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Does anyone else regret having children?

(441 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?

bigchris Sun 05-Jul-09 22:24:47

some excellent advice on this thread

just to add : have you told dh how u feel
u need to get him on board so you cam sort sleeping issue out together, ds needs to go in his own bed and you and dh need to reconnect - try date nights, pizza and dvd, just snuggle up togethef , you sound like u could use a hug

how ru financially? could you afford playgroup a couple of times a week? then you would get some time to yourself

Melaniefhappy Wed 15-Jul-09 21:06:03

Hi everyone,

I totally empathise with all said below. I had a great career, followed by a period as a very happy and busy independent consultant.

WE then decided to have children but so far, ONE of us has a satisfying, enjoyable, stimulating career, and the other one battles depression on a daily basis. I know that I am not SAHM material but early on, with two kids very close together, we could not afford simultaneous nursery fees (over £2000 in our area, per month). I could not continue in consultancy due to the hours but a part-time role would not have covered the £2K a month (pre tax).

Now my youngest is going to school in Sept and I am delighted (as is she) but I know that if I want to return to work for someone else it will be ME that does it all ....AND work! By this I mean it will be ME doing the packed lunches, book bags, getting kids up, ironing outfits, driving to school, and all other admin as necessary- all before work then it will be (you guessed it) ...ME picking up kids - oh an 18 hour day YIPPIE!!! Just to get some intellectual stimulation and not to be alone 24/7. The loneliness I feel is crippling. Believe me I am trying everything to find a solution.

At every step it is my life that comes last. He cannot drive to school due to working 1.5 hours away. When the children were tiny I genuinely felt suicidal and would call him to bring home a bottle of wine (which I would polish off).

I still feel incredibly trapped, professionally resentful and deceived. I wish I had the energy to write a book for women trying to decide whether to have children ....confirming that if men they say they'll be involved they WON'T BE as they CAN'T BE!!! Society, and the way jobs work, means that men cannot support us as they wish to, and the extended family has more or less decided to follow golf, art or another lovely activity.

It was the latter that I found overwhelming also- the grandparents that I had asked for support PRE birth were not surely those that buggered off and played golf POST birth. Too selfish to help regularly is the reality- ours all live locally (less than five miles) but have golf, art, riding etc!!!!. If they knew how close they had come to not having a daughter in law to cook the sodding Christmas lunch then perhaps they would have helped more, instead of (one set in particular) waiting for their perfect daughter to finally produce offspring (which I know they would find it in their heart to help with).

SORRY!!! Too much wine and feeling so trapped. Amazed that mumsnet features suicide/mental health help at the start of this section. Why doesn't society realise just how awful it is to educate women, give them career freedom and then imprison them at home as there is no way to combine two careers by working part-time each and pay the mortgage etc?

Thanks for reading
Tired, lonely, love the kids but wish WE looked after them instead of ME ALL THE TIME.

allgonebellyup Sun 26-Jul-09 18:32:35

i can totally identify with what you are saying too.

i have a 9yr old dd and 5yr old ds, and ds still comes in and sleeps with me every night. He is very demanding during the day too and i dont even get to pee without him following me.

i didnt enjoy staying home looking after them and it is only now i can say/realise that, as i work full time now and i love my job- it actually makes me feel like a person and not just this screaming woman whose only purpose in life is to clear up all the mess left behind from 2 kids.

i dont think i could ever have another child, i am not cut out for being a sahm and i certainly have no patience for babies.
Sometimes i do wonder how my life would have been if i hadnt had them so young (20).

slowreadingprogress Sun 26-Jul-09 18:45:04

Zahora, I really think that you need a revolution in your house. You are clearly either very depressed or utterly unsuited to be a full time mum. Nothing wrong with either of those things!

What IS wrong is letting your child be brought up in that atmosphere ("ds is upset and holds me with terror saying 'mummy'") I honestly think if your DH refuses to step in and take over that you could do something like sell up, downsize, rent - whatever it takes to get you able to leave the house and get him cared for by someone who wants to care for him. I think that's the best thing you could do for him and there is again, nothing wrong in the best person NOT being you. (in future, the best person may well be you, why the hell not? Kids change alot and as parents we all have strengths in different areas and at different times)

the other thing that occurs to me is to write down for your GP what you have said about how you are with your ds. I am unqualified to say whether you are depressed or not but to be honest your doctor needs all the facts to make a proper diagnosis.

