Monday, January 31, 2011
A Man's View: Brian
What is the truth? I’m sure every single person on this planet will ask themselves this question today and everyday henceforth; it’s a question that has plagued me ever since I started serious thought into the most important life question a human being will ever ask: Do I want to be a parent or not? Two years and eight months ago I met the most wonderful lady I could ever imagine; I said a prayer asking Jesus for a certain woman and she met everything I ever asked for even down to hair and eye color. She was a dream come true; during our time in college we had the time of our lives. Staying out late, sleeping in all day, yelling until we lost our voices at football games, two-stepping at our favorite dance hall; I must admit that the first two years truly were the most fun. Then the inevitable happened, both of us graduated; that’s when the reality of life hit us square in the head and the euphoria of college life started to dwindle away.
When we first met, and I must admit I was rather shocked by this; she mentioned rather randomly of how she wanted two kids. Naturally she asked me what my desire was and as shocked as I was, I was amazed I was even able to stammer out a nervous answer. “Two? That seems like a lot, I think I’d rather have one first and see how it goes from there; I think they’re a lot of hard work.” Was I being honest at the time when I said that during the first few weeks? I’d like to think so; but at that point my attitude had been to just shrug my shoulders at the issue and say, “Why not? It’s just what people are supposed to do; get married and become parents.” Who honestly is thinking seriously about this kind of thing while they’re having the time of their life in college? I don’t deny that some people do, obviously my girlfriend was; but among men, I would be surprised if many of them were. I’ll never forget the uneasiness I felt though even when I answered, ‘yes’; without anyone telling me, I instinctively knew how hard it was going to be just to care for one child. The idea of adding another one to the mix just sounded insane and I really tried to reinforce that to her when conversations like that would pop up now and again. It was always the same response, “I think we should just see what it’s like with one before we agree to two.” She seemed unwilling to heed any of my warnings, but regardless of how content she was with the pretty picture she had painted in her head; I knew my uneasiness wasn’t something to ignore.
Now by this point I had already graduated and was working in town waiting for her to finish school; it was right around the time of her graduation, when the two of us had talked about moving down to Houston to live close by and work, that I started to truly give some serious thought to all of the major issues I had purposefully put off thinking about. The biggest of these being children; it was at this point when the first honest feelings of, “I may not want any,” began to surface. Should I have confessed these doubts to her the moment I started to experience them? Yes, I should have. Was I wrong for withholding this from her for so long? Yes, I absolutely was and I will admit now that it was the cowardly thing to do. Now this is not an excuse, but merely an explanation of how I rationalized not telling her right away: I honestly thought, as a lot of parents tell us, that “it’s merely a phase you’ll grow out of; you’re just not ready now, but you will be. When the day comes your mind will change.” These words echoed in my head and I really did wonder: “Maybe this is just some irrational fear I’ll get over in a few weeks; maybe it’s just the reality of living life outside of college that has me nervous about everything. If I tell her I don’t want kids, she leaves me, and these feelings turn out to be insincere, I will have made the biggest mistake of my life.”
And that is what I kept telling myself over and over again in my head to prevent the truth from slipping out. It was almost three months ago from today that the truth finally did come out, between bouts of utter sobbing. Yes, I know I should be ashamed to admit that I was sobbing, how un-manly of me; but when faced with the reality that the love of my life, my very best friend, would probably say the most heartbreaking words I could ever imagine, “It’s over”, when I confessed that I didn’t desire to be a parent; those emotions were impossible to suppress. I had prepared myself for it, I’d said my goodbyes to her pets, her family; everything we had shared together for over two and a half years, I said goodbye to. I was shocked when her response didn’t turn out to be, “It’s over”, but rather, “I don’t believe you.” When I really tried to assure her that I was sincere, then all of the insults that all of us are familiar with came rushing out of her mouth like a river, “That’s selfish; what an abnormal, sick, satanic thing. You love yourself more than you love me; I’ve wasted two and a half years of my life! You’ve lied to me this whole time; you betrayed me!”
After surviving this brutal gauntlet, she finally cooled down long enough to try and assure me, “Look, I’m not going to leave you; I’ll just wait for your mind to change. Now don’t ask me to wait for long, because I won’t; there are plenty of other better men out there for me to be with, so don’t prevent me from moving on for too long; but I know this is just a phase, some irrational fear that you have that you’ll grow out of.” I was more insulted than I was relieved. Imagine if I had spewed those same insults at her if she confessed her desire to be a parent? Would she have appreciated it if I’d said, “Oh, this whole motherhood desire is just some abnormal phase you’ll grow out of.” I wouldn’t have dared to say that to her; I can’t possibly discern and speak for the desires of her heart. If that’s what she says she wants, I’m supposed to take her words seriously the moment she utters them; but for me? No, a childfree desire must be a joke of some kind. Now if you’re wondering how we can still be together three months after this confession was made; out of respect for her I have taken her advice and taken some time to discern if this truly is my heart’s desire. With each passing day I have had more and more peace regarding a childfree life and I truly have a lot of you childfree people on this blog to thank for that; your support and encouraging words have been truly uplifting.
Now this discernment period, as well as some counseling did allow me to think of some possible events that may be factoring in to my childfree desire. When you’re told growing up that, “It’s YOUR fault that your Mom and I are fighting all the time; when you grow up I hope you never have a child that’s been as difficult as you’ve been to me.” Those were some scalding, scarring words, and maybe that has contributed subconsciously to this desire of mine. Remembering those events did force me to question, “So if what he said is true, then how exactly are children a blessing to a marriage when apparently my Dad is telling me that all I did was bring trouble to theirs?” I told this to my Mom recently and of course she tried to deflect any wrongdoing from me, saying, “Oh, that’s just him not taking responsibility for his own problems.” Maybe that’s true; but I like to think that it was my Mom trying desperately to convince me that, as a child, I didn’t do anything to contribute to those turbulent times. Even after she confessed that, I still told her how my desire was unchanging; I really didn’t desire children. This of course caused her to cry and for her to tell me how she has already seen my children, two boys in fact, in a dream. I’m just stunned that she should be so grieved over this, after all my brother and sister-in-law recently had a little girl of their own; so it’s not like my Mom is starved of grandchildren. Heck she’ll have plenty; the two of them eventually want to have three kids! I guess that’s just the prevailing American attitude, we can never have enough. “One child isn’t enough, I need two more; one grandchild is too few, give me more; my house isn’t big enough, I don’t have enough money, my car isn’t fast enough, I’m not strong enough, not skinny enough; blah, blah, blah, the list is unending.”
