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Does anyone else regret having children?

(445 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?

fullfathomfive Wed 22-Jan-14 20:06:35

missmouse, your post was really honest. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Lots of people who've posted on here say words to the effect of "I really wasn't sure, but went ahead and struggled. It was grim at times... but now they're grown or growing up, it has got easier and I'm not so unhappy as I was". You are a bit different, as you enjoyed the early bits but are enjoying the older years less. What's interesting to me, is that you suspected that this might happen. You knew all along that you enjoyed tots and young children. You knew that a second child might be more than you could comfortably cope with. So I'm wondering whether your doubts made the situation come true? Was it a self-fulfilling prophecy?

But you ARE coping and I'm sure you are doing a good job and that you love them, and they you. My mother sounds a bit like you. She loves and enjoys her four grown-up children but I'm pretty sure she didn't not enjoy being a mother to pre-teens or teenagers. Your relationship with your kids may continue to be bumpy for the next few years, but it will all come good in the end, I'm sure. xx

violator Wed 22-Jan-14 20:29:31

I read this thread before my DS was born.

I read it again when he was here and I was in a psychiatric hospital going through the most horrific PND. I thought I'd made the biggest mistake of my life and the sheer terror that I couldn't undo it was indescribable.

I want to thank everyone who's contributed because it's getting the message out there for anyone reading that motherhood can be and for many feels like a jail sentence.

Parenthood, and motherhood in particular, has been fetishised in our society and we are bombarded with messages and images of perfectly happy families and earth mothers who love love love every moment of their children's lives. That a child can 'fix' issues in your life. That a child is the source of unending joy. That you must have another because, you know, you can't have 'just the one'.

We all know that's not the truth.

Thankfully I'm fully recovered from my illness now and I no longer think I made a mistake. I know there will be challenging times ahead but I can do it with one child.
I do think another baby would be a mistake, I'm not sure my marriage would survive it. We won't have another.
For me, returning to work was an epiphany. Looking back I was so unbelievably frustrated at home all the time, I was bored, I was impatient, I had far too much time to think I was a bad mother and I wasn't doing it right.

The only thing I can say to anyone reading who is suffering is to reclaim a piece of yourself. Whether it's through a job, a hobby, two hours at the weekend to window shop, meet a friend or do a class. I really don't believe it's good for a woman to be mummy 24-7 and on-duty permanently.

bishbashboosh Wed 22-Jan-14 21:02:02

I promise you it does get easier!!! I have 4 children ages between 4-12 and I have time to read, visit galleries and lunch , all with my kids! It's lovely, a lot of the time

Hang in. I don't know anyone that doesn't find playing at the park and playgroups boring shockshock

expatinscotland Wed 22-Jan-14 21:03:27

I hope it gets better for you, OP, I really do.

Ja1234 Wed 29-Jan-14 01:10:18

Thank goodness I came across this thread. This has really helped me and also some of the threads have really made me laugh, I relate to all being said. Im just going to stop placing such high expectations on myself and admit that it is not what I thought it was going to be.

blackeyedsally Wed 29-Jan-14 09:53:37

Well, my wonderful 5-year relationship has just gone the same way as MidknytOwl's, sooner than I expected. I'm devastated but also relieved in a way that he was brave enough to sit me down and call it a day now, because I pretty much knew it was inevitable.

Hope you are still doing well MidknytOwl. If by any chance you're in London & fancy a drink & a chat sometime, I shall be moving there soon!

Big love to all you struggling mums, I really hope it gets easier. x

Ja1234 Wed 29-Jan-14 16:55:26

I really hope it gets easier but if doing it on your own, I wonder how. Feel overwhelmed emotionally by it all. Never thought that I would be crying so much, cry at the good things and the bad things, it is an emotional roller coaster. I don't think that ever ends does it?

MidknytOwl Sun 02-Feb-14 01:14:33

I look back at this thread periodically, and turns out the timing was good.

blackeyedsally, sorry to hear about your breakup. It sucks, terribly. Internet hugs to you. sad

One thing I'd say is trust that it was the right decision - I definitely questioned myself and second guessed the decision for months. I think that's just natural though, since you want back what you don't have, and that's the seemingly only thing keeping it that way. (And such an easy solution: just have a kid and you're back together. Never mind you're kind of throwing the rest of your life away for it.)

We've been broken up about 8 months now, and I can honestly say I'm happy with how things worked out. We still spend a very odd amount of time together, almost like the opposite of friends with benefits (celibate dating?), but he's more like my non-romantic life partner at this point, if that makes sense. Like having a gay best friend, I think. It's weird, but it works for us.

