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 gave 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 all the time… When he was eighteen he went to live with his father, who was an expatriate in China. I have to say this relieved me. I moved and started living in rooms as a student. When he came back a year later, he disappeared “.

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Fear of being prosecuted

After five years of agonizing radio silence, a private investigator discovers his address. “Today we see each other only occasionally and superficially. That bourgeois dogma of being a good wife and a good mother has destroyed 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.
had 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 should it be with humor, as Corinne Meyer did in 2007 with her 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 refers this to the study “Motherhood Regret,” a socio-political analysis of the Israeli researcher, in which she collected the testimonies of 23 mothers between the ages of 25 and 75 who admitted to regretting motherhood in 2015. The article met a wall of misunderstanding in many countries and heated up discussions.In Israel, Donath is now seen as the woman who “challenges the general social consensus that women should become a mother.”

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no arguing

“Over the years, I’ve attended hundreds of discussions 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 There’s No Debate Here Mal de MersAnd he went to investigate.

“I wanted to know of those women who could look me in the eye and say, ‘Yeah, I’m sorry I had a baby, and if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have one.'” Every story is different, but everyone admits they were wrong. Some find out when the baby gets 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 postpartum blues or postpartum depression. Their regret is a deep realization. He admits to yourself that you would rather not have this little creature be by your side and that you would rather not know him or him so that you would 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 lovingly embracing their children: “That this little miracle of motherhood was so full of evidence that she must have experienced this 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, she was a famous architect, but decided to devote herself exclusively to her daughter for 18 months. “I only stopped breastfeeding when I had to travel for work,” 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, because of 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 in. I’ve 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 later in life may be even more Mentally tougher than when I was younger, and you’re probably more aware of the responsibility you take on.”

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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, remorse.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 a stranger to yourself,” she says. “I was also with the idea of ​​a perfect mother, and I had no idea that I was next to a
The child will need other things.

Father’s role

In all of this, it is important for men to take on the role of father better and to pay more attention to what pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott has to say. 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 about the idea that your child might absorb this feeling that you even 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 testimony, 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 outright brutal. But according to clinical psychologist Adèle Assous, 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 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 courage of these mothers enough.

We still remember the memorable interview with Axelle Red about Slogging 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

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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. Have loads of fun from stock sales as you get your birthday, Christmas and summer holidays together. He finds what is more satisfying than drinking plenty of natural wine and people-watching on the balcony.

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