On Motherhood and Marriage Regret
I never wanted to have kids.
This is always a surprising revelation to most people I talk to since I have four kids and actually enjoy it. Mostly.
In the grand scheme of things, motherhood is awesome, but I think we can all pretty much agree that the day-to-day of parenting, especially alone, can be extremely taxing. Sometimes dehumanizing.
But I was perfectly happy with my life as a Dual-Income-No-Kids (DINK) person. And yes, while I had my first child fairly young (at 28) and didn’t have the mid-thirties “I NEED TO PROCREATE NOW!” desperation that I hear some women talk about, I never felt like I was missing out or better, would miss out if I didn’t have any children.
Also, I really didn’t want to mess them up. I was good with books and papers and college students. But shaping small humans into responsible, loving, caring, ethical adults, well, that’s no slouch job.
That shit is hard.
So then why do we feel like everyone should want to do it?
We hear a lot about marriage regret but little about motherhood regret, probably because it involves small, innocent humans that we actually love deeply. And for them to hear that we regret the decision to have them could be a life altering one, or at least, one that will fuel therapy for years to come.
And somehow, because we all have a uterus and ovaries that we should want kids.
Look, I’m tall and have long legs and have absolutely no desire to play basketball, volleyball, or any other tall-person sports. And yes, comparing sports to motherhood is hardly equal, but when you break everything down to biology, it sort of is.
Also, since when are all people good at the same exact thing? Pretty much never.
To be clear, I don’t regret motherhood. At all.
In fact, it’s probably the one thing in my life I have no regrets about.
But I do regret marriage. I regret feeling as though I had to fit a certain mold and follow a societal norm that was created based on values and tenets I do not believe in.
I regret not listening to my gut.
Those feelings can apply to both motherhood and marriage.
Many of us grow up in non-traditional families, and live non-traditional lives, and yet we still feel this pull, an obligation almost to fit our square pegs into that round hole. And we pound and pound because it looks amazing and everyone’s doing it and I want a white dress and a big party with lots of booze and a gaggle of children to call me “Mommy” when really it might not be for us.
But really, when you have experienced a life that is vastly off the yellow brick road of normalcy well maybe Oz is not the end-all-be-all for you. Which isn’t a bad thing, because as we all know — as the divorce rates climb — not too many people can hack it.
I’m not saying this “Oz” of happy endings, awesome relationships, THE ONE isn’t possible for people.
It would, however, be lifesaving for so many if we just admitted that we all might get there in a different way, with stops and bumps and detours. A lot of detours. And that when we do get there (wherever “there” is), it might not be exactly what we expected. It might be worse. It might be better.
Or we may never get there at all. Sometimes it’s just the journey, right?
But when we give people (and ourselves) permission to pop this bubble of a happy marriage, happy family that we’ve somehow created like it’s cut right out of a fairytale book — no regrets, no guilt — my guess is that we’d all actually be happier.
Our kids. And ourselves.