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*deep breath* I regret having children.

(172 Posts)
BadGround Wed 09-Feb-11 09:29:58

Ive namechanged clearly... even so, writing the title took me about 20 minutes... but it still doesn't sound wrong.

I regret having my ds. He is 15 months old now, and while I'd go to the ends of the Earth for him, there is not a day goes by that I don't kick myself.

It is not PND. I am not depressed or 'down'. No doubt someone will try to convince me it is, just like unhappy victorian ladies were labelled as mentally ill when they were desperately unhappy with the lives society gave them. I am perfectly happy with my life, or rather, I was. My son is perfectly lovely, and my dh is extremely helpfull. I adore them both. And no, I wasn't pressured into it, either. I was in love with the idea. I thought it was what I wanted. Society told me it was what I wanted ,right?

I would never give up my ds, and I look forward to giving him a loving environment to grow and learn... but if there was a way to reverse time, and politely, painlessly engineer him out of existence, I would. Honestly.

It never occurred to me that I had any choice otherwise. Nobody ever tells you that you have a choice. I miss my old life intensely, and the thought that I had every right and opportunity to keep it that way makes me sick. It's got to the point that these thoughts don't make me feel guilty anymore.

I miss my relationship with my partner. I miss what we did together. I miss being able to walk out the front door of my own bloody house without a second thought. I miss having the money to spend on the odd nice thing. I miss having a house full of our nice, beautiful, adult things. I miss being able to ponder freely over my career options.

Honestly, truthfully, does anyone feel the same? I don't mean those who are unfortunate enough to have depression... does anyone actually endure cold, hard regret? Even just sometimes?

I don't want help. I don't even know what I want. I don't think I could describe myself as feeling "desperate". I guess i just want to feel like I'm not a hideous monster all on my own.

I know I'll probably get a million identical replies of "It's sometimes hard... but I wouldn't change them for the world!!!". Although, yeah, I'm happy for you.

Please don't hate me, is what I'm really trying to say. I actually consider myself quite a loving person.

Don't really know how to end this. Over to you.

WorzselMummage Wed 09-Feb-11 09:37:30

I think we all feel like this !

I wouldn't say I regretted having my DD but OMG i missed my old life intensely for a couple of years... my old figure/wardrobe/independence/car/job/money/peace! etc etc etc etc. If you enjoyed your life before DC it's quite normal to mourn the loss of it. I don't even thing it means you 'regret' having your DC, just that you regret having to make so many sacrifices.

Your post is full of love, it doesn't sound like regret is the word you mean

methodsandmaterials Wed 09-Feb-11 09:39:23

I am in a waiting room about to be called onto something so can't write as much as I'd like to. Suffice to say, at least for now, that I know exactly how you feel. I could have written your post myself. I think I'm now at the stage where I realise that my old life has gone forever, and it is "just" a matter of re-equilibrating expectations to the new one. There is a lot of grieving involved and God knows when it will finally happen though. Hope someone will be along with something more profound and useful.

MollieO Wed 09-Feb-11 09:45:04

It does get easier as they get older. I could have happily missed 0-2 yrs. Ds is nearly 7 now and is great company. My life is less restricted, holiday choices are now the same as I did pre-dc and life in general is easier. When he was 15 months I wondered if I would ever get my life back so, at least for me, what you are feeling is perfectly normal.

MarineIguana Wed 09-Feb-11 09:48:18

BadGround, I'm not posting to say I feel the same, so I won't pretend I do – but still I do know how hard it is to make that change. I had my first at 35 and I had really got used to my life, and our life as a couple, and it does change. Plus 15 months is a very tough age – they are not fully verbal but they are haring around everywhere and it's exhausting.

However it's not all doom and gloom because you DO get your life back - even with children. I've recently had my second after a 5-year gap and now I'm back in that world of hardly being able to do anything and being constantly tired and frustrated (about the things I can't do - though I do adore my DC too). But before the baby was born, we really could do a lot with a 4/5-year-old, childcare becomes much easier, your child can come with you to some things, you can leave the DC with your partner/family and go away for a few days etc. I managed to get back to my hobbies and social life really pretty well (now largely on hold again, but having been through it I know it will get easier).

