, ever want to hear what anyone even remotely connected to the SJW camp talk about disability when they openly cheer the extermination of people with Down syndrome via abortion.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

(sorry for mangled syntax; was mad when typing)

iowan2 said...

I didn't want kids...when married at 23. I was immature and selfish (same thing?) My wife worked on me, and because I love her, and did see kids in my future, we started a family sooner than I wanted. I was going to lose me time. Weekend blow out parties, spur of the moment motorcycle rides to no where, travel, basically me, me, me, me, me....
And rearing children is not a burden, its an avocation. Something that you do because of the happiness it brings you (see? still about me!) But if it is sometime a workaday grind, it is small inconvenience for the reward of grandchildren!

Not everyone can get into the proper attitude, and 'have children', failing to rear them. Those people should remain childless.

Howard said...

That's just sad. Having kids and grandkids has been the biggest source of joy and fulfillment for me and the old lady. Funny thing is my wife's family figured my bride was the least likely to be maternal and it turns out just the opposite in the long run. It was her sense of duty and responsibility that she reinvented herself to be uber maternal.

PackerBronco said...

"But life shouldn't be about giving up your life, your freedom, so they can have a life."

You can either choose a heroic life or a selfish life. I choose a heroic life with 6 children, 5-and-counting grandchildren. One is a special needs child. I have no regrets because this is a life of meaning.

The Cracker Emcee Classic said...

"But life shouldn't be about giving up your life, your freedom, so they can have a life."

What, exactly, is the purpose of your life?

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I have a "childfree" friend whose routine is work (dead-end job to pay the bills, not curing cancer), home to smoke pot with husband, TV, vegan dinner, more TV, bed. Sometimes a concert or the farmer's market on the weekends. Once every couple of years a trip to a country they haven't been to. Repeat until death occurs. It seems an awful lot like shoving food in one end and waiting for it to come out the other end to me.

Howard said...

"But life shouldn't be about giving up your life, your freedom, so they can have a life."

This is ignorant and stupid. Freedom is an illusion but the love of a child is the most real thing I've ever experienced in this world.

Ann Althouse said...

One way to be free is to have absolutely no loved ones. It's a high price to pay for freedom, but as they say, freedom is not free.

gilbar said...

freedom's just another word, for no one left to lose?

Howard said...

All mythology from all over the world describes in every possible way how and why freedom does not exist in this universe. I don't think people are consciously aware what slaves we are to gravity. Try holding your breath to test your freedom.

Meade said...

"freedom is not free"

Also: having kids is like a box of chocolates and you never know—one day you might be haplessly munching along on one more yummy organic fair-trade chocolate when all of the sudden you realize, hey, no wonder I'm bipolar, constipated and my face keeps breaking out—I'm allergic to this crap!

Crazy Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crazy Jane said...

I had a wonderful gynecologist who told me this: "When I got married, I didn't think I wanted to have children, but my wife did. She finally talked me into it, and our first baby was born when we were 31. Now I wish we'd started sooner so we could have had five or six children instead of just the four."

John Lynch said...

The fact that this article was published is far more interesting than the article itself.

Patrick Henry was right! said...

Professor and commenters, thank you for the kind words.

Hope this was not too much sharing, but parents who say they did not (or do not) want their children make my heart hurt.

Thank you for this blog. It provides a few minutes of intellect in a world driven mad by emotionalism.

Bay Area Guy said...

The article conflates the real struggles of single motherhood with the real joys of having kids in a stable marriage.

Rick said...

But life shouldn't be about giving up your life, your freedom, so they can have a life.

If caring for children is giving up your freedom and therefore too much to expect who do you propose give up their freedom to take care of your kids?

If you think taking care of children is too much to ask don't have any.

Think said...

When people say religion is harmless or a net good, whether it is true or not, they are not dealing with reality. I don't know about this particular mom, but in many religions, women are taught that a god wants them to be mothers above all else. It is their life's purpose. But not every women will make a great mom. No every women should be a mom. The world would be a better place if women made a conscious decision to have children, instead of being guilted into it. Children would have moms who want to be moms and women who aren't cut out for it could live happier, more fulfilling lives.

Luke Lea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke Lea said...

Isn't this what planned parenthood is all about? Not having children until you are ready for them, which nowadays usually means financially? Otherwise you can get trapped in a hard scrabble life. I know I waited until it was almost too late, but when I had one it began the happiest period of my life.

Jim S. said...

Well, that's still not as bad as the philosopher David Benatar writing a book about how he wished he'd never been born. And that coming into existence is a grievous harm that no one should have to experience. And he dedicated the book to his parents.

