At some stage (usually day #11 of the newborn stage), at some time (anytime), every mother – no matter how much she wanted to be a mother, no matter how much she loves being a mother, no matter – will regret having kids.
I mean, she might not want to admit that out loud. Or, like me, she might joke about it in a ha, ha, ha, ha sob kind of way. Or she might have buried it deep down where even she fears to go. But, I promise you, it’s there.
It comforts me a great deal to know that it’s there. Before I worked out that every single one of us feels this way sometimes, I used to think that mums who regret having kids were terrible, awful, unfit mothers. They were the kind of mums who didn’t deserve their kids in the first place. They were selfish. They were shameful. They were evil.
Now I know they’re just mums.
Which is a very good thing indeed, because I happen to know that I’m not terrible, awful, unfit, selfish, shameful or evil. I’m just a mum who sometimes finds motherhood deeply regrettable.
To occasionally* regret having kids, to regret the massive lifestyle change we opted in for, well that seems reasonable. I think it might even be a little bit healthy to feel that way sometimes.
Having kids changes everything. The way you feel about yourself, your partner, your friends, your parents, your siblings, your place in society, society itself, past choices, future choices, prospects… everything.
Threading together the us from before with the us that is now takes a very long time. Longer than our children’s childhood. Longer even than that.
So, it seems quite natural to sometimes wonder what might have been if our choices had been different. Especially when we’ve been parenting hard for weeks on end and we’re just so bullshit tired we could scream (and probably do).
Or we’re lying awake with the worrying night after night, crushed by our need to get it right. To raise our kids right. To give them all the opportunities and dreams and experiences and wonder that they need, wish, want, expect, deserve.
“I wish I was single,” we might think on a bad day.
Or “I wish I was married without children,” we might think on a good one.
We are momentarily taken by the idea of what might have been. If we were the sole beneficiary of all our worrying and wanting. If it was me, and only me, me, me, who consumed our every waking moment. If we dedicated our lives to lifting ourselves up the way we lift up our children.
Oh. What might have been. Oh.
“I wish I could just run away right now, I wish I was me at 20-years-old without a care in the world, I wish I didn’t have to, I wish I wasn’t a mother, I do.”
These feelings are quickly squashed. Banged flat by the vast emptiness that instantly engulfs us. Squashed so quickly we’ve barely thought the thought at all.
But I want you to know that the thought was there. Fleeting, ephemeral, whispering, but there.
We all think it sometimes. We all regret having our kids sometimes. It’s just the way it is.
* I mean, not every day. If you feel like this every day, you do need to go talk to someone because that is most definitely not a good way to feel at all. Please, go talk to someone you trust or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Image by Tyler McRobert