Quick word of wisdom, to all of you couples out there and to anyone who is single (or about to be because of this); PLEASE be honest about this issue. For those of us whose minds are clearly made up on the desire to not have children; let’s stay strong and not let anyone forcibly dissuade us. For anyone who may be reading this blog who remains a “fence-sitter” on this issue, I’ll say this. The best way to discover what your heart’s desire is on this is to sit in a quiet space where the only voice you can hear within 100 miles is your own. That’s ALL that matters, what do you hear YOUR heart telling you once you’ve quieted all of the voices of your family, friends, relatives, or total strangers. Remember, each of them, whether they’re aware of it or not, are trying to persuade and shape your thought process with their biases and opinions; they have a set of values they’re trying to impress upon you. Now let me be consistent here, don’t let anyone who’s childfree try and convince you to go that route either; just shut out everyone and ask the most important question you ever will in your life, “Do I want to be a parent?” Remember, you have only ONE life to live; it is NOT, and I’ll say it again, it is NOT selfish to live the kind of life that in your heart, you know would make you happy. Your identity, your wants, desires and ambitions, let them be YOUR OWN; remember, the minute you let anyone shape your identity for you, you’ve lost it. It was never yours to begin with. Remember, ONE LIFE; LIVE IT YOUR WAY!
Remember, if you get talked into a lifestyle that makes you miserable until the day you die; don’t think you’ll get a do-over or a second chance. When life is over, it’s over; live it to the fullest! And for you women; there are many things to be ambitious about in life; you have more choices available to you than being a mother. For many, that is the life they choose and it s a noble one. There have been thousands of prominent figures throughout history who have had revolutionary and everlasting contributions to our way of life; that wouldn’t have been possible had there not been a mother to raise them. However, is this the greatest or most fulfilling life choice available to you? Not even close. People without children, Jesus Christ, Paul, Mother Theresa, St. Francis, Leonardo DaVinci; all of them and many others had just as much a lasting impact on history and on people lives as anyone else. As for anyone who wants to call a childfree person selfish, let me tell this story: “My great grandfather, before he immigrated to the United States, was a member of the Irish Republican Army. He was proud of it and displayed his membership pin openly; two British soldiers followed him home and proceeded to nearly beat him to death with their rifles before dragging him out to a swamp behind his house to drown him in front of his wife. The priest from his church, only 26 years old, followed them there and told the British soldiers, “If you’re intent on taking a life; take mine and let him live.” Without hesitation, they took that young priest and drowned him to death. After reading that, anyone want to try and assert that childfree people are selfish, conceited and self-absorbed?
Moving on from that somber tale, remember; the suburban house with a white picket fence and two kids may be a formula that works for most, BUT NOT ALL. This formula can’t be forcibly applied to everyone woman with the promise that it WILL bring you happiness. I’ve been told that parenthood is the “normal” desire because it’s what most people do. Yeah? Well most people enjoy drinking themselves into an embarrassing stupor, most people enjoy doing drugs of some kinds; most people enjoy being intolerant, hateful and disrespectful; even to the point of physically harming others. Why don’t we all just run off and behave that way too; as my parents used to tell me, “If you saw your friends jumping off a cliff to their deaths, would you follow them?” Just because it may be normal for most, doesn’t mean its normal for YOU or that it will bring you happiness; think of YOURSELF and what you want out of life, there is no wrong in that. Don’t let anyone look down on you or your life choices, remember, as Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
My girlfriend always accuses me of thinking about parenthood too much; in my humble opinion, you can never think of it enough! Parenthood is the hardest thing you will ever take on in life, (remember it lasts a LIFETIME, not just eighteen years) and it’s IRREVERSIBLE. I’ve never understood people who tell you, almost casually, just to “try it”, “You’ll feel differently if you just try it.” I’m sorry, but ice cream is something you try. If I try the vanilla flavor and don’t find it tasty; I can easily hand it back and ask for another. Mark my words, parenthood is NOT something to try; besides, what if you have a kid and you realize, “Oh crap, I don’t like this.” What are you going to do; just hand it back and move on with what you were doing before?!
Another opinion I have on this is, whether you want to be a parent or not, agree BEFORE marriage on how many kids you will have or NOT have. Whether it’s eight or none; both spouses should agree on the EXACT number of children they will have. I have read so many tragic stories over how divorce has happened because one or the other spouse was not in agreement on the issues of children, whether it’s if they wanted them or not or how many they wanted to have. Leave no stone unturned before marriage, especially this one. Don’t hesitate to make it a contract either; I’m completely serious: Fill out a sheet agreeing to how many children you want to have (or not have) and then sign it. Then in the future if one or the other tries to back out on what they promised from the start, you can always point to that signed piece of paper and remind them of what they agreed to. For anyone who is childfree, don’t accept dialogue from your spouse that says, “You’re right, I’m not ready NOW either.” That’s almost assuredly implying that your partner wants kids at a later time in life; if you hear that kind of language, be wary. Make sure the words coming out of their mouth is just like yours, “I don’t want kids at all, either.”