I also don't think I'd take him back if he changes his mind about the kid thing, if that gives you any hope. It's funny how someone you thought you could spend the rest of your life with can have so many flaws when you're not dating them anymore! smile He doesn't handle money as I would like, we disagree on some points that would actually be an issue with raising a child. Sometimes, he bugs the crap out of me. And he NEVER stops talking about his daughter. When he'll see her next, what she said on the phone, etc. Not only do I not care, but I can't imagine if we had had some of our own - he would never think about me, our worlds would revolve around the kids. It may be selfish but I'm much happier having my own life.

Hang in there, and as you told me initially, hopefully you'll find someone that shares your views, when you're ready. smile

(I'd love to grab a drink sometime...but I'm actually in America. Oops. Damn Yanks sneaking into your message boards. smile Should I end up that way on vacation, or if you end up in the west coast here someday, we should definitely hang out.)

ThePlEWhoLovedMe Sun 02-Feb-14 13:56:07

Hi all

Havent seen this thread in a while - I posted wayyyy up the thread under a different name. I talked about having a child at 17 and one at 29.

I just wanted to say to the newer posters that have added to this thread that yes I had a terrible time and have had to deal with my guilt. However, given the fact that you (and I) are even acknowledging these feelings stand us in better stead as parents. Surly having these feeling are normal and are best not to deny?

Also mine are now 23 and 11 - and truly are the best things I have ever done. I can sit for hours watching the 11 year old in amazement and I am so proud of how my 23 year old turned out given that her had a pretty useless mum.

DavetheCat2001 Mon 03-Feb-14 19:09:30

I sometimes find myself wishing the time away as I find looking after small children so desperately boring.

I have a DS who is 3 and a DD who is 6 months, and whilst I love them dearly, the 3 year old knows exactly how to push my buttons and I spend an awful lot of time telling him off and occasionally shouting at him, which always makes me feel sad and depressed.

Some days I am so tired I just want to slump on the sofa, but you can't with a 3 year old who is bouncing off the walls and a baby who requires regular feeding (I'm BF'ing).

I drag myself to the park and stand around freezing, windy playgrounds and wonder if this is all there is to life.

What I'd really love to do is drop them off with a grandparent for a weekend and go off with OH and have some fun..I can't remember the last time we did anything or went anywhere that didn't involve kids. Unfortunately my parents are in their mid 70's and in poor health so can't help, and OH's parents live over 3 hours away, so we have no family support. I am so envious of friends who have younger, fitter and closer parents to take their kids off to the park or away for weekends.

None of my close friends have ids seems to have skipped my generation of friends a bit (I'm 40), so I perceive them as all still having loads of freedom and going out having fun etc, and I can't..selfish I know.

Anyway..thanks for this thread. It's very comforting to know that being an 'earth mother' isn't for everyone!

I wonder too how Baboushka and the original OP are doing now...?

Shakey1500 Mon 03-Feb-14 20:58:56

Being as we're updating smile ....

I've also posted a couple of times on this thread and will keep it on watch forevermore I think.

DS is now six and a half. I struggled greatly in the beginning. I know I made the right decision to not have any more children.

Hand on heart though, I can honestly say that I no longer feel regret. Certainly not as I used to. Sure there are times where I long for some space but I realise this is within the realms of what (if I can use the term broadly without attaching any negative connotations) "Earth" mothers yearn for. I am fortunate to have family support childminding wise which means I DO get more than my fair share of "me" time (and with DH) and I'm conscious that if I didn't have that, I may still feel that regret.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there is hope that feelings can change. I certainly never envisaged that it would happen for me. Not in a million years. Despite the relief, I will always acknowledge that the depth of regret I felt was very real, needed to be understood and that I wasn't a bad person for feeling that way.

As always, much love to all of you thanks

Madcat22 Fri 14-Feb-14 13:59:56

I've got a six week old baby girl who I love terribly. However, having had PND after the birth of my DS three years ago, I am now starting to develop similar symptoms which is terrifying because it was awful last time. I was on Citalopram last time which helped but it was when my son was older than my little one so it wasn't a problem to give up BF. BF is going really well this time and I really don't want to stop but absolutely won't take any AD and BF at the same time. Feeling very lonely and isolated with no one to talk to so thought I'd post my very first ever message on MN to see if anyone had any other tips about coping with PND without AD. I'm starting CBT in 10 days time but really want someone to talk to or some informal help too so I don't feel so alone. Please help!! My babies deserve more than a depressed mummy.

harrap Fri 14-Feb-14 14:24:20

Hello Madcat-sorry you are going through this-I'm just wondering if you might get more responses if you start a new thread or with a title referring to PND.