I think one of the important things is being able to admit these feelings in a society and role where you're not "supposed" to feel them. But it's nothing new. Having children has always had a frustrating side and plenty of mothers in the past just farmed out their childcare to nannies/household staff so they could stay free - if they had the money.

It's OK to feel like this abd you can look forward to it getting better. Can you focus on something you would really like to do for yourself and arrange it so that it can happen - whether it's a night away, special day with partner etc?

Threelittleducks Wed 09-Feb-11 09:49:46

I endure a daily battle with these feelings.

I am one of those 'say it as it is' types and I too struggle with not being able to say what I actually feel.

I love my kids intensely - my whole life is about them. But my goodness, what I wouldn't give to reverse time and have one more day....

I am even more aware now than I ever was that the next time I come up for air and get to be who I really really am I will be too old, too worn-down by it all, too docile, had all the courage ripped out of me.
I think all the time about what I could have been by now, could have had, could have done; but on the flip side I DO have moments of total bliss. Moments where I think 'what was I doing before all this - nothing means anything compared to this! This is what it's all about!' So I suppose I hang onto those moments tightly and I realise that, yes, I will be able to look back and say 'no regrets'.
I hope.

I do feel as though I have lost any inkling of who I am. I used to feel like I had a good grip of that.
Societal rules have conspired to do this to me - I feel very strongly asbout that. Changing my name when I got married, staying at home to look after the kids after getting 2 degrees - yes all my choices. I chose.
But I also didn't in a way.
Is sacrificed the right word?
A sacrifice for whatever the greater good we are aiming for actually is.

NormanTheForeman Wed 09-Feb-11 10:00:18

I felt very much the same when ds was that age. I really questioned whether I had done the right thing. But as he has got older (he is 10 now), life has changed again, and many of the things you are describing will change quite quickly. For example, once they are about 4 or 5, you can leave the house without taking loads of stuff with you - they only need to put on shoes, and a coat in winter. Also by that age you can have your house full of nice adult things (keep the children's stuff in their rooms). We certainly don't have ds's stuff all over our living room etc.

And as they get older, it becomes easier to do things again with your partner (it's easier getting babysitters when they are older, and some things you can all do as a family, which are hard at baby/toddler stage).

And I find that now ds is older, he is really good company. At 15 months, although I loved him, I couldn't honestly say he was good company. I found it really hard to engage with the baby/toddler stage, and although I tried my best, I always felt as if I was acting out a part, and it wasn't the real me. But it's not like that at all now.

I can totally understand how you feel, but I know that for me it did change. I sometimes wished I could turn the clock back when ds was a baby/toddler, but I don't any more. I hope this helps/gives you some hope.

BettyButterknife Wed 09-Feb-11 10:13:28

I agree that there is a huge amount of propaganda surrounding becoming a parent - all those celebrity mags where women talk about how amazing it is, how it's the best thing they've ever done (normally when baby is about five minutes old); the way people start asking you as soon as you're married when you're going to have kids; you're made such a fuss of when pregnant and after the birth.

I had no fucking idea what I was getting myself into. None. We were one of the first in our group of friends to have children so we didn't really have any real life experience of what it truly entails. The people we did know with kids didn't say anything - it's like there's a code of secrecy which means that as soon as you're pregnant no-one wants to tell you the truth so when you find it out for yourself it comes as a massive horrible shock.

I hated it. Hated. Mourned my old life desperately, could not believe how very shit the shit bits were. I sort of made it my job to tell the truth about the reality of motherhood - in amongst my friend's facebook updates about how amazing it all is you will find mine, which are more truthful. My truth anyway. But i've encountered problems there in that some of my friends really want kids but can't have them, so I end up looking unkind and ungrateful.

Anyway, I have two kids. Ds1 is 3.5yo and a joy to be around. I never thought I would get there, I hated the first two years. I now have a 6mo ds2 and I'm hating it all over again. If I could fast forward to 2013 I would do it in a heartbeat. Turns out, I don't really do babies, it's only when they're actual people I start to enjoy it. Having said that seeing my two together is lovely so I'm glad they have each other. Think that thought is keeping me going, tbh.

