Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hate Being a Mom - Part 2

As CF Vixen pointed out to me, the "Hate Being a Mom" thread on the Secret Confessions web site (from which I have posted quotes before), is still going strong with mothers coming out of the woodwork in droves to complain about how much it sucks to be a mom.

Check out this post from a poster named Natalie who must have spent at least two hours detailing the drudgery of a mom's existence.

"Listen, I will be totally honest with you:

The main reason being a mother is difficult is because of all the expectations, pressure and myths out there.

Our grandmothers or great-grandmothers didn’t worry about their careers, preschool or emotional scars, organic foods, vaccinations or getting their kids into exclusive schools the way we do.

And our mothers were aware of Dr. Spock and Dr. Sears, but otherwise were OK with “old school” methods, such as expecting kids to only speak if spoken to, do as they are told, do their chores, fear the belt or the whupping, and being forced to sit at the table until they finished their meal, etc. They also usually had more help and were not expected to work full or part-time.

Nowadays, mothers have to do EVERYTHING and do it the RIGHT WAY.

We are expected to get a full education.

We must have a career or at least a decent job.

We are supposed to look like supermodels and be thin/fit at all costs.

We are expected to have easy pregnancies and recover quickly afterwards.

We endure the most humiliating exams and questioning during and after pregnancy.

We push a baby out of our vajayjay or have it pulled out of a c-section, both of which are brutal and nearly impossible to endure.

We are supposed to feed our families home-made organic, local food; with meals featuring the healthiest options we know of (except, this changes constantly – low carb, low cholesterol, vegetarian, vegan, raw, high protein, low fat, low salt, whole foods, 6 small meals a day, no snacks, no dairy, no peanuts, no…I’m exhausted thinking about it.)

We are supposed to be frugal and thrifty yet have beautiful clothes, homes, cars and go on nice vacations to Disneyland and Yosemite.

We are supposed to be dynamite in bed, but also get up and take care of everyone. Sleep deprivation is a badge of honor.

We are supposed to care for our parents and other family members who are ailing or broke.

We must have the right insurances: health, car, life, home; and retirement funds and investments.

We have to be creative and fun, throw fabulous dinner parties (thanks, Martha Stewart) and adorable kids events, and still make every meal special.

We must teach our young children to achieve, and excel, and speak Mandarin.

We have to dress our kids in trendy, high-end clothes and they must look groomed and clean at all times.

We have to take them to chiropractors, naturopaths, dentists, orthodontists, doctors, therapists, counselors, etc.

Our kids should be playing sports, taking instrument lessons, performing in plays and musicals and we need to make those things happen.

We hand-feed our babies/toddlers for a year or so. Every. Single. Bite.

Our husbands want our full attention and the playful gal they fell in love with.

We have to coordinate all family activities, buy all the presents, and plan everything.

We have to take care of the finances, pay all the bills, deal with all the utility guys and nowadays cell phones, internet service, netflix, etc.

We have to manage the house: rent or mortgage, landscaping and yard work, hiring handymen or coordinating services.

We do all the budgeting, using strategic methods involving coupons and looking for specials.

We have to stock up the house and make sure everything is in working order (appliances, printers, alarm clocks, etc.)

We do the majority of the dishes, laundry, vacuuming, ironing (though that’s rare nowadays) and we drop off/pick up drycleaning.

We are the primary nurturers.

We groom our infants/toddlers/preschoolers/kids: baths, dental care, haircare, manicures and pedicures, etc.

We deal with issues like lice and bed bug scares.

We nurse and pump (up to 12 hours throughout a day). The first few months we don’t sleep more than a couple of hours at time between feedings. This is grueling and nearly torturous. It also hurts a lot at first.

We get up at night with the infant, the toddler, the preschooler, the gradeschooler and stay up late waiting for the highschooler and the college kid home for the summer.

We chauffer everyone around.

We hire, vet and manage the help: housekeepers, nannys, babysitters, cooks, nurses, tutors, gardeners, etc.

We help with most schoolwork and projects.

We take the kids to soccer matches and sew costumes and bake stuff for bake sales.
We volunteer at events and spend time at PTA meetings.

We change most of the diapers (10,000 is the average count) and potty train the toddlers (which can take years).

We collect the recycling and the trash and nag to get it taken out.

We email, text, call and IM our spouses and kids repeatedly to make sure appointments, meetings and events are attended, and tasks and reminders are clear.

We shop for all the toys and educational materials and clothes and sports equipment and costumes.

We bake the birthday cakes and cook the holiday meals.

We decorate the house and set up the festivities.

We make sure everyone is healthy and safe.

We read articles, books, and blogs, and converse with other moms, doctors, our families, friends, neighbors, teachers, advisors, colleagues and acquaintances and then do the research to make sure we are doing the very best we can for our family’s health, happiness, education, financial well-being and success.

