Blog 91. Parenting: Some mothers actually regret having children. Why?
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In today’s Western society a lot is asked of women who become mothers.
Traditionally and even to this day, the minute a woman gets married she is asked about having children. And even if she isn’t married, these questions are still asked. This is because in most societies it is naturally expected for women to have children. Not doing so is thought of as letting the side down, but this notion can leave a woman feeling worthless and a failure.
Unfortunately and sadly, some women are not able to have children yet they are still continuously questioned, teased and even admonished for being selfish and self-centred.
And in many circles, having children is expected not only for inheritance purposes but also as status symbols. Sadly, many children are used to show off a family’s wealth and the schools and universities they can afford.
On the other hand, some women are known to have children in order to escape their families of origin, knowing that having a child would allow them to seek independent social housing and so on.
Some women have children very young and others choose to either wait or they may even become single parents, if they haven’t found the right partner, and so on.
However the reasons for having or not having children certainly varies for each woman. And it also varies, depending on whether a woman wishes to pursue a career or not.
But for some, who either get pressurised into having children or for those who think it’s just what one should do, especially if their partner wants children – the hard reality of what parenthood actually entails, can lead to much regret.
And being a mother in Western society is often unspeakably difficult.
Not every woman or couple can afford a nanny or childcare. Not every couple has an available family support network. So difficult decisions often have to be made about a prospective mother either staying at home or getting help as she continues to work.
Either way this creates problems:
- All working mothers report feeling massive amounts of guilt as they leave their children for work. But also, if they’re unable to drop off or collect their children from school, or if they return home late from work – the guilt can multiply.
- But if they stay at home, this can result in long periods of every day isolation without any other adult company. This can lead to a mother becoming emotionally numb and she may even feel her spirit beginning to get crushed, as she begins to doubt her capabilities.
And most woman will report that, “No one ever tells you how hard it is” and “Nothing prepares you for when you get home with the baby and realise what is being asked of you.” The endless round-the-clock care, sleepless nights, the crying, the tiredness, the attempts to feed with sore breasts and enduring excruciatingly pain as a result, can bring on feelings of resentment, anger and even fury. These feelings can worsen, especially if a mother lacks a supportive relationship or network of family and friends.
For some mothers on maternity leave – they know that they can return to work. Others may eventually feel suffocated, stuck and just plain bored.
Consequently, it is not surprising that in some cases where a situation is rather dire and without an end in sight – that some mothers become depressed and turn to drink or drugs. This depression is however, somewhat different to post natal depression, although the two issues can overlap.
But for (thankfully) only a few, motherhood can prove too much. This can result in them just walking out – leaving a possible partner, or family or even social workers to cope with the abandoned child or children.
Many of you may have seen the excellent movie, “The Hours”, where Laura played by Julianne Moore contemplates leaving the family home, whilst trying to impersonate a happy housewife. She attempts baking a cake for her husband’s birthday with disastrous results and then later we see her son crying in such utter despair as he watches her walk out.
It’s certainly a topic that is hard to imagine and can bring a jolt to the throat. However, it’s not only in the movies that this happens. It happens in real life too. Not all mothers are happy, not all mothers love what they have to do – and not all mothers want to stay.
And sometimes there are deeper emotional or psychological issues that may need to be addressed. Childhood issues may cause a mother to struggle in adulthood, and nurturing a child when they themselves lacked nurturing can prove very difficult. Until the particular issues are addressed, being there for another is always hard.
Yet, some mothers will continue to remain silent with a hidden regret that they ever had children – especially if they had to give up their careers to have their children.
But also, not every mother who feels this – is really prepared to admit the truth to themselves – because for many within society, this notion is too difficult to contemplate because it may remind them of their own mothers.
Usually when humans hear stories they immediately compare these stories with their own lives. They may remember times when they felt the despair and anguish within their own mothers or maybe it was their mother – who was one of those to walk away. And this may have been our fault. We may have been to blame. So it is better not to go there. It is better not to find out if we had ever created utter despair in another human being as a result of our childhood needs.
But, we may never know how many mothers regret having their children or how many have regrets because many keep battling on regardless.
However, if we begin to acknowledge that some mothers do indeed feel the need to walk out, perhaps and maybe though better understanding and knowledge, we can develop a greater support system and network for mothers who land up desperate and suffocated by what motherhood can involve.
But for us children – knowing that our mothers may have gone through this, it isn’t easy to envisage. Most of us tend to run away from this reality. But in doing so the problem may continue – needlessly and unnecessarily.
© 2018 Deidré Wallace All rights reserved.
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