Furthermore, as the title of this post says, “The consequences may hurt REALLY badly, but please don’t hesitate to be honest with yourself and with your partner on the issue of children.” I’m paying the price now, and my girlfriend even admitted that she’d wished I’d never said anything at all, but rather pretended everything was the way it was. I’m sorry, but life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows; you can just cover your ears, close your eyes and chant, LA, LA, LA, while you ignore the harsh realities that are sure to come. I try to remind her on this regarding parenthood; she seems convinced that the parenthood experience will be the equivalent to skipping along a yellow-bricked road covered with rose petals while rainbows paint the sky and bluebirds sing in the trees. I never hesitate to tell her that the desire to be a mother is not wrong, it is an honorable and noble undertaking, just like the childfree life; but every time I try and warn her of how difficult it is going to be and how she shouldn’t underestimate the lifestyle, she is completely unwilling to hear it. At times I just don’t know if she really knows what she’s getting in to; at one point she told my sister-in-law (both she and my brother seem to be the only people who understand and accept me), that she should only tell me how good motherhood is. She just shrugged her shoulders and answered, “Well, I’ll tell him the good; but I’m going to share how hard it is too.” She tends to complain about how hard her day at work as a kindergarten assistant is and how exhausted she is when she gets home; as my sister-in-law reminded her, “You think your life is hard now without a kid? You think you’re tired, you think you can even begin to comprehend frustration? Brace yourself!” When she’s taking a nap she gets so upset when she hears the dogs running around in the living room, I can’t help but ask, “You think that’s noisy? What’s your attitude going to be when it’s your kids out there making the noise?” All of the things she tells me that she can’t live without now; sleep, freedom, exercise, are all things she’s going to lose quite rapidly once a baby comes. I don’t want her to learn that the hard way; but she seems determined to.
Also, for you ladies out there; I almost feel like I have to apologize for my gender on this. I have seen some of the most mean-spirited and despicable comments come from men towards childfree women and even women who are on the fence, comments to the tune of, and this is toned down significantly, “What’s with you not wanting kids? That’s really all you’re here on this earth do; now pump me out some babies so I can thump my chest and say, “Look at what I have created; there is a little mini-me with my bloodline in it running around! I can also use it to prove to my guy friends how straight and manly I am.” You think I’m kidding? I’ve heard some shallow reasons from women for wanting to have children; but none of them even come close to men. Ladies, believe me, there are good men out there who are mindful of the hell you have to go through that is pregnancy, childbirth, and being a stay-at-home mom. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I knew I contributed to a woman experiencing all of those things; remind those men that’s easy for them to want children because they’re not the ones at home taking care of them 24-7! Stand up for yourselves, ladies, and don’t be bullied into a corner to accept a life you do not want. Guys, same with you; don’t let a lady, no matter how much you love her, persuade you into taking on a job and a lifestyle you do not desire. A good friend of mine has a Dad that did not want to be a father, but was persuaded into doing it. He turned out to be abusive toward both her and her brother, the moment he held both of them in his arms, in his own words, “He felt nothing.” Don’t be that man; don’t come to that realization when it’s too late.
Remember, parenthood is, “a job”, not unlike any other; except it’s much harder, more exhausting, and the benefits of taking it on are few and far between. A quick reminder to those on the fence, if you are 99.9% sure you want a kid, DO NOT have one! I’m telling you, that .1% may seem insignificant to you; but even the tiniest speck of doubt can be amplified once the stress of pregnancy and parenthood begin to sink in. Don’t bring a child in to this world and regret; there can be no greater tragedy than that. I’ve had people tell me that if I remain childfree, I’ll regret it; yes, that may very well be a possibility, but I would rather not have a kid and regret it than to have a child and then regret it because then two people suffer as opposed to one. Guys, if you’re like me and you’re certain that fatherhood is not for you; if you do wind up getting married, let US be the ones to get sterilized; Vasectomies are far less invasive and do not require anesthesia unlike procedures for women. Don’t make your wife or girlfriend go through that; just take thirty minutes out of your day and have it done and over with.
Finally, I want to stress the one thing I am proudest of on this post; I am a Christian. This is the source of my greatest joy, and yet I am also ashamed of this. When I see the behavior of Christians being so diametrically opposed to the very character and teachings of Jesus; I can’t imagine the untold damage that is being done to his name and his gospel. If you have had the “Be fruitful and multiply and children are a blessing” diatribe forcibly thrown in your face; don’t associate that legalistic, intolerant religious person with Jesus, HE WAS NOT THAT WAY. Jesus was accepting, heck even he never had children of his own (Christian seem to be willfully ignorant of this), as well as Paul, two pillars of our faith, never had children. Yet Christians try so desperately to peddle parenthood as the only reason for marriage to exist, marriage exists for HOLINESS, NOT PARENTHOOD. Remember, Jesus saw all people, regardless of age, as his children. That’s my view on it too, I don’t need to have two of my own children for me to have some incentive to help them; I care about all people at every stage of life, not just when they’re little.
Let me explain more about doctrine that pressures and promotes parenthood; pressure to procreate from churches stems from the desire to fill the coffers with tithes; and they call the childfree materialistic? Though of course that makes little sense, when they’re spending so much money on their children, they’ll have that much less to donate to the church. Also, and this is just embarrassing, the pressure to procreate for the sake of “out-breeding people of other religions, particularly Muslims.” And they call childfree abnormal? Furthermore, “The children are a blessing” line is from Psalms, not only is that a poetic book, not one to pull doctrine or biblical law from, but not all children remain little. When they grow up into adults, they have free reign to become whoever they choose to be. I mean, look at Mao Zedong, Stalin and Hitler; oh yes, what a blessing they were to this earth. If you want a more recent account, the gunman in Arizona who killed six people and wounded many others, oh yes, what a blessing he’s been to others’ lives.
Parents seem to be deluded into thinking that they can have a little mini-them running around who both looks and acts exactly the same. Prepare yourself for disappointment, almost everyone I know, including myself, turned out to be nothing like their parents. I can’t imagine the disappointment one parent must feel when they have these expectations of their child growing up into a perfectly, obedient Christian adult. If you’re brainwashing yourself with that, how accepting and loving will you be if you kid comes home and confesses they want to become a Muslim, or that they’re gay, or that they don’t believe in anything? Quit trying to visualize what you want your child’s life to be like and expect it to happen as you envision; you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. Let your children live day to day and love them through whatever they decide to become.
Lastly, the “Be fruitful and multiply” was not a command from Jesus at all, but an additional blessing. Besides, look at the timeline when that statement was made. The earth was EMPTY; seeing as how we are rapidly running out of space, I would say that has been more than fulfilled by now. Besides, I think there’s a reason that birth control was invented; I believe ideas that benefit mankind are divinely inspired. I have no doubt that this invention was thought of at just the right time in our environmental history.