If you can gird your loins to act now, I think the benefits will come to you in the future; happy you, happy ds....

and again, it may take some loin-girding but your DH needs to HELP YOU!

sanae Sun 26-Jul-09 19:07:45

Hi Zahora,

I'm glad you have had the courage to post on here. When I am with my children (I have 3) all the time I just can't wait to get away from them, get angry over little things, don't want to listen to them, feel a bad mother. I work part time and it makes all the difference - I love them and am much more the mother I want to be. I am sure you would feel like this if you could work a bit, you would appreciate your child so much more and be the mum you want to be. Why do you say you can't work - surely it would be worth it for your sanity and happiness even if you spent all your wages on child care.

expatinscotland Sun 26-Jul-09 19:11:37

The rearview mirror is 20/20, so to speak.

If I could go back in time 10 years knowing exactly what I know now, basically move myself back in time, then no, I wouldn't have had children, tbh.

I wouldn't be where I am now.

But that's not going to happen, and my life is full of regret already.

So instead of regretting having children, I work ever day to make sure I never do anything with them that I'll regret later on.

In other words, I focus on doing my best to make sure no more regrets.

allgonebellyup Sun 26-Jul-09 20:48:05

i have to add that the isolation is what made having kids so hard, bar the odd visit from friends and family during the week. For the majority of the day i would be alone wiht my dd and my ds who was a baby, and i didnt know it at the time but i was as miserable as sin .

Sasha506 Mon 27-Jul-09 10:42:34

I absolutely identify will all of the postings here. I wasn't at all sure that I wanted children. I had no experience of them as I was the youngest in the family (at 35!) My husband desperately wanted them, though and his mother and my mother deserately wanted grandchildren so I was made to feel like some sort of pariah for hesitating. I thought "why not?" and went ahead, then I found out why not. I had a daughter at 35 and another daughter at 37. They are now 21 and 19. I have photographs of us all as a family when they were 5 and 3 years old and I look as though I am suicidal, and I felt it too. My older daughter only became livable with when she left home and went to university, but she still comes home for extended stays in the holidays and we still clash like we always have. The main problems have been with my younger daughter who was born with mild learning difficulties. The problems have been catastrophic and still are. The only way I have survived this long is to keep working - I hung on to my job with my fingernails, even when most of my salary was going on nursery fees. My advice to anyone thinking about having children late in life is this - unless children mean the world to you, unless you think your life would not be complete without them and unless you can accept the complete loss of life as you knew it - dont do it!! And yes, if I could turn back the clock 22 years I wouldn't have done it, either.

Fieryspark Tue 26-Jan-10 21:11:30

So glad I found this thread and to hear from other women who feel the same... I have two dds 8 and 2 and not a day goes by when I don't think if only I'd really really known ten years ago what I'd be letting myself in for I would never have even contemplated having children. I am now a sahm which I never aspired to be but gradually moved into it after it became apparent that my eldest dd has a disability - not apparent until she was two. In my case too my dh was the one who was so desperate for children (and his mother! - for grandchildren). However the bulk of the minutiae of childrearing has fallen to me. I love them so much and do take pleasure in them but, it in no way compensates for the radical change to my old life. Life now revolves around SEN issues and various medical appointments and dealing with tantrums plus broken nights with the youngest. I have told my dh that I shall be advising my girls not to have children unless they are absolutely desperate for them and even then only if their partner is prepared to risk his career by being a SAHD!! Feel like I am swimming in treacle most days - uphill!

Zahora Tue 02-Feb-10 01:12:35

Hi Fieryspark, you seem to have revived this thread.

I started this thread last year when I was feeling really low. Most days I would think of just packing my bags and walking out. I still haven't shaken those feelings off entirely. I have decided to not have anymore children though.
I'm still a stahm. Mainly because to get to and from work takes 2 hours everyday. I'd need to look for something closer to home. I've lost all my confidence. Might have something to do with not having properly slept for 3 years. I feel so detached from the outside world. When I'm in shops or restaurants, I find I can't really articulate myself. I can't even read a paper thoroughly. How can I create project plans, or make decisions or concentrate on work? It scares the hell out of me. I'm so embaressed of what I have become I try and avoid people from my 'old life'. So really, that's why I'm a stahm now. I don't tink I could work even if I wanted to.

Dh helps out more now. He takes ds to nursery and will help dress him and takes him out sometimes.

LadyG Tue 02-Feb-10 03:57:39

Aah Zahora so glad you seem a little better. Yes we all have attention deficit disorder following children. It is hard to regain your confidence even though I have always worked.