I didn't have PND so I'm probably not the best person to comment but I'm sure there are plenty of others who can help, but they might not see your post.

LaQueenOfHearts Sun 16-Feb-14 18:20:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PPWAH Sun 11-May-14 09:32:40

After googling 'struggling with my children' I found this thread. And have spent the last hour reading through comments.
It's reassuring others find it hard and that it seems most people say it gets easier.

I think I started finding it difficult when I had to become a full time mum last year as my wage would not cover childcare. And now my husband works away through the week.

I have three boys, 6, 4, 3. For the most part they are well behaved, well mannered, thoughtful, eat well sleep well etc. On the flip side (mostly when at home) they fight, argue, whine - the little one once triggered can scream for up to two hours regularly (the health visitor is involved with this). The same routine day after day is busy, monotonous and wearing.

And I know this is just children being children and the typical life you have with children but I find it mentally exhausting and I find myself not enjoying being a mum most days. Most days my goal is just trying to get to their bedtime without resorting to shouting at them. And if I do end up shouting I spend the evening regretting it & wondering if I am somehow damaging them and wondering why I'm finding it so hard.

Also, I know really I have loving super boys, I can take them anywhere, feed them anything, put them to bed for 7pm and not see them until 7am. Which makes the guilt worse for not enjoying them.

It just feels too intense being a full time mum it feels like a constant battle and my thinking that makes me feel bad about myself and terribly guilty.

vitaminZ Sun 11-May-14 11:12:25

I think one of the problems is that women are expected to "have it all". Be mothers, have perfect bodies, have loads of friends, have the perfect relationship, go out and have a wonderful career, have loads of confidence and get up and go, have your own home etc. This is just not possible in this day and age. Everything is so stressful, so inconvenient and so expensive. Especially if you are living in London. What makes it worse is that so many mums are so snobby and competitive so if you haven't achieved one of these things (at least for appearances) you can feel really dejected, like you are not perfect. It's just so utterly draining and takes all the joy away from what used to be a natural thing.

CuriosityCola Mon 12-May-14 22:11:23


amothersplaceisinthewrong Mon 12-May-14 22:15:26

What I found the hardness was the sheer relentlessness of it all - made harder by the fact I had not a single family member (other than DH) near me to help out. The first year of baby and toddler was the worst year of my life. All worth it now though to see my 25 and 23 year old making their way in the world.

PPWAH Mon 12-May-14 22:44:01

Reading here has pinpointed what it is I struggle with. It is that it's relentless, endlessly relentless and it's the same relentless every single day, same routine, same mess, same fights to referee, same stories to read, same games to play.

I also think this competitive keeping up appearances makes you feel like you're the only one to find it hard because no one else seems to. I have to admit I do to - because you admit struggle & someone (often good friends) walk off with a spring in their step after saying in so many words they aren't struggling & listing how it's harder for them!!

Bollydarling Wed 14-May-14 00:36:37

Thanks. I can really relate to a lot of what been said and realise that I am not depressed, just not happy with my current situation.

It really is taboo to say anything negative about having children. If I am slightly down with one 'friend' who has spent the deposit for a house on IVF, I am immediately reminded of how lucky I am. Yet I have to keep stum when she says how much she needs her week long yoga retreat in Turkey. I have had a friend reshuffle since having kids.

I think for those of you considering kids I would say

If you are getting on a bit (I was 40 when DS was born and 42 when DD was born) and in any way ambivalent then don't do it. Try and ignore the pressure or deal with it outright, take the steps to ensure you don't stay in a relationship when DP/DH changes his mind about kids, find something else meaningful to fill your time etc. I'm not sure that I regret that I had kids but if I had my time again things would be different.

If you do go ahead make sure you have done your maths. Full time child care for one child can be covered by a £20k salary with a bit to spare. It costs over £2k a month for two.... And when you have moved to the sticks for a better quality of life, £35k jobs in the charitable sector are hard to come by. I didn't plan to have kids so didn't plan my career. DH earns enough for us to live on but there's nothing to spare.

Two kids also seem to be sooooo much more difficult than one so if you are in any way ambivalent about the second don't do it. Having said that my 9 month old DD is gorgeous with a sunny nature (she didn't get that from me) and seems to be an easier baby than her brother. But I am sure when he is 4 and she is 2 he will be the easier child.