We get the car cleaned inside and out and schedule the oil changes and tune-ups.
We fill up the diaper bag and make sure we have all the supplies we need at home, on the road and when traveling: diapers, wipes, pads, formula, milk, juice, fruit, diaper balm, bathsoap, Qtips, medicine, toiletries, paper goods, etc.

We make sure we have all the crucial protective gear: hats, gloves, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, netting, rain shields, boots, coats, etc.

We change the filters, batteries, light bulbs, etc.

We remind everyone about birthdays and holidays.

We arrange vacations (hotels, airfare, rentals, etc.)

We take care of everyone when they are sick. This means snot patrol, taking temperatures, researching conditions and calling doctors, taking everyone to the doctor as needed, getting prescriptions and managing them, making soup and forcing liquids, entertaining, and doing extra cleaning and laundry.

We monitor what our kids are doing, watching, listening to, and who they are spending time with.

We do what we can to avoid fighting with our spouses and prevent straying.

We set up playdates for our little ones and endure hundreds and hundreds of hours running after them or managing them at parks, museums, play areas, preschool, gyms, playfields, Chuck. E. Cheeses, kids concerts, carnivals, street fairs, kid-friendly restaurants, kid’s bookstore sections, libraries, beaches, etc.

We have mind-numbing conversations about our kids and other kids. We spend time with parents we don’t like and children we don’t warm up to.

We see, hear and experience some really gross stuff.

We re-read the same 3 kid’s books for years at a time. We listen to the same grating childrens’ songs and programs for about 5 years solid.

We teach our kids to walk, talk, eat, groom, read, dress and manage their emotions.

We get kicked, scratched and our ears are blown out from endless hysterical tantrums.

We change the bedding thousands of times, and prepare thousands of untouched meals.
We wipe up and pick up and sweep and mop and wipe down and scrub and gather stuff up so often that we think we may go crazy.

We pick up toys and clothes and things so often it seems ludicrous to even bother.

We have to childproof the house and car and yard and anywhere we go with our little ones, and then cope with the obstacles, often avoiding doing something because unlocking some cabinet is nearly impossible.

We learn CPR and other survival techniques and label everything in a frantic attempt to prevent dangerous things from happening.

We choose the best vitamins, medicines and medical equipment and store and manage everything properly.

We keep records of everyone’s medical and dental histories and vaccinations.

We process the mail and file everything and prepare the taxes.

We cut coupons, articles and ideas out from magazines or print them out for meals, events and activities.

We do almost ALL the shopping: food, toiletries, household items, supplies, etc. and we put it all away.

We keep the fridge clean and fresh, tossing away old food.

We read up on kids nutrition and shop/cook the best we can to sneak veggies into them.

We create a library for our kids and read to them as often as we can.

We set up art supplies, arts and crafts and activities to keep them occupied, learning and from getting bored.

We clean up major messes: markers on the wall, milk on the rug, overflowing toilets, peanut butter in hair, blowouts, etc.

We clean the house: sanitize the bathroom, wash the kitchen floors, scrub the sink and stovetop, etc.

We buy videos and look for educational programming and fret that the kids are watching too much Sesame Street and Saturday morning cartoons.

We prepare everything we need to take our kids out in public and then try to control them when they inevitably lose it.

We research and buy the cribs, beds, strollers, carseats, swings, play yards and the stuff that goes with them (sheets, cupholders, safety mats, etc.) We get our spouses to help put them all together if we are lucky.

We buy clothes and shoes endlessly. We sort mini socks for 5 years straight.

We go through everything and sell whatever we don’t use any longer or store it or give it away on an ongoing basis.

We worry about the worst things: abduction, molestation, major accidents, etc.
We look to experts to guide us in disciplining our children and do all we can to avoid mistakes.

We must be fully involved in our kids’ development, social lives, recreation and school careers, in order to guide them and avoid terrifying realities such as drug and alcohol addiction, as well as teen pregnancy, illness and accidents, etc.
We feel guilt, despair, and frustration 99% of the time.

We take thousands of photos, videos and keep blogs and create holiday cards and printouts for friends and family.

We arrange visits from family and friends and cope with the inevitable distances. Our support networks have diminished significantly.

We endure incredible pain: pregnancy, childbirth, post-childbirth recovery, breastfeeding, severe sleep deprivation, emotional upheaval, fear and anxiety, the horror of accidents and birth defects, serious relationship issues, recovering our bodies, and hormones gone wild.

Some of the more daunting issues we may deal with include – god forbid – serious damage to our kids during childbirth or from accidents, the (can barely write this) death of our children, mental and emotional disorders, learning disabilities, illness such as cancer or meningitis, autism, retardation, etc. These can be LIFELONG and unbelievably overwhelming, life-changing conditions. We are vulnerable and responsible.

We suffer financially from our diminished careers.

