"The Last Day Of My Life Was The Day Before My Son Was Born." Mothers With Regrets Or How Parenting Is Not For Everyone
Not only women are led to start the family from an early age . Apparently, only then will their life be complete. But that may not be true. These are the stories of parents who regret the decision to have children.
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"I regret having children."
Even ten years ago, a parent would probably not say such a sentence out loud. However, as times progress, society develops and stereotypes break, there are more and more people who are not afraid to say their feelings out loud. It is hammered into our heads from an early age that every woman should have children, that children are the meaning of life and no family can function without them. But that's not the case. Some people are not built for parenting and we bring you their stories.
Women are destined for motherhood. Not at all
Even little girls are given toys in the form of babies, which they can take care of, comb, change their diapers or carry in a stroller. Most girls are brought up with the feeling that starting a family is the meaning of their lives. That a functioning family cannot exist without children. That not having children is selfish. It is therefore not surprising that, even if women do not feel like it, they have children under the pressure of society or loved ones.
In recent years, the topic of life without children has come more and more to the fore, and in addition to those who chose not to have children, there are also voices of people who regret the decision to have them. The British market research firm YouGov found in 2021 that 8% of parents regret having children to a greater or lesser extent.
"I lived with the idea that one should have children. My mother wanted grandchildren, she kept asking about them, no one in the family was childless, so I perceived it as the norm. But I was never crazy about children, I had no desire to take care of other people's children, I didn't look into other people's strollers, but I felt that everyone should have children. Back then, 10 years ago, there were not many voices saying that parenting is not necessary," Aneta, a mother of two, told REFRESHER.
"I regretted the decision to have children as soon as I found out I was pregnant. I have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome, the cause of which can be infertility - editor's note) and the doctor told me that my health condition does not allow natural conception. So I never operated with the idea that it could ever be different. But then I got pregnant. My partner and I took it as if the universe was telling us something when I got pregnant despite all the problems, and we therefore did not discuss whether we wanted a child at all. In retrospect, I know that we should have," Lucie says on the topic.
Not having children is not selfish. Let's learn to respect the decisions of others
There are more and more people who, for various reasons, decide to live without children. They often face accusations that they are selfish, that they don't want to share their time and their money. Even if it was the case, would it really be that bad? We also often encounter the indiscriminate assessment of women that they "don't want to destroy their bodies". But are we sufficiently informed about how fundamentally pregnancy can change a woman's body and what invisible health risks or discomforts it leaves behind? In short, no one has the obligation to have children. Risking physical and mental trauma and being responsible for someone else's life for at least 18 years is not an easy task and no one should force us to take it on.
Every time I went for a check-up, I was happy that everything was fine, and at the same time I thought that if I miscarried, maybe I would be relieved.
The public could use more understanding. Not everyone aspires to become a parent, nor is the child is the centre of the universe for everyone. And we must respect such a decision. "I only understood the feelings I'm experiencing after two years of therapy and I'm only now able to talk about them. I never thought that having children was the highlight of my life... My husband knows this, we talk a lot about such things and we agree that if we didn't have children, it wouldn't be the end of our relationship and life. We would do what we did until then," Klara, the mother of an almost five-year-old child, told us.
"I think a lot of parents simply lie to their children because they lie to themselves. That giving birth was the most beautiful day. That having children is the best. That that is a kind of fulfillment in life. We have made parenting the only socially correct narrative and we are consistently silencing women who feel differently. It is perceived as blasphemy, as if a child is some kind of gift from heaven that cannot be refused. And it really isn't like that. It does absolutely nothing for me personally," says Romana, a single mother.
In addition, other reasons can also lead to the decision not to have children, such as uncertainty about the future and climate change. "As a pessimistic person, I feel that I did not bring the children into the best world. The climate crisis is accelerating, everywhere we hear forecasts of what will happen, how everything will change negatively, including covid, war, uncertainty about the future... I wonder if it is responsible to bring children into a world that will be completely terrible in 30 years. I'm afraid of what will happen, I don't feel great about it," Aneta confided her fears to us.
The moment I realised I regretted it
During emotional conversations with women who regret their decision to have children, we also talked about when they first became aware of these feelings.
"It wasn't one big moment of enlightenment, more a gradual awareness of my feelings. It dawned on me that I had lost my freedom. Like having your hand chained to a bench and hearing from those around you that it's so right and that I should be happy that someone will never experience this and would like so much. But I have the right to my feelings and I have no responsibility at all for the lives of other people, for their desires and decisions" said Romana, a single mother.
Klara, who conceived thanks to assisted reproduction, feels the same way. "I started to realise these feelings gradually. It is like, if I have to do something, I'll do it, so I take care of my child as best as I can. But I wouldn't mind if it wasn't here. If I gave it to someone else. It's terrible that I said it out loud. The last day of my life was the day before my son's birth," she confided to us.
However, the other women who shared their story with us knew from the beginning that motherhood was not for them. "Pregnancy was already hell for me but I was still waiting for the rush of happiness to come. But it wasn't coming. Not even the "madly in love with my child" came… It sounds like blasphemy. Because of this, I also visited Dr. Šebela in the ER, to whom I told him that I would of course take care of the little one, but it does not fulfil me," Lucie described to REFRESHER.
To lose your life
Women who regret their decision most often agree that their life will never be the same again. Paradoxically, the lives of their husbands and partners have not changed much. It is women who mostly stay at home with their children and who can no longer devote themselves to a career or social life.
Motherhood limits me, it's demanding and underappreciated work. I do a lot of invisible work that no one appreciates, I try but it's never enough.
“My freedom is gone. I can't come home two hours late anymore, I can't do what I want... I am subordinate to the child all day so that it won't die, and from day to day I turned into a mother who didn't care about everyone," said Klara.
Lucie was aware of these changes early in her pregnancy, and more than once she even thought about having an abortion. "I thought about it many times, but I think I would break my partner's heart. Every time I went for a check-up, I was glad that everything was fine, and at the same time I thought to myself that if I had a spontaneous abortion, maybe I would be relieved," she confided to us with a thought she never said out loud. "During my pregnancy, everyone started to perceive me only as the mother. My God, I'm smart, knowledgeable, I speak at prestigious conferences, but now I'm just a mother? Four weeks after the baby was born, I went back to school to invite my family to graduation. I don't want to be just a mother," Lucie describes.
Even Aneta, who has two children, does not love the role of a mother. "I love my children, but the role of a parent is not my own, I don't feel good in it and I don't handle it well. Motherhood limits me, it's demanding and underappreciated work. I do a lot of invisible work that no one appreciates, I try but it's never enough. The demands of motherhood are high. You are expected to be patient, to always be there for the kids, but I can't handle it. Then I feel even worse and I feel that I am completely incapable and it would be better if I didn't have children," says Aneta.
Romana always wanted children, and when she finally had one, she realized that it wasn't what she wanted from life. "I regret becoming a mother. I don't like the things around motherhood. Having to see other parents, hearing about their children, constantly dealing with educational institutions, encountering the antediluvian system that obligatorily teaches apathy, selfishness, hierarchy and is horribly hypocritical, and then the routine of everyday life. The huge load of duties for which there is no time for anything else," she concluded our conversation.
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