In closing, I just want the world to know how much I love my girlfriend and how I so desperately wish that we never end up parting ways. As I’ve tried to tell her, being with her leaves nothing to be desired; as long as I can live life with her, I wouldn’t need a single thing. It saddens me to think that her feelings are not mutual, it saddens me to think that she looks me and thinks, “I love you, but you’re not enough.” For all of you couples who may be suppressing any doubts about children for fear of what your partner may think; don’t wait any longer. No matter how badly it may hurt, never hesitate to do the right thing by being honest. Your life is YOURS, don’t live it for someone else; live it for YOU! THAT IS NOT SELFISH! May Jesus bless all of you?
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The Today Show Still Doesn't Get It
Well, looks like The Today Show is at it again - pedaling their pronatalist viewpoints. This time, Matt Lauer is giving the third degree to a young man, Toby Byrum, who has formalized his decision not to have children by having a vasectomy.
Watch Matt throw some of the tired old "bingoes" out to the happily childfree guy: "What about passing on your last name?" "What if you change your mind?" "Did you bank sperm as an escape hatch?" (the assumption, of course, being that Toby surely doesn't know his own mind and that his decision is a questionable one).
Of course, The Today Show wouldn't be The Today Show without an "expert" therapist chiming in with advice and warnings for the poor, confused souls who may be considering such a dubious life choice - insultingly suggesting they receive therapy to uproot the causes of their desire to not have children. Could it be anxiety? Baggage or emotional wounds from childhood? Suggesting, of course, that the young man's choice is pathological and we need to make sure he really knows his mind and is making his decision for sound reasons and not because he's psychologically fucked up.
What I would like to see - just once - are prospective PARENTS given the same third degree as happily childfree folks. When is somebody going to question the prospective PARENT about his reasons for wanting kids? When is somebody going to ask him if he has really thought his decision through carefully, and whether he has really considered all the ramifications of his life-altering decision? When is somebody going to question his potential regrets and what "escape hatches" he might employ if he later discovers he made the wrong choice and hates being a parent? After all, unlike a childfree person who can always adopt or become a foster parent down the road if he changes his mind, parenthood is irreversible, not to mention the fact that plenty of people are not happy being parents (although parenthood-glorifying venues like The Today Show would love us to believe otherwise). In fact, The Today Show itself has run more than one spot on research showing parents are less happy and have lower levels of marital satisfaction than the childfree and yet they continue to put well-adjusted, intelligent people like Toby Byrum on the defensive for an obviously well-thought out decision that brings fulfillment and happiness to his life.
To his credit, Toby handled himself GREAT - and as a fellow happily childfree person - he makes me proud for the way he represented the childfree so intelligently and thoughtfully on that silly show. Thankfully he steered completely clear of the self-depricating and apologetic statements we've come to expect from childfree folks on the hot seat ("I'm too selfish to have kids", "I wouldn't make a good parent", "I admire people who have kids - parenthood is the best job in the world - I am just not cut out for it").
AND once again, The Today Show has disappointed me with their narrow-minded lack of imagination when it comes to any life choice outside that espoused by their target middle-American mommy homemaker audience.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
A Mom Says: It's Okay to NOT Have Children
"I'm here as a new parent to stand up for all those nonparents out there -- the ones who haven't yet made up their minds about kids and the ones who definitely have -- and proclaim that there is nothing wrong with not having children. I did it for more than three decades and led what I'd consider a pretty rich and fulfilling life, filled with learning, love, travel, adventure, laughter ... and other people's children.
You're not being selfish. Your life won't be empty. And you're certainly not destined for a sad, lonely end. People can find richness in their lives in ways that don't include progeny."
Read the whole article. It's a good read. (Thanks Angela for sharing the link on Facebook).
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Are there childfree people who grow to regret their decision? Probably, although I have yet to meet any. Are there parents who regret having kids? You may be surprised to learn that the answer is yes and because of the anonymity afforded by the internet, they are now coming out in droves to admit it and provide a support system for each other.
If you do a blog search for "I hate being a mom", you may pull up this blog in your search (thanks Evgenia for the link). This blogger posted an honest article lamenting the loss of freedom, the loss of sleep, the never-ending aggravation and fighting...the list goes on. What's more interesting than her post are the comments posted by other moms, thanking her for her honesty and adding a big "me too!" Some of these moms go as far as to state they regret having kids and wish they never gave up their childfree life. Here is a sample of some of the comments.
"I also used to be organized, focused, driven, and put together. Now, I'm on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I can hardly find time to brush my teeth. I'm disgusting and disgusted at what I have become. This isn't at all what I expected. I'm not enjoying it as much as everyone told me I would. Maybe it changes, but for now I feel really miserable and riddled with guilt for feeling this way because I do love my baby. Each day I find myself saying "God , I'm terrible at this. Why can't I get anything right with this child? Why can't I satisfy this child?" Maybe I just wasn't meant to be a mother. Maybe my previous two miscarriages were messages that I shouldn't have children."
"It's not everyday that I hate being a mother. Just most days. I realize that I did this to myself and I have to "do my time". But this is overwhelming sometimes. I feel so held back, stressed out, irritated and depressed by this whole thing. I am literally counting down the days until she leaves to go to college. 2,800 days. I feel like a person in prison. But I just want my life back. I feel wrong in a way but I really just want to be free."
"I'm a 27 year old mother of two, ages 10 months and 23 months. Most of the time I walk around in a daze, hoping people don't notice the snot wiped on my coat or the bags under my eyes. I feel ancient, decrepit, what's worse is that my husband is successful and interesting. I had ambition once to write and be taken seriously, but now I'm just useless. I have a college degree, but can't even imagine now how I would go about writing an essay, how to engage in a conversation about anything other than poop and teething.
I hate my body and I hate what I've become. I too live far from family and friends as we've relocated for my husband's career. I've no babysitter, no relatives, no one to talk to but my children who can't speak yet. I don't see any way out of this gilded cage of a life. Today, and most days, I hate being a mother... we're treated worse than animals. What will become of us?"
"I am almost always grumpy. Sometimes I close my eyes and wish that this were not my life. Often I feel like I want to run away. I get the feeling that some of my child free friends pity me. Some envy me... but I feel like taking them aside and telling them 'Don't have kids! Your life will be over!"