We have physical repercussions: some serious, such as scarring, infections, fistula, collapsed pelvises or hysterectomies, and some just hard to cope with: saggy breasts, fallen arches, flabby belly, awful stretchmarks, incontinence, diabetes or thyroid issues.

We cry, yell and scream in the shower. A lot."

The most refreshing thing about this post? No "...BUT IT'S SO WORTH IT" at the end, like we usually get from moms.

Click here to read the original post, or here to start from the beginning to read the whole thread. You may find yourself feeling an array of emotions as you read through the heartbreaking posts, ranging from sadness to utter relief that you avoided the same fate.

If you'd like to read more from regretful parents, click here.

45 comments:

Nahga said...

For some reason I got the image of a husband who works overtime every single weekday in order to avoid being home, simply hands over a pay check, enjoys a couple of kodak moments,and then complains about how hard he works when ever he is asked to help.

Mels said...

WHEN on earth did this woman/mom have the time to write all that?!?!

And how does she have the memory to remember it all and write it all down?

Perhaps she's a Stepford mom?

Moose said...

I have to agree with Nahga..I felt so sorry for this poor woman. I must say, I'm more thankful for my wonderful husband than ever after reading that. He helps out so much without being asked and takes an active part in booking vacations, he pays the bills, helps cook, clean and helps with dang near everything else there is to be done with our lives, house and dog. SO THANKFUL I'm not in her shoes for so many reasons. That is no way to live your life.

Spectra said...

It irritates me that so many men feel entitled to impregnate their wives and then leave all the parenting duties to Mom. I know a lot of men that think their only job is to go to work and come home and sit on the couch all day. Meanwhile, the mom is expected to do all the housework and take care of the kids as well. It's part of why I chose not to have kids. Most of the stuff on that list has zero appeal to me and I just don't feel like taking on all those jobs with zero gratitude.

Sea_creature said...

That list was exhausting. I noticed that some things on the list are pretty much repeats, just said differently. Way to lay it on thick, lady.
Our mothers and grandmothers had to worry about a lot of the stuff on that list, too. Society has fattened the 'mom's work list' with all sorts of bullshit that's simply not needed. You don't HAVE to do all of those things on the list if you're a mother, you just choose to if you're a fucking idiot.

Christy said...

"all sorts of bullshit that's simply not needed. You don't HAVE to do all of those things on the list if you're a mother, you just choose to if you're a fucking idiot."

AMEN, Sea Creature. Mommies these days complain to me that they have to pack a whole carload of crap to take one child anywhere. If someone shames you for not owning a tv or feeding your child organic food, homeschooling, or whatever---you are allowing them to shame you. Not keeping up with the Joneses is not child abuse!

Also, while I was reading this I was thinking to myself, what is the husband doing this whole time that he can't help? Jacking his dick? Why the hell would you stay with a man who wouldn't help you with his children?

That is a lot of vitamins and organic food and worry to put into a child, considering most of them start putting alcohol and drugs into their bodies around fourteen. Complete waste of time.

I think that our grandmothers and mothers may have worried, but they realized there wasn't much they could do to help. Everyone has to live their own life, and that includes children.

It was nice to see no backpeddle!

Siobhan Catherine said...

I'm exhausted just reading that. Holy crap.

Although I'm enjoying my day off a little bit more now. Back to eating ice cream in bed!

Daghain said...

OMG, martyr much?

No one MADE her do any of that. If she has more than one kid, she's an idiot. Once you realize your husband is useless, you don't have any more kids with him. Although, I suspect part of the reason he doesn't help is because supermommy is super picky and complains if he doesn't do everything perfectly, i.e. HER way.

Bed. Made. Lie. Not one ounce of sympathy from me.

TLO said...

Wow. I couldn't even read the entire list b/c I quickly became irritated and exhausted. It's fine to vent--we all do it--but come on, this woman made her choices...

Stephanie said...

I agree with most here. I couldn't make it through the list because it was all repeats AND who made her do all of this? No one. Nobody forced her to have those kids, so who's she really complaining about here? Her own dumb choices? I don't think people who make choices then complain about the work involved with those choices deserve to hear "oh you poor, poor thing". She's not going to get that from me.

Megs said...

I had the same reaction to that list as I do when I see a kiddo in "turned up to 11" freakout mode with some hapless parent trying to calm them down. I breathe in, breathe out, and get this huge, grateful grin on my face that I have escaped their fate. I came so close to caving in when I was too young to realize that having kids is a choice, not an inevitability. That could have been me. Thank Buddha, thank Jesus, thank Allah, thank Krishna, thank every god in the book. (And thank Bill Hicks, who I just borrowed material from.)

Temujin said...

I got the impression this was a composite list of the things she and all the mothers she knows do every day, not that it's just her and she has no help at all.

