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Does anyone else regret having children?

(340 Posts)
Zahora Mon 29-Jun-09 02:39:04

Does anyone else regret having your child? I loved my old life. My husband really wanted a child and I put it off for so long, just knowing that it's not my calling. I gave in after so many rows thinking I would adjust. It was either that or leave my husband whom I loved very much. My son is 2 years old and it has been such a lonely and desperate struggle. I feel like my wonderful life has turned upside down. I still do not feel like a mother. I look after my son full time, I even breastfed for a year, yet it just feels so ...hollow. It's not me. I miss my old life so much I just feel like walking out and leaving my husband and son. I hate playing in the park. I want to go to a gallery. I hate watching peppa pig- I want to read a novel. I hate going to playgroups - I want to have lunch with freinds. I do everything I can for my son and he is lovely. Yet motherhood so far has left me feeling like I have been conned out of my real life. Will life ever return to normal. Will my son feel that I am detached? I don't think I'm depressed. Has anyone else felt like this?

kinafe Sun 25-Nov-12 13:55:50

First I want to say that I feel much admiration for all the posters here for their honesty. I've read through the posts and feel very moved by the stories and struggles. I'm 45 (in November) and have never had children for various reasons. I've sometimes wondered if I should have gone ahead and had a child. From about 38 to about a year ago, I really tried to find a nice guy who I could have kids with, but I was never convinced by the men I dated that they'd be supportive enough, and I didn't want to be a single Mum - not for any moral reason - just because I didn't think I could handle it without the right support!

Reading these posts makes me feel less of a freak because I too don't have much of a maternal instinct.

One thing I've always thought, is that maybe it's not natural for a Mother to be isolated and by herself with her baby. When I look at so called 'primitive' societies, the women seem to all hang out together sharing the responsibility collectively, and the babies and children know they can find support from women other than their own Mum. This must make it possible for Mums in this situation to have 'off' days, or weeks, or months even! It's like our society has overly sentimentalised the whole baby making thing. There's a hypocrisy at work here though, because if as a society we really were committed to bringing up children, there'd be more breaks for working Dads and more free support for women (work creches etc)

I agree with the posters who feel that although having babies has turned out to be un-fulfilling, they know they have to make the best of the situation, but there's so much brilliant advice here about how to make that bearable. Having suffered bouts of depression, my heart goes out to Mums here who are going through that exhausting and draining time when it feels like nothing will get better and something has been 'taken' from you

Here's a few lines from DH Lawrence's 'Shadows' written when he was suffering from incurable TB - (substitute 'man' for 'women'!)

'And if, in the changing phases of man’s life
I fall in sickness and in misery
my wrists seem broken and my heart seems dead
and strength is gone, and my life
is only the leavings of a life:

and still, among it all, snatches of lovely oblivion, and snatches of renewal
odd, wintry flowers upon the withered stem, yet new, strange flowers
such as my life has not brought forth before, new blossoms of me

then I must know that still
I am in the hands of the unknown God,
he is breaking me down to his own oblivion
to send me forth on a new morning, a new man'

BumblyBee123 Sun 06-Jan-13 17:15:55

I know I'm reviving an old thread here, but it feels like the right place to post. I sat here finding myself agreeing with a lot of what's been said.

I had a DD when I was 19, she's 6 now. If I could go back in time and change things, I would never have had children. I've found motherhood very hard, probably made worse by the fact I was in an unhealthy marriage with lots of control issues. I'd been with DD's dad since I was 16 - I was young, impressionable, naive and escaping an abusive homelife, while he was a fair bit older and whisked me off to the other side of the county away from my family.

Once DD came along I felt trapped and the little confidence I had was completely gone, I felt worthless and bored. I spent most days just going through the motions of looking after her or daydreaming about what my life could have been like.

But fast forward a few years to present day and I am so much happier in myself. What changed? I went to university, left my controlling ex and got a job in an industry that I really enjoy. DD lives with her dad most of the time but is with me weekends and half of the holidays. I wouldn't go back to the days I was a sahm for anything.