" Wow. Like several others who posted I googled, "I hate being a mother" and stumbled upon your blog. I feel soooo much comfort and relief hearing you all's stories. I'm a 24 year old single mother to a 2-month old and so far I hate every minute of it. I am sooo beyond depressed and feel like I am going to have a break down at any minute.
I cry everyday and my stomach is always knotted from worrying. I never in a million years imagined my life would be like this. I am a college graduate. Words can't express how much I miss my old life and wish I could go back in time. I feel like a failure and am embarassed of what I have become...a stereotype. I pray everyday for it to get better because it just seems to be getting worse. Thank you so much for this blog."
"I am relieved to have found this.I have a 10 month old daughter I have a hard time even looking at these days.I love her but I have to say I wish I had never had a baby.I am severely depressed my doctor has me on 6 different medications and I don't think they are working.I am also pregnant again with a boy that is due in 4 months and I am just sad about it.My husband works out of town 2 weeks out of the month and does not understand what I am going through.I didn't know motherhood would be like this.I miss my old life and am not adjusting to this new one.I love her I want to be a good mom but I am crying all the time and have anxiety through the roof all day about taking care of her.It's only going to get worse when the new baby comes.We did 5 years fertility treaments to have my daughter and then wham got pregnant on our own with this one so I should love her right?I don't think motherhood is for me but what else is there? I hate that I feel this way I wish I was the mom who gets up in the mornings makes breakfast with a smile and takes care of everything but I'm not.I am just lost these days."
"if i ever were to even get preg again i dont care about what i beleive in but i wouldnt go through with it becuz im sure ill end up dead. sometimes i wonder why i even thought i could do this in the first place... damn mother made it seem as if it could be done! "if i could raise 4 kids 1 is nothing" what a bunch of lies! she just wanted a grandchild."
"I never wanted children in the first place, and now because I decided to have a child instead of the alternative, I feel as if I'm being punished more and more each day.
I want to get as far away from this house, the child and my husband as I can.
I want to scream and cry and stomp and turn over the couch.
Instead, I'll just be thankful I am not alone."
"For the past 2 years since the birth of my first and only child I have been in a constant state of depression. I do believe that I was never meant to have children and that it's a great tragedy that I realized it too late. I love my son. I do. Unfortunately that doesnt stop me from wishing on a daily basis that I could go back and undo the last 2 years or so of my life. I hate being a mom. I loathe being a mom. I hate that i can't take a shower when I want. That i can't go out with my friends when I want. That going shopping is a mission that sucks the life right out of me. I hate that he screams about everything. I hate that he destroys everything I try to achieve. I had almost found an outlet of sorts for myself by going to the gym 5 days a week and leaving him in the kids club there. He managed to take that from me as well because he can't be civil around other children evidently. I have nothing now except for the endless days of screaming and crying while I watch my life waste away. I know it was my choice to have a kid but despite everything I have tried to make him happy I have failed at every turn. Motherhood has been the worst experience of my life and I can't do anything about it. There has not been one day since he was born that i thought "wow this is awesome. I am so happy your my son.". Everyday is misserable and I can't wait until its over. I was beautiful and skinny once and no matter how hard I try I will never have that back either. The worst part is that i love him enough to feel guilty for feeling this way so that overlaps everything else and it's a viscious cyle of regret. My husband wants another one and I can't bring myself to tell him 'no'. The thought of having this feeling doubled is enough to make me want to pitch myself off of the balcony. I feel genuine sorrow for other people about to have baby's because there is nothing enjoyable about it. It will take everything from you. Everything you loved about life and enjoyed will be gone. Thats what I think when I look at expecting mothers."
"I feel the way most of you have expressed....I'm just so incredibly depressed...I can't stand my life..I'm a single mother of a 2 12 year old..I am on benefits and I live with my parents.My life's a mess,my clothes are in a pile,I'm over weight,spend excessively to compensate for my misery which in turn leaves us broke the following week.Ive just started Uni doing a bachelors degree-but Do you think I can get any work done..NO I can't Im so consumed with self hate and worthlessness.I never thought I would end up like this..fat ugly alone with a child.She constantly shouts-and tells the whole family to SHUT UP -I never say this to her EVER...she doesn't listen to a thing I say,doesn't respond to any punishment at all....I just want to run away and leaver this fkn life behind,,but My conscience won't let me..No one gets it Except for you guys) My mother doesn't understand the feeling I have-I'm so afraid to be alone and NOW she has decided they might move so Ill be left alone ,,,I'm so intelligent when it comes to being positive,reading,self help..YES i know all that but it doesn't fucking help...I used to be so different..I feel I have lost all Love -Im just numb to everything-I don't have any passion at all left in my body...And yet I feel so guilty as there are people going through way worse...If I knew it was going to be this hard I wouldn't have gone there..He begged me to have an abortion,Men have it so easy,,no attachment at all..OH the joys of being a MAN..fuck this."
"I'm going to talk to my doctor today and see if there's anything wrong with me. Because I'm sad every day, stressed every day, anxious everyday and dare I say scared. When I hit my breaking point I have had thoughts of harm, and I never used to be like this!! I hate it, hate it so much. I love my son to death, and get cuteness overload from him on good days, but it's just not enough to make me love this "job"
I want to feel normal, happy and healthy, and I want to like who I am inside and out. Maybe I never should have gotten into this, sometimes I think maybe this life of a mother wasn't meant for me?"
Having read all these comments, I decided to do a little more searching on the internet and within seconds found many, many more regretful parents complaining bitterly about their lives and wishing they never had kids.