There is a good chance in her case there is a husband shirking his parental responsibilities, but that’s not the ONLY possibility. The biological father could be:

1. Dead.
2. Kicked out of the house a long time ago.
3. Never in the picture, by the mother’s choice.
4. More than one man if there is more than one child (there could be multiple deadbeats, actually!).
5. A donor to a sperm bank and she’s single or married to a woman.
6. Working overtime not just to stay away from home but to make enough money to PAY for all the stuff that mom says the kids need.
7. Working away from home for long periods of time, like he did before they both decided to have children.

It’s easy to say “kick the deadbeat to the curb.” Probably in a divorce she would then have access to a fraction of his paycheck instead of the whole thing, and he would be around even less. Divorce doesn’t generally make deadbeats better dads.

Shal said...

Like other comments here, I couldn't finish reading that list, it was exhausting!!! At least once a day, one of my friends on Facebook complains about their kids. I always want to ask, why didn't you think about(Complaint)BEFORE you had kids. It seems to me that very few people thing in the long term before having a child. One of the reasons I don't want kids, is, that I have thought about the 18+ years you need to invest, not just in the child themselves, but what the world might be like for them, will there be enough resources, etc. To me, the world is overpopulated enough, without all of us adding to it.

TLO said...

Wait--I just went back to read a couple of "comments" in this rant. So she is complaining about having to sanitize her house?? UM, don't we ALL have to do this? I have two dogs, I sanitize. Trust me, perhaps moreso than people with kids have to... Dogs track in a lot of s*#8.

Marionette said...

If you list everything you do in your life you'll find that you do almost ALL of these (except for the specifically child-related ones, but you'll have other committments that take up that time).

So much of it is stuff that is actually really easy and simple to do if you just have common sense. Raising a child does not HAVE to be harder than it was decades ago, mums are making it that way by trying to maintain a childfree existence while having children. Their fault, no-one elses.

She talks about helping look after parents like it's a burden, one that should fall onto the CF siblings not her!!!!

Off to write out my list of weekly committments, it'll be longer than this one, involve much more sleep deprivation and a lot more stress!

karlaj said...

I don't feel sorry for people who choose to do unnecessary things and then bitch incessantly about 'having' to do them.

'Boo hoo, woe is me...life's so hard...I live in a first world country where I have the luxury of filling my time with frivilous bullshit tasks that no one asked me to do in the first place...poor me...I have to look after the kids that I chose to have and its not a cakewalk...wahhhhh...'

Give me a break....

Childfreeeee said...

Marionette is right....the childfree ALSO do a lot of the things on this woman's list. After all, we all have homes to maintain, shopping to do, laundry and bills to pay.

The difference is, parents have to do WAY more of this than we do. For example, my household generates 2-3 loads of laundry a week. My sister-in-law, who has 3 kids, told me she does 12-13 loads a week! I can get all my weekly errands and running around done in about 2 hours on a Saturday morning. My friends and family with kids run day and night and collapse into bed exhausted every day. Our house gets a little messy, but because it's just hubby and me, it takes about 10 minutes a day of picking up after ourselves to keep the house looking pretty tidy. With kids, the housework never ends, the dish washer is running constantly and as soon as one mess is cleaned up, another is created.

Daghain said...

All right, I am just going to say it: mommy needs to STFU.

We had a "playroom" as kids. It had kid-level shelves on it. We were taught to play with a toy and PUT IT AWAY before we got out another toy. We never thought we were being "abused" (hell, we didn't know any better) and mom had a toy-free playroom at the end of the day. Remember, this was in the late 60's - early 70's, so she was home ALL DAY with us. She COULD have cleaned up after us but she decided it was better to teach us how to do it on our own - how extremely novel!

IT'S NOT THAT HARD!!!!! If you do what you're SUPPOSED to do, and teach your kids to CLEAN UP AFTER THEMSELVES, then your work is done. And, you've raised your kids to be neat. Win-win. Mommy is an idiot.

I'll admit to being a neat-freak now, but is that really a dysfunction? Sheesh!

Sara said...

I was irritated about halfway through her list. As many other commenters have noted, she's listing items that WE ALL DO. Since when is "have the right insurances" and "manage the house" the sole province of a mother? And if all of those other things are her responsibility alone (no help from husband), then she's an idiot who married the wrong guy. I'm assuming there's a husband in the picture since she also complained about needing to be "dynamite in bed".

Really tired of the "poor me" attitude from women who chose to have babies, for the wrong reasons & with the wrong partner, and want the world to either give them a medal or treat them like a saint.

Temujin said...

The list may be from a woman who never spent much time on her own or never had many responsibilities. There are still many young people out there who go from living at home to living in a dorm to married with kids. That seems like a bad, weird idea to me, but whatever.

Or it could be that whole nostalgia thing that happens sometimes when you have a kid -- you look at your life before and can only imagine all the carefree parts of it.

Kelster said...

Wow. It's sad how many expectations are placed on mothers today... I truly feel sorry. I just don't see how you could avoiding doing everything on this list and not be horribly judged for it. I'm sure glad I'll never be in that position :)

bikegirl said...