The issue I have at the moment is that I'm still feeling like I can't live my own life. To progress my career in the way I'd like I need to move to London - there are no jobs in this area in my particular field. I feel incredibly selfish to be thinking this way. There's no way I could move DD, practically OR legally. I know nobody has answers, I just wanted to vent and this thread really struck a chord. I wish people could be more open about these kinds of feelings as it is very much taboo for anyone, let alone mothers, to admit they regret having their children.

MsMoppet Tue 22-Jan-13 14:11:20

Hi Bee, and other recent posters,

What an awful situation to find yourself in. I don't know what to say but can I ask how do you feel about not being the full time carer of your child? I guess this isn't the best thought to be having whilst TTC but I often wonder whether I could let (force) DH to take it/them if we split up. Both whether he would take them and whether I could let them go. I recognise that however much people regret having children, they rarely seem to want to leave them once they arrive (thankfully I guess). It is that permanence that terrifies me - what if I don't even like my own!!!?

We are TTC on our second month and I was so relieved that it didn't work the first month. I am now secretly hoping that we won't be able to conceive. But then at the same time, if it is ever to happen I almost want to get it over with asap and at a similar time to our friends. So I am totally torn and wondering what on earth I am letting myself in for, either way!

And what is really frustrating me at the moment is that all my friends who are currently pregnant (and all wanted to be desperately) seem to planning to be Gina Ford-esqe mothers without a thought for their babies comfort and only wanting to minimise the impact the baby has on their lives. I don't even want a baby and even I can see that it is best to change your life when they arrive and live by their rules at least during the newborn phase when their needs are most urgent and non-negotiable. Why do they want children and not want to adapt to them? I just don't get the mentality. It seems I don't really "get" anything about having children!

canyoubelieveit Tue 22-Jan-13 23:28:30

I have a single mother to a one year old daughter who I had at the age of 35. All my life I thought I wanted children and I loved spending time with my friends children. I am so depressed at being a parent and I have absolutely no reason to be as my daughter is the sweetest, most lovable little girl who deserves the very best. I never thought in a million years I would feel like this honestly feel my life is over and I wish so much I could turn the clock back. I have explored anti depressants and therapy and none of it has helped. Has anyone ever thought things would be better for their child if they were adopted? Not that this could ever happen unless you were a teenage Mother. Having a child is a blessing, and it is so unnatural not to feel the greatest love for your child- I know I received it from my parents myself so I just don't understand how I could have got this so very wrong and I didn't know myself. I know it's utterly disgraceful and for most Mothers unbelievable but I really don't know what to do. Does anyone else feel this bad? I feel so guilty and sorry for my daughter but I desperately wish I could return to my old life. I find the practicalities and responsibilities of parenthood daunting and am like a Bridget Jones messy untidy childlike and it feels really tough rather than feeling you do whatever you can for your child I am not enjoying all the different stages which other parents understandably love. I have lost my confidence at work as I work 3 days a week so am out of the loop and I can't enjoy the days I have with my daughter- can't get things done, can't manage to look in anyway acceptably normal and groomed and be organised, tidy and practical. I'm also not at all interested in peppa pig etc. I honestly feel I am not cut out to look after another human being and it will get more demanding practically and financially as the years go on. I look around at all the Mothers I know and many of them have more children and a much more demanding life but they are motivated by the passion they feel towards their children. I really don't know what I can do to turn my thinking around and I've got to do it for the sake of my daughter. Does anyone have any advice? I just wish there was a way out of parenthood- can you believe it?

canyoubelieveit Tue 22-Jan-13 23:43:37

I've just re read my message and I realise how ridiculous it all sounds. I do realise that we all have certain yearnings of our life before and we can only just do the very best we can for our children as they absolutely deserve that and things will get easier.