"I wish I had never had children, it ruined my health immediately and my sanity eventually, and my finances continuously. My child tore up and destroyed my belongings and ruined my relationships. My mother was ever-present and if I had never had children I could have escaped her grasping possessive control many many years ago. My son now lives over three hours away and has recently married, much to my great relief because now he has someone else with which to converse besides me, as I am not particularly interested in anything he has to say. My new daughter-in-law is a sweet girl and I pray they stay together forever, because if he is busy doing things with HER, he won't bother ME. I was trapped in suburbia for many years, while I yearned to live in the city, close to my job, because it was deemed 'safer' to raise children in the suburbs, than in the city. I regret so many, many years and opportunities taken from me, all because I "wanted" a child. Well - be careful what you wish for, because when you get it, it will never, ever, ever, ever go away and leave you alone to sip wine and read a good book uninterrupted, in fact you will not even be able to have good sex whenever you want, because "the children might hear". It's absolutely ridiculous, the way they suck the life right out of you. I am more fortunate than some, however. I only had one, and I had him early in life, so that when I was (legally) able to throw him out of the house and reclaim my life, there was still enough "life" left in me to actually enjoy myself for awhile, before old age and ill health and fixed income becomes problematic. The ones with two, three, even FOUR children? They will never again see the light of day. Their sentence is long and their life is over. At least, that's the way it looks to ME." ______________________________________________
" I never tell [my 3 kids] that everyday I feel like a light is going out and I miss me. I am soooo tired and depressed all the time. Oh yes but I smile and bid my jail sentence. Take my kids to all their activities tell them that they are precious, beautiful, and they are my little miracles. So at least they are happy right. I never tell anyone and I lie about the joys of motherhood just like I'm supposed. I cry everyday alone in silence. They do ballet,swim classes, I teach them they go to school and etc. Everybody points out how beautiful and wonderful they are and blah, blah, blah. If I could caution any young women who is not sure I would. I wouldn't want to give my sorry existence to my worst enemy."
"I have 2 kids. I am so sick of everyone saying how precious this time is and how they grow up so fast. I feel that they can't grow up fast enough. I also have thought that other moms must be lying or fooling themselves when they say that parenthood is the best thing. I am uncomfortable talking with other parents because I am not good at lying or being fake and feel that it is obvious how much I hate being a mom. I also love my husband and long for the good old days when it was just the two of us, independent, free, and enjoying eachother. Now we have such a practical/functional relationship...just getting this one fed, this diaper changed, this one to the doctor..... What were we thinking? Why did we believe all the crap about babies being a "bundle of joy"? I agree with the above post on motherhood being a chore, no real joy in it. I keep them fed, cared for, and even try to do fun things with them, like go to the park or library. But, all the while I am out with them, I am wishing I could be doing one friggin thing that I want to do. I am so sick of the stupid kids section of the library..I want to take a nice walk through the park, not push a stupid swing 50 times. I have never felt so trapped, hopeless, unhappy (even when I was in a horrible work situation and got laid off). I feel hopeless because this situation is not going to change for a long time...I am not going to wake up tomorrow and my kids will be 18 years old no longer my responsibility. I wish I had heard from people like those on this site, or anyone else regretting children, before having them. Now, all I can do is be brutally honest about how much having kids really sucks, if anyone wants to hear my perspective...perhaps someone else will make a better choice for themselves."
"I have totally ruined my life. I love my daughter so much, but can't handle her illness any more. I have given up my life to look after her - she is 24, and has been sick now for eighteen years. Doctors have given me no answers, and no one knows what to do for her. She continues to be sick or get worse, no matter what we do. It is wearing me down, and I am depressed and crying all the time. My life is gone. I have no life. I have to watch her suffer each and every day, with no hope of a normal life. If only I had never had her, I could have a normal life and really enjoy each and every day, not endure total despair. I don't even want to wake up in the morning, as there is nothing to look forward to. This is not her fault - she did not ask for this illness. But I still wish I never considered having kids - my life is totally ruined."
"I spent my youth raising my 3 children. I have driven so many miles to soccer and basketball and football and cheerleading and plays and on and on. I volunteered at the school. I was a brownie troop leader. I read to my kids and made sure they got their shots and visits to the dentist. I took them to church and participated in their lives. They are all in their 40's. I live alone. I have not seen my kids in over 3 years. Two of them live on the opposite side of the country. My daughter has not visited me in over 10 years. If I call her I get voice mail and she may call back and she may not. My youngest got drunk and screamed at me (he's 41) and now does not speak to me. My oldest is the only one with children. He can take them to Germany and Spain and France and Chili and Disneyworld but he has not brought them to see me in 5 years. I have spent the last 15 Christmases, Thanksgivings and birthdays alone. The only time I have felt welcome at his home was when my first grandchild was born. My grandchildren are young teens and I have seen them 6 times. I am older and alone. I live on a fixed income and am not in good health and no one has my back. If I had not had children, I would have had a life and made provisions for being alone in my old age. Now, all I have to look forward to is death. And I will probably be dead days before anyone notices. Maybe if I don't show up for church two Sundays in a row someone might question."
"I unfortunately love my children but absolutely regret ever having them! Like my headline says, How Can I Feel This Way??? Now not only do I regret it, I have come to the point I don't like kids at all! I know I shouldn't feel this way and just don't know how to get over feeling this way when I mourn over my very broken family all of the time and breaks my heart to be in such a lonely and and difficult situation."
" I got pregnant and had the baby against my better judgement. I was depressed and continued to be depressed (fell deeper into it) and thought I'd make a terrible mom. Sure I'm responsible enough to take good care of my kids (2) but there is no joy in it. I really don't enjoy spending time with them. I feed and clothe them, teach them and keep them safe, and try to make them happy but I'm not happy. I wish so badly I hadn't had kids. I think my kids could do much worse, but they could do much better too. I wish I could be single again and not have kids so I could just get a divorce once and for all and be free. I hate this feeling, I feel guilty all the time. I wish I felt like a mother should but even though I love them, I think they would be better off not having me as a mother.
I am only posting this story because it is SO taboo and I hope someone reading it and can relate to it might not feel so alone. "
"I wish I had reconsidered having kids. I love my kids dearly but miss being me. My husband has happily lumped me into the identity of "wifenkids". Romance is gone. I HATE it. HATE IT HATE IT. There's my childhood tantrum. My entire 20s have been occupied as someone's "mom" and "wife". I don't feel fun and sexy and free and I miss those things. Love my kids but they deserved better as a mom and I deserved to be happy. It just is a bummer for everyone. I resent my husband a lot since he has the sexist idea that all women LIVE for motherhood. "
"I regret my decision to have a child as well. My daughter is beautiful and lovable. It is not her at all. I just hate my life. I hate the loss of freedom. I am completely bored by the kiddie playgroups, parties and just the repetitiveness of it all. I miss my job and I feel like a prisoner of my house. I resent my husband even though I agreed to have a child, I was only about 50% for the idea. I guess I was afraid I was missing out on an important part of life. I wish there was something I could do to create some enthusiasm because motherhood is going to be my main role for a very long time."