Kevin said...

But life shouldn't be about giving up your life, your freedom, so they can have a life.

Right. Life should be about your parents taking care of you, then your husband taking care of you, then the nursing home taking care of you, while you do whatever you wish.

I seem to remember "No limitation, no story. No story, no Being," from a day or so ago.

Kevin said...

Well, that's still not as bad as the philosopher David Benatar writing a book about how he wished he'd never been born.

An error easily rectified, if the writer were to be believed.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

our first baby was born when we were 31. Now I wish we'd started sooner so we could have had five or six children instead of just the four."

PLUS....if you had started having your family when you were 21 instead of 31....you would be child free in your mid 40's! Instead of having your children just entering those horrible teenage years.

Your children would be grown up adults and living lives of their own and you will have your life back when you are still young enough to enjoy an adult life: travel, have sexy times with your spouse anytime you want. Financially more stable and better able to enjoy an active retirement. Young enough to be active grandparents to your children's children. Young grandparents instead of doddering old crippled up hulks.

When you start your family late...you are just going to be old people with children and WORSE!!! Teenagers hanging around your house well into your 50's and even 60's.

Have your children while you are young so you can enjoy your life when you yourself are all grown up.

Freedom from child rearing when you are adult enough to actually understand and enjoy life.

Just my personal view....based on my experience and the example of my parents who were gallivanting all over the world in their late 40's.

mockturtle said...

PLUS....if you had started having your family when you were 21 instead of 31....you would be child free in your mid 40's! Instead of having your children just entering those horrible teenage years.

Yep!

D said...

What J Lynch said is spot on. It is the increasing prevalence of these stories that is the story. It made the cover of a recent newsmag I saw, waiting in the drugstore. Without getting conspiratorial, ya gotta wonder why it seems so au courant.

For those who always aspire to create Year Zero, honestly, I suppose there isnt much left out there to tear down, and get a reaction. Might as well take out motherhood before trying to eliminate apple pie. Whose gonna defend pie? (Beside me)

I think the answer is indifference. Someone needs to tell them that no one cares about their story, just like nobody cares if you dislike apple pie. Maybe you can equate the indifference to the feelings she has towards children she brought into this world, who she could have given up for adoption before they got in the way of her living her life. That sort of indifference.

And if I choose to celebrate the arrival of a little one - not just my own, but a friend's, or a family member, or some stranger named Ms Pants on the ol interwebs, dont think that is a guilt trip that I should feel bad for.

C'mon. It's not all about you

RigelDog said...

The whole article is so random. No effort made to analyze what was really going on in these women's lives that leads them to say something along the lines that they regret motherhood. The thing is, they all say that they love their children deeply (and I think they do) so I don't think most of these women actually regret being a parent. They regret the compromises that had to be made, they regret the opportunities that disappeared. I kept getting the impression that with a more realistic idea of what parenting involves, and better support systems, they would not say they regret the choice to have kids. For instance, they kept waiting to have "fun" with the kids and to enjoy the compalny of children. Wish someone would have told them that you don't have to enjoy kids per se in order to have parenting be a good choice. As I told a young friend who says she doesnt' want kids herself because she doesn't particularly enjoy their company---you don't have kids because you prefer hanging around with kids. You have kids because that's how you make your new family for the rest of your life.

Unknown said...

RigelDog: I never had any interest in kids (though I did want to have them) and certainly never thought about playing with kids, yet when my kids came along it was the most fun I ever had. Taking them to the park, playing peekaboo, teaching them to talk, reading to them. All of it.
I think the problem with these women is that being a single mom isn't fun. Too hard. The dissolution of the family is hurting people.

RigelDog said...

Unknown, I too had no interest in interacting with kids before I had them. I still didn't enjoy a lot of the typical kiddie pastimes (ugh--board games!) but always felt such delight snuggling with them, reading to them, changing their "bappers" and showing them the world. And silly songs--I was always singing goofy songs to my kids. Would part with quite a bit of change to be able to go back in time and once again hold my heavy, sleeping babies.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

We had two, then adopted three more. I was born in 1953, and the fashionable view when I was a young man was that everything was environmental. So we read to our children for hours and kept their emotional and spiritual needs uppermost in our minds and threw ourselves into parenting as the Great Work of our lives, though we both had careers as well.

I am now convinced that it's all genetic, and your children will be what they are. You can rescue a bit, tweak the course of things, teach them manners. They are loads of fun when they are finally grown.

So my advice is this: have more children and pay less attention to them. They'll be fine.