What if I regret motherhood?

Most of her co-workers don’t even know that Karen (50) has a son. Her friends think that he is somewhere on the other side of the world. Only a few close people know her secret and know that her 25-year-old son, Thomas, is not a part of her life. Behind the facade of her bourgeois existence, the many cracks in her life can go unnoticed for a long time: the maternal depression she had given birth to, the depression afterward, her absent husband, her divorce when Thomas was thirteen … and now, the quarrel between mother and child.

“Thomas and I were equal. He was good-looking, funny, the best in class, the perfect son. When he started to feel less healthy, I thought it was because of puberty. Every teenager goes through a crisis. But when my mother died suddenly, our relationship deteriorated even more. He spoiled meals , and made me feel guilty the whole time… When he was eighteen he went to live with his father, who was an expatriate in China. I must say this relieved me. I moved and started living in rooms as a student. When he came back a year later, he was gone.”

Read also: 33% of parental leave is taken by men.

Fear of being prosecuted

After five years of agonizing radio silence, a private investigator discovers his address. “Today we see each other only superficially and occasionally. That bourgeois dogma of being a good wife and a good mother has ruined my life and my career. Motherhood has become such a painful story that I regret being a mother. But I don’t say it out loud for fear of being judged. on me
has become. After all, who will understand me? “

The realization that she would prefer not to have a child tears her apart. How difficult it is to deny the beauty of motherhood. Or it has to be with humor, as Corinne Meyer did in 2007 with a bestseller no child, where she lists 40 reasons not to have children and advocates for women who would rather not become a mother. “Since then, a lot of comedians have focused on this topic,” she says. A new generation of young women is also indicating that they do not want children because of the climate crisis. The idea became mainstream.

But the next step – expressing regret to yourself or those around you, because you once had a child – remains completely taboo. By the way, feminist sociologist Orna Donath’s book elicited very few reactions from us.” Mayer points to the Israeli researcher’s study “Regretting Motherhood,” a sociopolitical analysis, in which she collected the testimonies of 23 mothers aged 25 to 75 who admitted remorse On Motherhood in 2015. The article was met with a wall of misunderstanding in many countries and debates heated up.In Israel, Donath is now seen as the woman who “challenges the general social consensus that women should become a mother.”

Read also: French startup develops saliva test for rapid detection of endometriosis

no arguing

“Over the years, I have attended hundreds of debates around the world, with reactions that ranged from relief to disdain,” said Donath from Tel Aviv, where she studies. An important development given the taboo and its condemnation. Israeli women, like many other women elsewhere, expressed very different feelings about this. Ranging from anger and denial to gratitude and relief.” asked Stephanie Thomas, author of Why No Debate Here Mal de MersAnd he went to investigate.

“I wanted to know who those women were who could look me straight in the eye and say, ‘Yeah, I’m sorry I had a baby, and if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have had one.'” Every story is different, but everyone admits they were wrong. Some find out when the baby is getting older, while others find out when their newborn is in their arms. But make no mistake, the regret they express has nothing to do with the baby blues or postpartum depression. Their regret is a deep realization. It’s confessing to yourself that you’d rather not have this little creature next to you and that you’d rather not know it or know it so that you’d still be the woman you were before.”

They are not bad mothers

Women who can’t be happy about motherhood—a task that seems too big and too stressful for them—are not bad or absent-minded. They are often very involved, yet fail to let go of their previous lives. In the notebook you go to
The 8-year-old daughter of Marie wrote, Sonya carefully pasted her drawings. All the early drawings depict fat women gently embracing their children: “That this little miracle of motherhood was so full of evidence that she experienced it in her early childhood.”