Arcadia Tue 29-Jan-13 20:37:01

Not ridiculous at all canyoubelieveit that is exactly how I felt for quite a while but it is SO hard in the early years. Like you I feel unsuited to motherhood and like I am no good at looking after another human being (I should have known, never was good with pot plants or pets!). I thought I had ruined my life.
HOWEVER at one Year I felt a massive relief and now DD is 3.2 it gets better and better.

Middy86 Tue 29-Jan-13 20:47:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fishandjam Tue 29-Jan-13 21:26:05

Does anyone know what happened to Zahora? Because her posts made me cry, both for her and her poor little son. I had a mother who displayed similar behaviour to that which Zahora detailed on here and it screwed me up big time, to the extent that I put off having my own DCs until my late thirties (yes, Liz Jones hates me grin) because I was so terrified of doing the same to them. (Luckily, so far I seem to be doing OK.)

ophelia275 Sun 03-Feb-13 12:22:54

Fishandjam - Why don't you pm her? If she responds you will know she is still on mumsnet.

Arcadia Tue 05-Feb-13 11:20:39

I hope she is ok, if you look at her last posts in March there is a concerning one.

FortyAndStillUnsure Thu 14-Feb-13 18:29:25

I have been desperately searching the Internet on whether or not to have a baby and thankfully came across this thread. Thank you all for sharing your experiences on such a taboo topic.

I have just turned 40 and am STILL on the fence about whether or not to go down the motherhood track. I was never one of those girls at school who dreamed of getting married and having kids but rather threw myself into my education. 3 degrees and a phd later I feel I have accomplished my educational goals and now wonder whether I should have had children. I have frozen my eggs so children are still a possibility and while my work is fulfilling I fear I may be missing out on the joys of motherhood or rather the joys of loving someone so completely. I also think about how I may feel when I'm old and don't have children to love.

This thread has been so enlightening as I confess I have had very little to do with children. I really have no idea what motherhood would be like. However, I have been starting to feel that life may be empty without children and I am struggling to make the decision either way. Either I accept children aren't for me(and make peace with this and move on) or go through the ivf process. I am not married so would be seeking a sperm donor and going it alone.

At the moment the question that pervades my every waking moment is is it better to have kids and maybe regret it or end up regretting never having kids at all???

Fishandjam Thu 14-Feb-13 22:17:50

forty, just seen your post. If it's any help, I got to age 35 pretty damn convinced that I didn't want kids. I'd never had anything to do with them, and felt I'd be a rubbish mother. And all the mates I had who sprogged became so bloody boring afterwards...

But then I realised, after talking to DH, that while neither of us had a burning desire for children, we felt we'd regret it if we didn't do it. I was lucky that we had DS and then DD without too many problems.

I'll admit there have been days when I've longed to be without kids. But overall they've been wonderful - I now get why people have children. (And yes, I'm probably now just as boring!)

However, it's been, and continues to be, fucking hard work and I am full of awe at single parents. I know for a fact I'd have crumbled without DH. But you may be made of sterner stuff than me!

bacon Thu 14-Feb-13 22:35:36

What I find is the thankless and tireless job....I feel as though I'm having the blood sucked out of me and its a constant battle. I may have two young boys but I have a husband too who relies on me loads to help run the business and do all the chores so in essence I have 3 children!

Not that I want the word "thanks" but its constant effort of trying to do everything right just having it thrown back in your face, crying when I help at homework wanting them to get on, hearing them moaning about going swimming, turning the TV on off on off, the screaming, shouting, whining and winning then the dread of spending the whole weekend with them, thinking what to do, when I do make the effort its painfully awful - wish I hadn't bothered.

Yet you have the mums who spew out the comments like "I wouldnt change it for the world', 'cant wait to spend time with them', 'boys will be boys', 'they are such a joy' endless statements I feel so distant to I can hardly break into a smile when I hear these...I actually want to say...'you having a laugh?' surely you must get more joy out of a hobby??? Honestly I cannot be more happier when they are away for the weekend (hardly ever) I'm a different happier person it is like a great weight lifted off me and I can be myself again and realise I actually do have a personality and I like myself.