NormanTheForeman Wed 09-Feb-11 10:19:35

I quite agree, Betty. In fact it was the thought of having to go through the baby/early toddler stage again that put me off having another.

It's worked out ok, as ds is quite happy without any siblings, but I do sometimes feel a bit guilty that I should have tried to provide a brother or sister for him.

Guildenstern Wed 09-Feb-11 10:23:26

I sometimes think that, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have had kids. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Is that regret?

I also agree that there is a process of mourning your old life. At some point you do come to terms with the loss, lift your head up, and have hope again.

It can be hard looking at the long years ahead before they leave home. It helps me to remember that each of those years won't actually be like this year. The children will grow up and become less demanding.

And I know it's annoying to be told this over and over again, but it is true: it does get better as they get older. Honestly.

GooseyLoosey Wed 09-Feb-11 10:25:07

I regretted it too - until my children were about 4. I knew it had all been a terrible mistake. People used to say "I bet you can't imagine life without them" and I would think "I can, and it would be great".

They are now 7 and 6 and it is all different - I miss them when they are not there. Once you can talk to them and they can give as much as they take, the relationship changes completely.

You will find yourself able to have more and more time for you and your relationship with your partner again - you just have to hang in there through the early years.

NormanTheForeman Wed 09-Feb-11 10:29:53

I agree so much with both Guildenstern and Goosey. I remember when ds was about 6 months old, I had a weekend away without him (dh looked after him at home). So many people said "I bet you missed him". I didn't at all, I was just so happy to have time to myself. But now he is 10, if he is away overnight I miss him like crazy, or if I have to go away without him (which I wouldn't choose to do now).

CatIsSleepy Wed 09-Feb-11 10:30:27

well i do miss the simplicity of life before kids I must say. And being able to do stuff spontaneously. But it seems like a long time ago now! A different life, in a way. Life moves on and changes, and there's not much point looking back. Anyway, I hang on to the thought that I will get my life back eventually.

warthog Wed 09-Feb-11 10:32:29

i regret / have regretted it too. i remember one very dark sunday afternoon when my single friends had come round and they walked out the door saying bye. i watched them walking down the street and this intense longing to just run away with them and never come back was completely overwhelming. turning back into the flat was one of the darkest hours of my life - apart from deaths i've had to deal with.

it's terribly hard.

my only way of coping with it is to get a couple of hours a week to myself to pursue whatever i want. or veg on the sofa drinking coffee and eating bonbons if i want. it's not quite enough, but it's something.

hang in there.

MarineIguana Wed 09-Feb-11 10:33:39

I don't think I would turn the clock back, but I know for sure my DP would think twice about having DC if he had the choice again (even though he is a very doting and committed dad). We have had so many childhood illnesses and thwarted plans this winter and it has been really exhausting. One day as he went out of the door he grumbled "Having kids is shit!". That would be shocking (and it's not something I'd want everyone in RL to know!) except that I know how hard he finds it and that he doesn't mean he doesn't love them - he just needs to let it out.

As for me, although I wouldn't say I regret it, I do have a "parallel life" in my mind, one where I stayed childless and, if not single, living alone. In my fantasy I spend my free time pootling about gardening, sewing, going on exciting travels, even choosing my own duvet cover without a fuss over joint decisions or how expensive or washable it is. In John Lewis of IKEA I will literally go and "choose" my fantasy choice and have a little daydream, before returning to the practical options.

Well it keeps me sane

<gibber>

cobbledtogether Wed 09-Feb-11 10:34:44

I had this discussion with my DH the other day. It went along the lines of this...

"When I was single and living by myself, all I could think about is how I would love to be in a stable relationship and have a family of my own. Now I have that relationship and a family, I would love to get rid of you all."

I regret having my children, but its got better over time. I don't regret them so much as miss my old life.