"Hmm...I don't know if having kids was the right thing to do. I love my kids and am proud of each of them. However, since I raised all 4 of them on my own...without family, friends, or any help from my ex-husband...I am the one that is LEFT ALL ALONE. I deliberately centered all of my work and activities around the kids...and wanted to be the best mom that i could be...in spite of our circumstances. I bought a house, went to work, cleaned the house and spent every night at home with my kids...cooking and doing homework with them. I rarely went out with friends, with the exception of outings with other mothers with their own brood.
Each child has grown into a well adjusted and accomplished person. However, what do I get in return? NOTHING! My daughters rarely call, my sons keep advising me to move to a warmer climate nearer my brothers...and hardly ever make time for even a 10 minute phone call to me. Sometimes, I lay in bed at night...alone, without a lover/husband/boyfriend...and am glad that the kids are doing well...but it was all at a great price. What price? For me its, financial struggles, low pension benefits, and a broken down body to match. If only my KIDS would take a bit of time out to visit with me...it might have been worth it. Unfortunately, they take me for granted and always assume that since I was so independent while raising them...that they don't need to take time out to be with me. I don't want that much time...just a bit of consideration!
I have friends, and a job. This is the reality of having kids sometimes. Its worthwhile for your kids...but not so much for the mother!"
"I sympathize with everyone here. It is a terrible terrible realization to have that while you love you kids you hate, hate, hate, HATE, the role of being a parent. I wish I had never had kids. The loss of freedom is tough, but many here have said it really well: it is the loss of yourself that burns your soul to ashes."
"All you childfree ladies if your man wants a kid run a mile as they are definetly not worth it!!!"
"Not all of us were aware of the negatives as society as a whole makes motherhood seem like the only valuable rewarding job on earth!!!! If all the crap was actually shown how it is people would be more aware of how it actually changes your life!!!! It's the dirtiest least rewarding job of all. I love my daughter but I certainly don't find my role rewarding like it is meant to be according to society. Now she is 7 I just can't wait till she is in her 20's and old enough to look after herself, and she herself doesn't like babies and she hates playing with baby dolls so I hope she grows up not having children as I do not want to be a grandma ever!!!! "
"I too, wish I did not have a child. My infant daughter sucks the life out of me. Every day, I long to go back to the way my life was pre-baby. I traveled around the world, dined out in peace several times a week with my husband, and was all-around happy with my life. Now, my day consists of changing poopy diapers, washing bottles, feedings, getting throwed up on and screaming sessions. Then, this same routine just repeats, day after day. I don't travel anymore. When my husband and I go out to eat, it ends up being a nightmare and not worth the effort. I miss being able to hop in the car and see a movie with the hubby and staying out late enjoying ourselves. I am now a shell of the person I once was. I am not happy at all. I don't have any love for my daughter and I don't enjoy spending time with her AT ALL. And actually, I don't think she enjoys being with me the slightest, either. She completely annoys me, and I count down the moments until my husband gets home so I can pawn her off on him and get a break. I am lucky to have 20 minutes to myself to sit down and eat something, and relax. Some days I wish I could just adopt her out to someone who would love her, but I have too much pressure on me from family to keep her. My marriage is declining and the relationship with my husband has gotten much worse since the baby was born. I truly just despise the kid. She has ruined my happy life. If I would have known what my life would turn into after having her, I would have NEVER, EVER, EVER had children. Believe me, I will NOT have another one! I just wish I could turn back the hands of time and never had a child to begin with...."
"I wish I had never had kids. I was always getting "pressured" about when I was going to have a kid. Oh they are so much fun they say, and you will be so excited when the baby comes along. Bull. All I can tell people is mind your own freaking business. I envy my friends who are still single at 25 and have no kids or for that matter are not even married. My daughter is 9 months old and the biggest headache I have ever had. I got married at 19, big mistake, and now I have a child. There is nothing romantic about the notion of being a mom. You basically do everything for that child and have no freaking time for yourself. My sister who is 18 wants to get married to her boyfriend and I am trying to deter her from getting married so young and wait until she is the minimum age of 30. Why didn't anyone warn me?Why couldn't the older women stop with the illusion that being married and being a mom is the greatest thing on earth? If you do not have kids and you are reading this then I urge you to really think about the decision because it is a lifelong commitment and it is a lot of hard work. Most moms would say oh it is wonderful because you get such joy out of it. I don't!! It is a lie, lie, lie . .don't ever let anyone put pressure on you to have a child . .if they do tell them to shove it where the sun don't shine . .it is your life and you live it the way you want to. I am being honest and I am not going to lie about it . .I know now that I will never ever have another kid."
"I agree with a previous poster that society leads you to believe that having children is the most wonderful thing in the world. I love my kids (most of the time), but if I knew then what I know now, I would have gotten a puppy!"
i'll try to be more logical, so others get something out of this rather than my raving. since i was 14 i said i didn't want children. my husband accepted that, but i still knew he would like them if possible. then my brother died when i was in my late thirties. he'd had 4 kids (mad). it made me wonder what i'd regret if i died early.