Like most of the other commenters here, I couldn't finish reading her list. I got about halfway through, and then started getting irritated, because SHE made the decision to have kids. She should have known what was involved, and that it was going to be a lot of hard work.
And where the hell is her husband, that he can't take on some of those responsibilities? Is she such a control freak that she won't let him do anything for fear that he'll do it "wrong", or is he just that much of a loser that he sits around on his ass and watches her do everything?

Sorry, suppermommy, but you'll not get any sympathy from me.

Yoe said...

"Raising a child does not HAVE to be harder than it was decades ago, mums are making it that way by trying to maintain a childfree existence while having children. Their fault, no-one elses." -- Marionette, you hit the nail on the head!

So many moms today are trying to maintain a child-free existence while having children because they really don't want children, BUT they want to fit in and look *normal*! It's the same junior high school dynamics all over again.

Temujin said...

Thanks for putting in all that work, moms of the world. I'm glad I don't have to do that. Thanks for raising the next generation.

I don't entirely buy the argument that I should be grateful for all those kids and grandkids because they'll pay into my Social Security, but I will say this: I'm glad to think that when I'm ninety years old there will still be younger people around to cook and bag my burger and fries.

So, thanks for unselfishly making my world better!

Eun Young said...

I read through some of the other posts on that website, and I actually feel sorry for these women. A frequent theme seems to be crying daily. Many sound suicidal. I don't want kids, but I have definitely been on the fence about it just recently (as my 30s seem drawing to a close). Of course I completely feel that it's a woman's right to have or not have kids. What I don't like is a few of the child-free women who sound downright catty and mean to the ones who did choose to children. We are all women, and that in itself is tough enough without turning on each other based on one's decision to procreate or not. I really hope that someday women will stop attacking one another based on a very personal and monumental life decision. I also hope that women will stop feeding each bulls*$# about the "glories" of motherhood and just be straight with each other!!
Even reading through those secret confessions, it seems like they are STILL lying to each other and to themselves! Here's one quote: "i hate being a mother some days......but all i can say is that if it was just me and my husband right now and we didn’t have any kids i would still be wanting a baby."
WTF??? I don't get our gender sometimes!!!

Yoe said...

"i hate being a mother some days......but all i can say is that if it was just me and my husband right now and we didn’t have any kids i would still be wanting a baby."

But that's just it! The vast majority want BABIES, not to actually take on the responsibility of raising a dynamic human being. I don't understand it.

Temujin said...

I've been following the confessions site for a while now. I can tell you that the "I hate being a mom" thread is going strong at more than 1000 responses, far and away the most active thread there. Most of the confessions get fewer than 10!

I just read one response bemoaning the cost of babysitting. I would point her to this long list.

Parents can't have it both ways. You can't say on the one hand that raising kids is difficult and takes a lot of skill and then on the other hand say that childcare should be cheap. If it's so demanding and so important to the future, then you shouldn't mind shelling out $10 an hour for a babysitter. Aren't your precious darlings worth every penny? Shouldn't people who do really hard work get paid a lot?

Natalie said...

"i live in a first world country where I have the luxury of filling my time with frivilous bullshit tasks that no one asked me to do in the first place."

AMEN.

Lisa said...

Unlike most of the commentors here, I could read the list and not become annoyed at it. To me this list is more like a compilation of every single expectation and pressure issue that a mother could face and less like one woman bitching about her life. I bet every mother in the world has felt the pressure of at least a handful of these points. Anyone who believes in the de-glorifying of parenthood should support this in-depth look at the glorification and unrealistic standards of the title of Motherhood.

And that thing about sanitizing and cleaning that everyone seems to be pissed at her for, are you responsible for cleaning the whole house yourself? As women/wives/mothers somehow the responsibility for cleaning is expected to fall on our shoulders. Sexism at its finest.

jill said...

Here are the top reasons moms hate being a mom...

Feeling, icky, sticky, and stretched out.
Having no time to rectify feeling icky, sticky, and stretched out...ie working out, new clothes, etc.
Feeling suffocated with incessant noise, chatter, and chaos.
Feeling exhausted with mind numbingly boring never-ending domestic tasks.
Loss of identity.
Loss of dreams and goals...this is a biggie.
Loss of intimacy and spark with partner....too tired and no time to be together...it's all work work work.
Wicked hormonal changes and profound sleep deprivation that can easily trigger mental instability.
Feeling of your hands being permanently tied behind your back to make positive changes in life. You can only survive day by day.
Isolation and profound loneliness from other adults and the real world. You feel socially starved.
Profound feelings of loss of joy and pleasure in life. Life feels drab, hard, and joyless with all of the never-ending tedious tasks.
Loss of feeling like your life has possibilities...it feels etched in stone.

Well, those are the biggies. Now that my kids are older, though, 8 and 10, those feelings have eased up quite a bit. Much easier now.