Don't have preconceptions about how you will parent or let anyone tell you what to do. Have confidence in your gut instincts. Breast feeding past 6 months, baby wearing, bed sharing etc have helped me bond with children whom I think I love but have no overwhelming feelings for. For other people bottles, schedules and sleep training work as they enable them to return to work and have a break.

It is very difficult when grandparents are too old/far away to be actively involved, and the local mums I have bonded with are those that work or who will be going back to work shortly so limited opportunities for helping out with child care to give each other a break. It feels selfish to walk out the door for run as DH walks after a 12 hour day but if it means I have more patience then it isn't selfish. I personally have used baby and toddler groups as a chance for break as sometimes someone will hold the baby and the toddler can play independently, it just depends on how he is feeling. Often someone will make me a cup of coffee as well

Good luck to us all. This thread has made me realise, once again, that things are not so bad for me

vitaminZ Thu 15-May-14 08:56:41

Also, what people don't understand is that if you have children and realise it was a mistake, there is no going back, you have to live with your decision forever and it is totally taboo to admit you made the wrong decision in rl. If you take a job and it is wrong you can change jobs. If you buy a house you don't like you can sell it and move away. With children it is a one way decision which you can never reverse. Such an important decision (for mother and child) should come with a lot more warnings and real facts, not just the glossy media presentation and the "keeping up appearances" that we currently have.

HoneyBadger80 Wed 28-May-14 20:27:56

Its funny how you never love your children so much as when they are sleeping! I mean I love my DS, don't get me wrong, I have always loved him in a dutiful functional kind of way, but I have never enjoyed being a parent until recently, and even now occasionally its really tiresome...

Known affectionately to me (or not) as 'being under house arrest', it was horrid being a SAHM- just mind numbingly boring and endlessly tiring, like an 18hr job with no pay and no one to talk to, then in the other 6 hours you get to do further housework etc and maybe squeeze a bit of a snooze in here and there.

When you're a single mom, you might as well be in solitary confinement, but its even worse because you add total sleep deprivation, slave labor and mental torture that you cant share with a significant comes to something when you have seen all the episodes of peppa pig (my favorite being the one where they go ice skating) and the thing you look forward to is an episode you haven't seen, and that you have managed to learn basic sign language courtesy of Mr Tumble.

I was never maternal, people even used to comment how odd it looked if i held a friends baby (normally at arms length hoping it wouldn't puke), i have no idea why I decided to have a baby- it seemed like the right time I suppose, financially stable, engaged (although he left not long after DS was born) blah blah blah.

Turns out I'm a crap mom, not in the basic needs sense, but in the actually liking children sense. I mean if it were Neanderthal times then I'd be the most awesome mom ever- like if it were about survival of the fittest then my offspring would be chubby feral survivors.... but its not. Its a day and age where even the mere sniff of not being totally grateful and in love with motherhood gets you shot down by the mummy mafia. Those who chirp on about how fulfilling and meaningful having children is and who do arts and crafts 8 hours a day, and bake cakes with perfect princess daughters like something off a bloody flora advert.

I had post natal depression, which sucked, I dont think i really loved DS with affection until he was about 6 months old thanks to that, but i was a good mom in the functional sense (keeping things clean, keeping DS fed and watered, changed and comfortable and happily dribbling at the tweenies) for the first 18 months, it didn't get really bad until the 'terrible 2,3 and 4's kicked in, along with speech, potty training, breaking things, tantrums and the words 'no' and 'why'.

In hindsight i think i got off pretty easy as my DS was a pretty good child looking back and having experience now of other peoples kids who are far more 'naughty' than my DS was, or friends with kids who have disabilities requiring constant care... but at the time, being an exhausted single mom with no support network and no outside contact from grown ups other than my parents or family maybe once or twice a week, i used to think about walking out all the time and leaving DS with his dad or with my parents....I mean men just take off all the time without much recrimination, so why couldn't I?

NO IDEA...god i wanted to....I wanted to SO badly. I used to fantasize about running away and working in bars in greece or on cruise ships etc all the time, but there was just something that stopped me, I don't know if it was some deeper primal in-build mother love/instinct or just plain society based expectation and guilt.
I used to get to the point of packing my bags then I'd have a flash forward into how much I could screw him up emotionally. See his little face understanding that his mom didn't love him. To think I hadn't loved him enough to stay, to think he wasn't worth the effort, to think he could live his life feeling like he wasn't worthy and where those feeling of self loathing/guilt/worthlessness might take him. The kind of life he could end up living if I weren't there to keep fighting for better for him(cue tears and floods of guilt). Bloody awful times they were. It was just a cycle of misery- frustration- resentment and guilt.