I soul-searched a lot and decided that, later in life, i might regret not having children . what a ridiculous thing. i asked myself 'might i regret not having children' and answered 'yes'. i didn't ask myself if i wanted them!! I ASKED THE WRONG QUESTION. my stupidity now seems unfathomable. if only i'd read this website, or susan jeffer's book 'freeing ourselves from the mad myths of parenthood' (sometimes called 'i'm ok ...you're a brat'). for nearly 25 years i knew i didn't want to have kids then i changed my mind because of a possible worry about a possible future feeling. WHAT AN IDIOT!! ...
anyway, now i am a full-time parent and i hate it. my problems with depression and stress made it difficult for me to hold a job before i had kids,and it is harder now - it would just increase the stress i have to cope with. the drudgery of everyday life is debilitating, the boredom of school and kinder drop-offs is numbing, and the noise the kids make is drowning my brain. i am so at the end of my tether that i tell them i hate them, and it's a horrible thing to do. they also know i love them and i do often feel flooding feelings of love for them, especially when they are quiet and ready for bed!! but the overall feeling is regret and hatred, of myself and them.
typing this made me realise how much i hate and blame myself for my stupid decision. but, come on, it it the biggest stupid decision you can ever make!! it's pretty much the only decision in life that you can't get out of somehow. that's what i find hardest - that there is no way out. and as time goes on it gets harder, not easier.
anyhow, thanks for listening, and allowing me to not feel so alone. now all we need is a magic 'turn-back-time' potion and i'd be banging on the door to be first in line! "
"I absolutely regret having my son. I love him, and want him to fare well in life, but if I had to do it over again I wouldn't. At least not as a single parent with a non-supportive 'baby daddy'. That has no doubt added to the bitterness. I know such feelings are not healthy but they are what they are and I can't help how I feel. I'm glad there is a forum for us 'regretters' to vent...lord knows you can't speak about such things among friends or family (though I wonder how many of them secretly regret their kids?). Anyway...my son has been a struggle from say age 2 to the present (he's currently 18, lazy, unmotivated, jobless, drama king, general pain in the (__)__) He can be sweet and sensitive too, but mostly he's a burden. He even says from time-to-time "I wish I was still 8" or "I don't want to grow up". Damned if I'll have him living with me til he's 30! (which seems to be the trend these days). For any ladies who are childless out there, stay that way! The world is in such turmoil now anyway it's not a good idea to bring children into it especially if you really love them. "
"We tried to stay together but having kids ruined our relationship. Id on't blame the kids, they are just kids. But our relationship went from romance and long walks and breakfast in bed to screaming and yelling at each other. I was so exhausted I didn't feel human for years. Oh and all those people who told me motherhood was so wonderful turned right around after they were born and said 'Oh yeah, that part is horrible, that part is also horrible' and no one tells you the truth until you are in the Mothers Club. And no one wants to babysit your kids, let's just put that out there. Thank God for my parents for being there because my so called friends were all too busy to help out."
"I HATE how your own preferences have to be subordinate to those of a selfish, irrational person ALL THE TIME. And now I feel worse reading these posts because it's not just because my kids are young. I have no reason to think that it will get better. I fantasise about suicide, but never would because I love my husband and would never do that to him. But there is no way to escape. There is no way to make myself happy again. I wish I had never had kids. I love them (it would be easier if I didn't care). I love them so much. I wish I could be a better mother for them. I can't imagine how I am fucking them up."
"Do I "love my kids"?, yes....do like being a mom?...absolutely not!! If you have ANY reservations or questions about whether you should have kids or not...that is a clear sign that you should NOT. Unless you want your whole life to be about nothing but your kids...and don't care at all about your independence, identity, freedom, and your body (flabby belly and boobs, loss of urinary continence)...then go ahead...loose your life to the "bundle of joy"". I have found it to be a bundle of hell, pain, monotony...nothing joyful about it. I wish I never had children!"
"I am a smart woman and could have done anything I set my mind to, but my sole focus was to have children and a husband. Now that I have everything I always hoped for I regret my narrow-minded goals. I love my kids, of course, but it feels like I'm living through this torture chamber called parenthood...
If I had a crystal ball and could have seen how our life would have been, I truly think I would have taken a different path than parenthood. None of the good times balances out with the crap that goes on daily in my house. There are only so many memories that can buoy you up." ________________________________________
This has been a long blog post and I could have posted even more comments, but I don't want to strain my readers' eyes further. The point of cutting and pasting all of these comments here is to put an end to the myth that a childfree life is rife with regret, yet parents never regret having kids. I also want to convey a message that rarely (if ever) gets conveyed to those contemplating a life free of children: don't avoid the childfree life out of fear of regret. Every life choice involves the sacrifice of other potential life choices, and all choices can result in regret, including the choice to become a parent (as illustrated by these numerous posts from regretful parents). The difference is, the choice to become a parent is irreversible and it is far worse to regret having kids than not having them.
If you are still worried about eventual childfree regret, I challenge you to search the internet to see how many posts you can find from people who regret being childfree. If you find any at all, see if you can find posts that are as bitter, angry and filled with intense regret for a life lost, as we see here with the posts from our regretful parents. I doubt you will find many at all. But go ahead...try to prove me wrong.
If you'd like to read more from regretful parents, click here.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Hey Scaredy Cat
I found it quite telling that fear of childbirth is a labeled as a "harrowing condition" according to the British Journal of Psychiatry.
I don't know about you, but to me, it seems completely rational for a woman to have a pronounced fear of a traumatic event that causes extreme and prolonged pain, can involve possible slicing and dicing of her most private body parts, total loss of control over bodily functions, permanent undesirable body changes, and in some cases death. Given this, it would seem to me that not fearing childbirth would be indicative of some type of psychological disorder that should raise concern, but what do I know?
N eloquently expressed her disdain in her email to me:
That's the part that really irritates me - the idea of the desire for children as the ONLY normal feeling we're allowed to have about children and child birth. Of course, a male can be hesitant or scared or not welcoming of a pregnancy, and that's cute how he's trying to hold onto his freedom (how many romantic comedies have you seen where the girl has to 'raise' the male lead to be an adult?), but for a woman it's always been 'unnatural' to feel that way, and now, it's a disorder.
I just wish women were allowed to make decisions about their own body without the entire world having an opinion on if it's right or wrong or not."
Sunday, January 9, 2011
One More Reason (not to have kids)
Joey was the beloved pet of my best friend Sara. They've had Joey for about 8 or 9 years, but sadly, their son developed terrible allergies and the doctor informed them that Joey was the main cause of said allergies and insisted that Sara find another home for the adorable moggie. Sara resisted for awhile, but on a recent visit to the doctor's office, he got more stern with her that Joey MUST GO.
So here she is, living with us, and Sara is brokenhearted. Of course, she's happy that she found a great home for Joey and she's admitted to me that Joey will get much more attention in our home since we don't have kids and have more attention to give. And we're happy to give it.
It just goes to show that the reasons to NOT have kids are never-ending. If Sara had never had kids, she would never have had to give up this precious creature.
Oh well. Their loss is our gain.