I do feel like a survivor of some hellacious domestic marathon from their younger years though.

Now I appreciate life more because I am sooooooo eternally grateful to not have babies and toddlers underfoot. Those years, marked by the list above, were hard, hard, hard, hard, hard.

Good for you all for thinking through your decisions so carefully and being aware of the realities of having kids.

Heather said...

Wow how sad :( This reminds me that my life isn't so tough after all. I only have me and my boyfriend to really worry about. I would be hysterical with children..

Yikes.

Tonya said...

Boy, I was only about a third down the list and already wanted to shoot myself. Better her than me.

Lisa Longway said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tash said...

Hi - I'm Natalie.

I realize this is over 6 months later, but I'd like to respond to all the comments made about my original post.

Before getting into that, I'd like to mention that I completely advocate and support the childfree lifestyle and was open to it before I had my one child.

My own childhood was really unpleasant and my parents were/are very difficult people. I didn't want to ruin another life, nor did I wish to pass on my genes, traits and issues.

However.

I met my partner and he changed my perspective. I wanted him to have a chance to pass on his positive characteristics, and he encouraged me to see that for myself as well. I was not 100% opposed to having kids, just very wary about it. He seemed like he would be a good parent.

As you get older, you definitely wonder "what if I don't?" no matter how sure you are about not having kids.

You wonder if you'll regret it.
You wonder what you may be missing.
You wonder if it's biologically helpful.
You wonder if attempting to keep your DNA thread going is existentially useful.

It looked like I couldn't bear children, anyway. I had surgeries and complications that highly reduced the chances. All signs pointed to no dice. We tried and got nowhere and I resigned myself to living with the questions.

Then, we got a late life surprise.

I support choice, but it wasn't an option for us. We wanted the baby.

So - let me address the many points made about my looooong rant.

TOPIC: The site I originally posted on is expressly designed for people to confess how they feel. It's not a site designed to justify anything or advocate for any particular lifestyle change. The "I hate being a mom" threads tend to get a lot of play because being a mom is indeed very difficult these days.

The point of my post was that WOMEN - with or without children - have an overwhelming workload. Having kids makes it that much harder.

LENGTH:
Yes. I vented and dumped a lot of what was on my mind so the post was crazy-long (as this response will be, too). I frequently have insomnia and this was a doozy night, so I just kept writing. I had read so many other comments that my brain was swirling. Oh, and I'm a writer by trade, so there's that.

REPETITION:
This was a stream of consciousness brain dump. Forgive me for not putting in even more time editing it – no one pays for comments. Every point is relevant, though, in my opinion.

PARTNER + FINANCES:
You do all realize we are deep in a recession, right?

tash said...

REQUIREMENTS vs. PREFERENCES: Much of what is on ANY list could be considered optional. My point was that what I listed is all that's expected of mothers by society and our families as well as ourselves.

I am surprised that many called me names and disparaged me. I am not complaining about the childfree lifestyle and I am certainly not expecting anything by having vented on a "secret confessions" website. Feel free to judge me while I fully support your choices. Your assessments of my life as a mother are pretty useless if you haven't been down that road yourselves. Remember: ALL of you are here because someone took care of YOU. Now, you get to enjoy life without having to pay that back.

Ask yourselves, "What type of support do I have in my life?" Because that is the real topic.

If you had to be a caretaker to a sick relative or partner or step-kid (and guess what - it's more than likely to happen, sooner than later), you wouldn't be so quick to judge parents.

(And no, Marionette - I NEVER said that caretaking of parents should go to the CF sibling. Although I would NEVER want ANYONE to have to take care of me in the future. I certainly didn't have a kid for that reason.)

Not all of us become parents because of careless narcissism. If you read carefully, you'd find that many women DO use proper birth control, but end up pregnant. And few of us know what something is like UNTIL we go through it. Of COURSE it's going to be a lot of work, but so little about the reality is passed down. The world lies to women - it's not a Hallmark card or a Gerber commercial, that's for sure. Read any modern book about having babies and you'll be shocked by what it entails as well as what is excluded (those things you learn by reading blogs and are eye-openers: episiotomies/tears, pelvic collapse, serious depression, cracked nipples, bladder damage, infections, permanent visible physical changes, not to mention all the frightening things that can occur for your child).

The reality is different for everyone, but usually harder than one assumes. For example: my own mother lived in my grandmother's house her entire life. We essentially had a live-in domestic. My grandmother took care of us, fed us, drove us places, babysat, etc. My mother never factored that in when pressuring me to have kids. Meanwhile, she's been in a wheelchair my entire adult life (due to smoking herself into a stroke).