I'm also battling with a 7 yr old who is pushing his cocky personality which again is a battle. I want to shake him to get him to accept that he has more than most, much more than I ever had, amazing opportunities, great healthy life endless and a 4 yr old who is wild, naughty and tempered. All makes for a cocktail of disaster in my head. Love it when strict hubby comes in and doesnt understand the stress, he escapes it, but has endless opinions of my failure to parent effectively.

Yet I am not a scholar, I have high expectations and valves yet it didn't happen and yearn to have that professional stance that successful self fulfilled people have. I feel as though if I had that then I'd have made my marque on the world and not be just another none person.

I am of the opinion that I respect the couples that decide it not for them as these are the couples we look up to now. Yet, if I didnt then I wouldnt feel womanly fulfilled and part of what life is about. There is no answer....its russian roulette!

MillionPramMiles Fri 15-Feb-13 11:27:13

It's the sheer bloody exhaustion of endless sleepless nights that's make me regret having a child. And the endless screaming tantrums when getting dressed or changing nappies or putting in the highchair or going out in the pram (and all the times in between). I used to keep in touch with friends. I used to have a happy relationship with my dp. I used to be in good physical and mental health. That's a lot to sacrifice.

choiceseliminate Mon 11-Mar-13 18:03:42

i wanted to thank you all for having such an honest thread. perhaps i am an anomaly to find on this site, but i am not a mom, and am solidly on the fence about having kids for many/most of the reasons you touch on within this discussion. i never wanted them, growing up, but now that i'm late 30s, the decision is going to be made for me (if it hasn't already) and i find myself soul-searching to make absolutely sure i'm making the right decision for me. it's so easy to hear regrets from those who don't have kids, but it's harder to find people who will admit they regret having kids, again, for all the reasons you've discussed here. at times, one of the reasons i'd considered FOR having kids, is that it seems that most mothers end up not regretting it, or feeling that the payoff (love, sweet child moments, etc.) were well-worth the costs, in addition to feeling i'm missing out on a HUGE set of experiences by not being a parent. because for those of you who DO miss your non-parent lives, you at least DO have some knowledge of what it's like to have had the experience of your previous child-free lives - if i remain a non-parent, i don't get to experience a life with a child. :-) in any event, i want to thank you again for all the bravery and brutal honesty you've all exhibited here, and to let you know that even if your intent was to find some catharsis for your own frustrations, you've also managed to help others immensely in sharing

thank you again for creating such a safe, welcoming, supportive environment.

Onaiis Sat 13-Apr-13 20:16:01

While searching for a little comfort from my living hell, I've found this thread. THANK YOU. My story is a little different...I've always wanted children and thought I had found the right man to have one with. Big mistake. While pregnant he did very little to help me through severe (for 6 months) morning sickness and what turned out to be a difficult pregnancy...always wanting to do something or go out somewhere I physically couldn't cope with. The birth was a breeze compared to the horrendous fights we had while I was pregnant. Constantly stressed doesn't even begin to cover it. And then for WEEKS he refused to help in anyway with the baby. And DD was a handful! Needless to say I couldn't believe that my dream of pregnancy and motherhood was shattered so quickly. I did my best to bond with DD while recovering and being on my own...husband off to his home country for a "becoming a father party" or constantly whining that the weather was horrid during his "time off work/holiday," instead of acknowledging what it really was, paternal leave or then back to work 7 am to 7pm. No bonding for him. It went on for months. Eventually I just broke down and we had to get help as I have zero family here. So these "off" days are like gems where I can feel a little like my old self. Tackle chores. Do laundry. Do something that isn't always bloody baby related. Needless to say at 2 DD is off to nursery for a few days so I can try to get some balance (of course without his help.)

Today DD is 9 months and its thanks to me (and a pinch of Gina) that our DD is happy, healthy and sleeping knock on wood at night. He did nothing. He grumbles at everything I ask him to do. Our rows are disgusting and leave me in shreds emotionally. It's gotten to the point where I filled out separation papers. I feel used, unloved, yanked around every time he gets frustrated with something and utterly exhausted having to constantly figure out what our lovely but demanding DD wants as well as soothing his ego and rages.