It started getting easier when he turned about 5 and started to understand the world a bit better, and being more independent....I think it also helped that I started working full time about the same time.

He's 8 now, and I can say now that he's brilliant 90% of the time- he's my little mate and has a great personality and I love him to bits, I miss him now a little bit when he goes to his dads or grandparents, which is a relatively new experience as I've always enjoyed and craved my child-free time and as long as his safety was assured I'd go and have a 'single and childfree' 48 hours once every 2 weeks- where I could pretend I had my life as it was pre-DS and go back to real life on a sunday evening.

Having been just me and him for so long now, I cant imagine my life without him (wait that's not true- I imagine my life without him fondly and wistfully for 5 seconds, then realize there's only so much clubbing in Day-Glo bikinis a woman can do at the age of 34 LOL).

Its a pain in the bum all the rushing about and organizing and planning that you do when you are trying to 'enrich' your child's life, all the driving to cubs/football/cricket/parties/swimming lessons/karate/play dates...god it just goes on and on and never ends, kind of like the laundry pile created by afore mentioned extra curricular activities. I am convinced I could personally captain an elite squad of Navy seals with my military timing and planning precision.

When i look back i feel massively ashamed and guilty about all the times i resented him and the life i chose in having him, yes it was hard, yes it was tiring and thankless and exhausting and at times soul destroying. Yes I felt like I had lost who I was, and that the only thing that defined me was being a mom, that I had given up my life for 18 years.
But truth be told I was selfish and immature and not particularly nice before I had him- I realize that now. He has taught me to be truly selfless, to make sacrifices when I REALLY don't want to, to think always of someone else's future beyond my own and having him has in general made me a more patient, organized and independent person than I would ever have thought possible.

I still wear my 'bad mom' t-shirt every now and again (metaphoric of course) and scream and shout at him over small things that needn't be screamed about...and he knows to give me a wide berth on those days... but when I see the kind, sensitive, helpful, mostly polite and thoughtful boy that he is becoming already, I have hope that despite everything, despite all the negative thoughts and misery and despair i felt in the early years, and all the crying in the shower, and all the wishing I'd never had him, that he is, against the odds, going to turn out to be a lovely young man....and it absolves me a little of the guilt.
That if our children are reflections of us as parents, I cant be such a truly awful terrible incapable mother.

TBF I think I got away really lightly with him- cos he's more of a moaner than a rebel, and aside from ongoing (grrr) annoying nightly negotiations about why he has to go to bed at 8.30, he's pretty low maintenance.

I never thought i'd find myself saying i wouldn't change having him...up until the last couple of years i was still saying i regretted ever having fact i could have been voted the person most likely to build a time machine and go back and change everything so I could carry on clubbing in furry boots and run away with the circus... but now the hardest times have passed, I wouldn't change him.

....still there's the 10% of the time when I cant wait for him to grow up and sod off lol.

Hugs to everyone feeling crappy...all I can say is hopefully it will get easier for you like it has for me. And don't feel guilty if you aren't mary poppins- the mummy mafia will manage with one less member. xxxxxx

albark Thu 29-May-14 03:43:44

Honeybadger - respect!! What an amazing, refreshing, honest post.

Congratulations to each and every one go you who's posted on here - I'm serious, you are all heroes for being so honest!

I'm 35, divorced, and in a (pretty crap) relationship. I don't have kids, and all my life I've been fold that basically I'm not fulfilling my purpose.

One friend told me that the love between me and my (ex) husband wasn't as string as the love between her and hers, as they had a kid. I'm so sick of hearing about how ' I don't know heat love is' etc etc, because I've not had a child.

I'm not maternal - well, not with babies. I adore dogs, I love older kids, and am always drawn to help and support older kids that have problems - but babies just don't do it for me at all.

I'm so sick of having it rammed down my throat that I MUST have children to understand the meaning of live and life. I've always secretly been scared that if I did, I'd hate it/regret it/be awful/flings screaming baby from a window - and your postings are a JOY to read, so refreshing and honest.

THANK YOU LADIES! You all sound fabulous. Xxx

maxjnrweber Tue 03-Jun-14 00:37:45

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

HLD716 Wed 25-Jun-14 17:25:12

I am so glad I found this thread. I too regret having a child. All my time energy and money goes to a child that I regret. It makes me angry. I cant go out or do anything without her either crying or throwing a fit because Im leaving her. All I do now is work come home and take care of her. Thats it. I do not even get to shower or use the bathroom by myself and if I lock the bathroom door she screams and beats on the door until I open it.

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