Also, it's been made clear that if you can nurse, you should, for the health of your baby. Well, guess what? I had NO IDEA that it meant possibly nursing for 12 solid hours out of 24 PER DAY, months on end, in addition to the HOURS AND HOURS of pumping you have to do to store enough milk to take a sanity break or for emergencies. I felt like I wanted to crawl out of my skin the first 8 months. Sure, you can use formula, however not all infants take to it or can tolerate it, some end up refusing breastmilk, and most get such an overwhelming benefit from the real thing that you are strongly persuaded to avoid it.

And having no real sleep for years on end – I kid you not – makes you insane.

The list I wrote includes the usual stuff that needs to get done when crafting a life. It's just bizarre to me how much of that gets thrown at women. And much of it DOES become more crucial with kids. You DO have to make sure your insurance coverage is in order because of your completely dependent children.

TLO said...

But I have no desire to care for an infant/raise a child into adulthood. I don't think "what if?" I don't lie awake at night wondering if it would be "biologically helpful" or "existentially useful" (huh?) for me to reproduce. I am RELIEVED to not fret over how to pay for daycare, whether or not I'm the "proper" kind of parent, how the world views me as a mom, whether I'm involved enough/letting my kid be independent enough, etc. I'm RELIEVED that my husband and I can make spontaneous plans (well, more or less, as we DO have two dogs, and that is a huge responsibility in itself) for an evening after work without worrying about who will stay at home with the kid. I am RELIEVED that I don't have to worry about breastfeeding (or not, and how I'd be judged by society), diapers, kids' allergies, vaccines, croup, all-night poop/barf sessions, paying for an education, and "playdates" with annoying children and their more annoying parents.
I have the "right" partner for me--someone who, like me, does not want children and does not "encourage" me to want them/pass on my "positive" traits. I found a person who loves me for ME, respects my choices, agrees with them, loves to travel, wants freedom, and is happy as hell living a CF lifestyle.
And that's just my two cents' worth.

Temujin said...

In response to Tash's most recent posts:

I think you make really good points here. There's no benefit in calling you or anyone bad names. Thanks for saying you appreciate the childfree choice.

Where you lost me for a bit was the whole "you'll never know until you have kids..." thing. I buy that, but only up to a point. It’s not *literally* true that you have NO idea until you have one, obviously. Think about it. Clearly there is evidence all around us about what it’s like to be a parent, if people are willing to look. Maybe firsthand experience is the best source of evidence, but it’s not like we have no idea at all what parenthood is like.

As I’ve said elsewhere, if no one has any idea about parenting before becoming a parent, that means everyone who becomes a first-time parent does so out of ignorance. That means choosing to be a parent is always an ignorant choice, and I don’t think that's true either.

If the standard is “you don’t know what it’s like unless…” then that means no one could ever presume to question my choice to be childfree. After all, “you never know unless you’re me.”

I also don’t buy into the idea of having children because my parents raised me. I’m not going to feel guilty about something I had no choice over. That sounds like the whole “Original Sin” thing that I outgrew a long time ago.

tash said...

To Temujin Part 2: What goes on during pregnancy and childbirth and the first year is unbelievable. It’s not a series of disparate events – it’s a cascade of incessant physiological transformations, some overlapping and others at odds. Some people wash it over with flowery words, others are pragmatic, but few can relay the experiences with clarity. And frankly, so many stark details are glossed over or somehow not passed down properly. I believe it has to do with our puritanical society and, again, conservative religious beliefs.

Some do have better experiences than others, but for those of us who hit obstacles – such as issues and illness during pregnancy, the possibility of a stillborn child, disabled kids, compound issues that exacerbate stress (job loss, divorce, accidents), lack of postpartum support, postpartum depression, financial issues, etc. – the reality is like a wrecking ball to the head.

And on top of it, life goes on. We have to work, manage the house, deal with relationships and family problems. Some have it much worse, of course, maybe having spouses in the military or in prison or sick kids, etc. Oh, and the fears! Abduction, molestation, SIDS, autism, freak accidents (one kid I heard about recently had a flatscreen TV fall on him and died; another was playing under a massage table and was crushed…by his mother). The stress is compounded.

I never said those without kids have NO idea what it’s like. I am saying that it’s WAY, WAY different than I would have every imagined, and most other parents seem to agree. It’s not easy to explain that you turn into a different version of yourself.

Sure, there are amazing positives that are also impossible to comprehend until they occur. It’s difficult to explain the feelings of seeing the essence of people you love being expressed in your young child. It’s challenging to describe the sensation of seeing a living example of the love you and a partner created together. It’s not easy to relay how deep a connection one can fuse with your own child after so many days and nights. It’s profound. There’s a sense of knowing, almost a special language as well as an unspoken, eternal bond. And I’m sure the same would be true of adopting a child. Even watching someone’s pet for a few weeks pales to living with your own pet for years.

I bet boot camp is a major eye-opener to first time enlistees, and that being on the front lines is difficult to explain – even though we’ve all seen tons of movies about it. I can’t imagine what it’s like to fly to the moon even though I’ve flown in planes and watched IMAX movies about space. I can’t begin to explain what it’s like to be a man, even though I’ve lived around men my whole life. And if there’s one thing reality TV has demonstrated, it’s that another person’s life is very difficult to fully comprehend. I don’t presume to understand or minimize yours.