Although I've been depressed, it hasn't been about the baby per se...dear god I REGRET FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART having had one with him. I can't take anymore of the fear and criticism and yelling from him when all I'm trying to do is raise a happy, healthy child while trying to maintain a semblance of work and sanity. Sometimes I get so frustrated and angry with him I it spills out into everything I do, even playing with DD where I'm on the floor crying instead of singing her a song etc. I hate myself when I'm such a poor mother.

Where do I draw the line?

Onaiis Sat 13-Apr-13 20:17:55

Millionprammiles....I totally agree with you...

dumarma Sat 13-Apr-13 20:42:15

Onaiis, I'm sorry you're having a such a tough time.

You should paste what you've written into a new thread in "relationships" and you will get good advice and support.

dimsum123 Sun 14-Apr-13 14:30:45

I still regret having my kids 10 years later. I keep thinking about the life DH and I could have had. Nice holidays, eating out, a nice apartment in central London. I would have had the time and energy for the things I enjoy doing. I feel the best years of my life have been given over to raising our DC's. And for me its not worth it. I know that is a shocking thing to say. I wish I was an aunty instead of mother. My children are great, its not them, its me. I hate being a mother. I hate being a parent. I hate the loss of freedom and choices and sacrifices I have had to make. I hate the negative effect on my physical and mental health. It hasn't overall been worth it.

Salbertina Sun 14-Apr-13 16:32:26

I don't know.. Sometimes, definitely as it opened a whole can of worms for me re my own (emotionally abusive) childhood and ongoing v challenging relationship w my dm and dsis (who despite having no children nor bothering with mine us rather quick to criticise my parenting on the v rare occasions we meet! How dare she?! Sigh...)

I -like many- had no idea how relentless it all is and how inept and unskilled i would feel at coping with my dc as they get older. I don't like games, crafts etc .. I am impatient, self-absorbed at times as troubled so not the carefree, fun parent i had so hoped to be ie nothing like my miserable mother! Much as i navel-gaze to remedy the situation, i swear am often worse than my miserable mother! hmm

dimsum123 Sun 14-Apr-13 18:08:40

Salbertina, yes it opened a can of worms/Pandora's box for me too of all the unresolved fall out from my abusive childhood. Until I had DC's I had somehow managed to bury my own horrible childhood so deep that I'd forgotten all about it and all the horrors I went through.

I don't know if those memories would have somehow resurfaced anyway had I had not had DC's or whether they would have remained buried for ever and I would have carried on in my state of blissful ignorance.

I am a total introvert and so find the constant noise and attention DC's naturally need utterly exhausting. I find the holidays especially difficult. Thank god today is the last day. I cope so much better during term time when I get 6 hours a day to myself on weekdays.

I can't work due to health issues caused by having DC's......like I said, for me it is not all worth it to have DC's. I'd rather have kept my good health and life pre DC's than have the DC's and the life I have now.

Salbertina Sun 14-Apr-13 18:14:23

Sorry to hear that dimsum. Are they still quite early primary?? Wise person once pointed out that those of us less good in the early years may be v much better w teens, hope so!

expatinscotland Sun 14-Apr-13 18:16:42

I regret it now. My eldest of three, my elder daughter, got cancer and died after much pain and suffering. Now, our family is broken forever and despite my best efforts I will never be the mummy her two surviving siblings knew. So I wish I'd never had any of them. If I could go back in time knowing what I know now, what suffering they'd have to endure, I'd have never had any of them.

But no one can do that.

Salbertina Sun 14-Apr-13 18:21:13

Oh God expat! Im so sorry! I only hope support and time to grieve brings you some eventual peace

expatinscotland Sun 14-Apr-13 18:27:45

It never goes away when it's a child. I know that from a lot of people now. You just live on and get used to it.

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