Motherhood: For Some, it’s the Hood of Regret


What is it like raising a child while actively regretting grabbing motherhood by the horns? Is it like Orna Donath, Israeli sociologist said: “as if the metaphorical umbilical cord binding them to their children were in fact wrapped around their neck?” 


To think that everyone likes what you like is kind of crazy. This is simply because not by a long shot are we all the same. It’s like your very pregnant neighbor making a peanut butter and sardine sandwich because she swears by it and all you can do is look on in disgust as you guys chat about the plans for the joint kids birthday party you guys are throwing. That right there is what makes us human: not subscribing to the same likes. Today’s example of this would be motherhood and making the decision to take it on. Many are elated to do just that but there are few who feel positively negative about the task, and I say task because that’s how they see it. Then there are women who, as I said, feel elated about becoming a mother but when it happens, quickly grow to hate it. In the following paragraphs, we’re going to tackle the reality that is motherhood and the regret of entering this hood.  


In July, a social media post of a mother expressing her regret about becoming a mom floated around. Taking to Facebook in the middle of the day, Nicole Powell, who is a Sexual Alchemy Coach wrote: “If I would have known what I know now, motherhood would have NEVER been on the table for me. I despise motherhood.” Society has raised young girls to picture their future and envision marriage to a spouse in a house with a white picket fence, one or three kids, and a dog called Elvis. To believe that the only acceptable maternal response is a positive one that beams at the possibility of being a mother. The rhetoric of motherhood has constantly been chanted along the lines of Michelle Obama’s, “Being mom in chief is, and will always be Job No. 1”. In 1817, Napoleon Bonaparte told the French soldier Gaspard Gourgaud that women are “mere machines to make children.” However, there’s a growing number of women who are challenging that narrative. They’re saying, “I regret having children” in a room filled with children-lovers and being met with ridicule and sometimes even harm against them. “It’s as though a woman’s purpose in life is to have children,” Ms. Noble, a British photographer who lives in Berlin, said, recounting a 2016 encounter with a taxi driver in Berlin — a haven for alternative family structures — when the driver nearly drove off the road after he discovered that she was married without children. “Have one and by the second or third, you’ll like it,” he said.


Women who deviate from the maternal script and traditional childbearing expectations usually give three common reasons. They either chalk up their desire to unsubscribe to society’s manual to their freedom and independence being threatened; the 18-year minimum responsibility; or the intense feelings of  being “trapped” and “suffocated”.  It is also important to say that these women don’t regret their children, just the experience of motherhood. Going into detail about the things that contribute to her motherhood regret, Nicole said, “I hate [that] my sleep has been interrupted for two years. I hate cooking in the evenings (I hate to cook). I hate finding snacks and making bottles, and changing diarrhea diapers consistently for 15 hours straight (this was my Saturday). Being a mother is not aligned with my soul’s purpose.” According to a very-much-in-regret Nicole, “Ain’t no baby cute enough, sweet enough, pure enough for me to do it again.”  As her freedom which she vastly enjoys and is a huge part of her life, will essentially be threatened. 


Earlier it was stated that the women who knew for a fact that they don’t want kids, saw having kids as a task. Additionally, it was also stated that the regret women felt is not with the offspring but with the actual act of taking care of the offspring. In Powell’s post, she honestly stated, “Now, she’s here and I’m going to stick beside her. Because I’ve chosen to take on this task I have put my feelings of being a misaligned mother to the side to give her optimal life and the best well being possible.” A mom online who goes by the name of Dutton “expressed love for her offspring (“I would cut off my arm if either needed it”); but it was maternal strictures she bristled against (“I felt oppressed by my constant responsibility for them”). In Today’s Parent, Augustine Brown called her children “the best things I have ever done” and assured readers she wasn’t “a monster” before expressing conflicted feelings: “What I’m struggling with is that it feels like their amazing life comes at the expense of my own,” she wrote, expressing remorse for “this life I wanted so badly and now find myself trapped in.” In the eyes of Donath, “Women who express regret are called selfish, unnatural, abusive “bad moms” or believed to “exemplify the ‘whining’ culture we allegedly live in”. As reported in Macleans, “Many women said they felt pressured to have children. So did German novelist Sarah Fischer, author of Die Mutterglück-Lüge (The Myth of Mothering Joy: Regretting Motherhood—Why I’d Rather Have Become a Father), published in 2016, who writes she knew she’d made a mistake “when the contractions started.”

The question stands: Why do you want to have kids? Have you the resources and emotional ability needed to mold young minds? Or is it just a shot in the dark because you feel obligated to? For many mothers, the problem is the picture in their heads of how being a mom is supposed to go. Society has made it difficult, wrong even, to admit that second thoughts about becoming a mother can be in play. With the joint forces of society and what they’ve seen from their own mothers, along with their own constructed beliefs, tradition states that women are to bear children, love them, and at all times must enjoy motherhood. Nicole Powell ended her honest moment with, “I would not recommend motherhood, I give it 1 star. And I definitely don’t recommend it to people that are in trauma bonds hoping that it will hold some shit together.” According to Think, “But what’s lovable about a temper-tantruming toddler, a whining 5-year-old or a hostile adolescent? And who in their right mind enjoys cleaning up a child’s poop?”


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