Only when Sonya and her husband abandoned the idea of ​​having children, it suddenly turned out that she was pregnant. She was 43 years old at that time, a famous architect, who decided to devote herself exclusively to her daughter for 18 months. “It was only when I had to travel for work that I stopped breastfeeding,” she says. “When I came back, I consciously created a small distance between her and me. My problem is that I’m always on the defensive, due to the challenges of my profession, and that I’m passionate about literature, art, urban planning and gardens…but if you want to do everything right, you lock yourself into it. I did everything to be able to integrate it, but if I had to do it again, I would not have a child. It is a turning point in a life that was already very rich. Raising a child is very difficult. In addition, having a child may be later than Life is more mentally challenging than when I was younger, and you may be more aware of the responsibility you take on.”

Read also: Half of the women who exercise have sore breasts because of a bad bra.

big taboo

Maternity isn’t for everyone, but it shouldn’t be stated. According to Orna Donath, regretting motherhood remains taboo because it challenges some of the basic values ​​upon which our society is built today: “It proves that not everyone sees motherhood as a valuable experience, despite the many incentives to persuade women to do so. It reminds us that motherhood is a relationship, not an experience. Mythical.So like all relationships, it can be a source of joy and love, as well as boredom, hate, jealousy, anger, and yes, regret.Furthermore, the sign of a patriarchal society is that a woman is able to evaluate her life, shape it, think for themselves, feel things and make their own decisions. Ultimate special.”

As an advisor in the Ministerial Cabinet, Maker Michelle, a podcast for Free Women and a mother of three, Marie Pettiquino is still finding the time to write a book on the topic. her message? Let’s stop passing the pink cloud illusion from mother to daughter. “Motherhood is a normal experience and something that turns your entire life upside down as you discover that you have become estranged from yourself,” she says. “I was also with the idea of ​​a perfect mother, I had no idea I was on my side
The child will need other things.

Father’s role

In all of this it is important that men take on the role of father better and that we pay more attention to what the pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott says good mother enough referred. Because if today’s young mother does not exaggerate the love of her child and
She regrets that she had to give up her previous life, it seems that she will never be able to love her child again unconditionally. That’s not the kind of motherhood I want to embody.”

Natalie Burruss can totally get into it. As a journalist, she herself spoke to a lot of women when writing her book on single mothers – she herself. “I’ve heard unspoken regrets from many single mothers. When you’re raising a child on your own, you’re afraid of it.”
You will fail and feel so guilty that your child can’t understand this feeling unless you stop yourself from talking about it. Unfortunately, there are no statistics on single mothers from urban environments and from social classes and higher professions such as
I am but about young women living alone in the countryside, unemployed and fighting poverty. And if you’re rolling from one thing to the next, it’s best not to deviate from your path as a mother. During their testimonies, I could hear how important it was for them to be able to tell their story. But then of course their voice should also be heard…”

mother monster

As a spectator, it is really tempting to dismiss such testimonies as selfish – or even sinister or downright brutal. But according to clinical psychologist Adele Asos, there is no such thing as a wild mother. “We find the idea of ​​a mother regretting her motherhood privately unbearable because deep down we all feel the fear of being such a child: a source of regret,” she says, pressing a painful wound. She also hears the same maternity regret during her child psychiatry consultations, as parents face the difficulties their child is facing. Often painful stories. “A lot of them are disappointed that there is no turning back; being a mother is irreversible. But are they the only ones experiencing those feelings? I miss the voice of fathers in all of this. I hear women say, ‘I always knew I wasn’t ready to have a baby, and my husband Well, it wasn’t really…” But under social and family pressure, men often break promises in their relationship, letting mothers take responsibility. We can’t acknowledge the bravery enough of these mothers.

We still remember the unforgettable interview with Axelle Red about Squad Mothers in humor in 2008. Expressions of vulnerability that rarely occur in the spotlight. It will be some time before the #MeToo taboo of motherhood turns the world upside down.

Timon Van Mecklen

> Articles

As a fashion expert, he knows how to interpret trends and developments like no other. He is fond of Dries Van Noten and Prada and sees his clothes as valuable investments. You get just as much fun from stock sales as you get from your birthday, Christmas, and summer holidays together. He finds little more satisfying than drinking plenty of natural wine and people-watching on the balcony.

Leave a Comment