Meanwhile, I did not insinuate that you should feel guilty about your parents raising you, but that you should be relieved that they did and you won’t have to do it. Meanwhile, most of us who do have kids, even though we complain about it, have nothing against those who don’t. It’s usually the parents of those who may have chosen the CF lifestyle (or the parents of those who are otherwise unable to have kids) who put the pressure on for grandkids and try to make their kids feel guilty. Or those who are very religious. And a very few who seem to feel better if others do as they do, or simply have trouble understanding those who go against the norm.

I get it that not everyone can, wants to or should have kids. I appreciate that it takes a village to raise a kid, and that it also takes a village made up of all types of people to run that village. Enjoy life!

Temujin said...

Tash,

Thanks for your reply. I think I understand much better where you're coming from. We agree much more than I thought we did. I see that I may have heard you say things you weren't actually saying.(Shocking, I know. Who would ever do such a thing in a blog discussion?....)

TLO said...

Some of us also have a never-ending life of family health issues, our own health issues (eating disorders, cancer, autoimmune disorders), pet issues, and overall life issues. Guess what? Marriages are even difficult sans children, though no one seems to acknowledge this! Relationships also take work, kids or no kids.
Not to remotely diminish the experiences of those who are pregnant and are raising children, but others (the CF in this group and beyond) also experience some pretty scary/challenging (and ongoing) issues as well.
The list of concerns/issues that Tasha just shared, however, makes me even more satisfied (and reaffirms ALL of my inclinations) that I am living child-free. I give a lot of credit to those who desire kids, and are MINDFULLY raising them. However, I don't feel that the rest of us are selfish, unaware, or somehow less burdened. We all have issues, and should be respectful of anyone who is consciously and intelligently following their dreams/goals/life choices.
And P.S., though my family/friends with kids OFTEN complain about their kid-influenced challenges, I am so very happy to say that my husband and I do NOT complain about our lifestyle. Perhaps that is one rather large difference b/w the parenting and CF folk? Just a thought.

motheroffour said...

Well it is quite obvious that all of you people don't have kids or at least ones you care for. I truly relate to what the post describes. parenting multiple children is an extremely hard job, especially if you do it right. I feel that people who don't have multiple children really don't understand what motherhood is like.

TLO said...

I don't purport to imagine what is like to parent multiple kids...And really, I have no desire to understand it. That is why I choose to be child-free and also why I read this blog. That said, I respect the parenting folk in my life, I babysat years, and yes, there ARE kids in my family/life about whom I care deeply.
However, at some point, I realized I had no deep-rooted desire to be a parent 24/7.
Just as people who are child-free cannot fully comprehend the issues that come with raising children, parents also can't understand the stressors (and joys) that come with being child-free. It goes both ways. :) At least "society" fully supports the idea that "family" means two parents plus kid(s). The child-free of the world come up against this constantly, and we repeatedly have to "prove" that our households can also be families, even without the pitter-patter of baby (human) feet.

Spumoni said...

I don't have kids and I am so grateful for her list, as it serves as a good reminder of all the associated responsibilities I do not want. Also, I'm surprised how very few people on here have any empathy left. You're right, she doesn't HAVE TO do all those things. However, it's apparent she's doing her best to be a good mom. Society is cruel and it puts a lot of pressure on all of us, in many aspects of our lives. Surely, we can all relate on some level, child-free or not.

lara smith said...

I am not sure why so many ladies are jumping on this woman as if she is wrong to vent. To be honest some women have a child and before they have that child they do not realise how crippling it is going to be to have a child. Hell I had no idea how hard it would be. Why? Because I have watched my friends and family members with kids act like everything is perfect.

I do the same thing now, I act like everything is perfect because I dont want anybody to know how dreadful it really is. It is not poor me, it is really not a good idea to keep these feelings inside at all. I know because I had to counsel a friend recently through the loss of his wife because she committed suicide and never told anyone her feelings. After leaving a note she hanged herself, and explained why.

So women should be able to talk to each other about how they feel without being judged and told to shut the f up and all that. To be honest this is why women dont say anything. Because there are too many judgmental people out there.

No You don't have to teach your kids a different language and do all those things in the list, what she is saying is that there are a lot of expectations when it comes to motherhood. Especially these days, it can be feel like a lot of pressure sometimes. The woman hasn't told her whole life story so you dont know what other factors are causing her to feel like this. So I am not judging her and I dont think others should either. I know how she feels, even with help from partners and family, the mothers job is the hardest.

bonclyde149150 said...

Holy cow! This past January a mother posted on that regrets page about being 26-years-old with six kids and the kids are a year apart. What a way to start navigating the real world after finishing high school!