Dunoon Wed 09-Feb-11 10:38:21

I agree that if I had known what life with children would be like I would have considered it much more seriously and think I would have had one maximum [have three] if any at all.
A friend of mine said having a third would ruin my life which I resented at the time but have thought true since.
It's not so much that I miss my old life but that quite a lot of the last 12 years have been hell and my life has been put on hold really.
With all of the 'I love them to bits' bits too.

pavlovalover Wed 09-Feb-11 10:46:55

I feel like this from time to time. Mainly in terms of my career. And, sorry to say, it's got worse as they have got older. When the children were younger, I thought I could have it all. Am now grappling with the reality that I can't and am struggling to feel good about any aspect of my life as a result.
But, when I do get really down about this, I think about how some of this is just aging and life getting more complicated generally. If I didn't have children, my friends probably still would and so the free and easy social life was gone anyway. And while I might not be looking after children, I could be caring for my elderly parents. And I would probably spend a lot of time regreting not having had children. It's kind of backward, but this thought process actually helps me!
You're not alone, but possibly what you're beating yourself up about it's not as clear cut as you think.

JetLi Wed 09-Feb-11 10:58:26

I feel the same as MarineIguana. DD is 18 months old. I had her when I was 38. The last 18 months have been the fastest of my life. We had honestly done the "single life" to death. Plus I am long enough in the tooth to realise I didn't have a career, I have a job. It pays well enough but any romantic notion of fulfilment from it was kicked out of me years ago. It's merely a means to an end. My relationship with DP honestly doesn't seem to have changed - in what ways has yours?

Are you quite young by comparison to me OP?

ronshar Wed 09-Feb-11 10:58:39

I can safely say you are not alone.
I have three children. I resented having the first so much it took me 4 years to get over the lose of my life and have another one.
My career went to shit, my dp carried on as if baby hadn't arrived.
I am now 11 years later and a mother of three at a point of acceptance.

I tell myself that all I have to do is make sure the children I produced get the best start in life then I can be proud of myself.

I do spend a lot of time biteing my tongue and in a state of confusion when I listen or read about those women who are so totally in love with the crap that is being at home with their children. I genuinely do not understand what it is they find so interesting.
That isnt to say I think less of them or think I am in any way shape or form better than them.
I genuinely do not understand. It is as if a bit of me is not wired properly!? iyswim?

MarineIguana Wed 09-Feb-11 11:04:09

Oh yes those women who say "well it was a relief to give up work because now I can just be with the DC 24/7" or "I love the holidays when we can all just hang out all the time". shock When they say that I'm always a split second away from making a comedy sticking-forks-in-my-eyes gesture and have to stop myself.

I do love my DC, they are wonderful and I do actually love their company too, but my god I need a break. I can't function if I do nothing but childcare because my brain needs to focus and concentrate - I need work days and headspace.

yellowvan Wed 09-Feb-11 11:06:14

The one thing I would say is for heavens sake don't giveup work. I did, and moved away from friends, too, andi regret itevery day. Am finding it impossible to get ft work again. Leave yourself that outlet at least.

ronshar Wed 09-Feb-11 11:09:46

At school when they say how much they love the holidays!! I dread the holidays. The first few days are ok as you dont have to rush out the door each morning. But after that how boring is it when each day they fight, bicker, expect you to be at their beck and call. Hideous.

I love my children but they are not my friends and I wouldn't chose to spend my relaxation time with them.

Nattynar Wed 09-Feb-11 11:13:16

I'm so pleased to have found this thread. I don't feel such a bad person for feeling that way about my son. I was 25 when he was born, and feel like I'm missing so much as all my friends are foot loose and fancy free, looking amazing, spending their money on fab clothes, holidays and having perfect tidy houses. I would like for just one day to have a life like they do, how mine was. And not have to feign how great life is with a small child!

If I could I would too take it all back, for him to arrive in another 10 years time.

JetLi Wed 09-Feb-11 11:13:19

I agree also with not giving up work. It was never really an option for me in that the workplace would have moved on so quickly that I'd never have been able to get back in at the same level. But that's not to say that I find going out to work somehow meaningful. It is something I do - it doesn't define me, heaven forbid.

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