Have you looked at one of the 'Buddhism for Mothers' series of books or at mindfulness and meditation in general? It helped me when I was at a low point struggling with going back to work with two kids a DH who works long hours and a mid-life crisis precipitated by turning 40 (mid life crisis ongoing but that's a different story)
A lot of it is about letting go of perceptions of how your life ought to be whether that relates to your 'old life' or some ideal of 'perfect' motherhood and enjoying the present moment. There is a thread about mindfulness/meditation in the Mental Health section and also in Philosophy/Religion/spirituality.
Also exercise is something that has helped me hugely in the past with good mental health and which I really feel the need to do again. Of course you may have given al these things a try in which case excuse my middle of night ramblings!

Zahora Tue 02-Feb-10 13:05:18

Thank you for your advice. I do truly appreciate it, even though I've turned negative about it all.

LadyG, I've got the buddhism for mothers book, I really enjoyed reading that during the first year of baby. It was very good and did help. I agree with you about it all LadyG. I need to change my perception. And that's what I've been trying to do to cope so far. Your middle of the night ramblings are still very wise

Unfortunatley, I don't totally buy into it. In changing my perception, and standards of what is real happiness, and being grateful everyday, for being alive and having a healthy child and home, for the blades of grass sticking out through my patio - I realise that happiness, real roaring orgasmic adrenalin filled mind-blowing happiness I used to feel regularly before ds will never happen to me again.

I've considered divorce several times. If I get a divorce, I won't get even the 10% help from dh. It will be me and ds on our own, gassing myself in the middle of the night I suspect.

LadyG Tue 02-Feb-10 21:42:44

Zahora I don't 'buy it ' 100% either but I don't think you have to in order to benefit. I imagine getting to that place of equilibrium where one can really see the joy in everyday is a slow process! However I do feel sometimes it helps me regain a sense of perspective when dealing with the multiple trivial but trying things that children bring to ones life...
Speaking as someone who has been pretty depressed recently you do sound depressed.
For me it was the realisation that even things that ought to be 'pleasurable' eg spending time with family and friends even getting some time shopping on my own (took a day off work to go Christmas shopping) seemed worthless and a burden. This has made me realise that I am in a depression albeit 'reactive' and this negative person is not the one that I want to be for the rest of my life.
When I do manage to 'switch off' my crazy mind it does give me so much relief and I have had 'glimpses' of that pure pleasure you speak of.
Can you try sleep management techniques? (won't give you advice about that as my four and a half year old regularly gets into our bed-I don't even wake up so haven't been able to do much about it-the 18 month old is a darling and never gets up....)
How about counselling? Further study either with a view to work or purely for pleasure? A book club? Rediscovering old interests? I used to really love music and hadn't listened to anything new for 5 years or so. Spent the last couple of months discovering and downloading new or 'new to me' bands-online in my kitchen.
I relate to your feelings so much and would have felt as you do had I become a stay at home mum-and I am sure so many many others do and hopefully will be along with words of greater wisdom..

topsi Wed 03-Feb-10 11:03:42

I feel very similar to you. I absolutely love my DS (3) to pieces but looking after him can feel like a prison sentence.
I too loose it sometimes and scream and cry and tell myself I hate my life and want to run away.
DH and I share very little and over the course of the last 3 years have gone from being very content together to very little intimacy at all.
I feel very grey and look forward to when DS starts school.
He is a fab little boy and I honestly think the world of him and would walk over broken glass for him but he can drive me up the wall.
I long for my relationship with DH to go back to how it was, I long for more sleep.
I do suffer from depression and am getting some help from professionals but life is still difficult.
I work part time and though the effort of getting ready for work and facing other people seems dreadfull some days, it really does help to have a break and think of something else for a few hours. I actually feel less tired and fed up at work than when at home.
Give the job situation a thought and I would go back to your GP and be honest with how things are at home for you.
Take care x

Zahora Wed 03-Feb-10 13:22:23

Thank you for your advice. I will start looking for a job. I'll have to discuss it with dh. When I've mentioned it before to him, he has point blank refused for me to get a job. He doesn't think anyone can look after ds like his own mother. He refuses to sympathise with how I feel and thinks I am making his fantasy life into an ordeal. He would have 12 kids if he could. He says that if he can provide and we are financially ok, he does not see the point of me rushing around. He's threatened that If I go back to work, he will give up his job 'to show me how easy it is to look after ds as a stahm. And the house would be immaculate when he is at home!'.

Can you believe this? Did I really ever love this man? He has me in such a tight trap. If I leave, I will have to do it all and he will have access to ds. If he gave up work, we wouldn't really manage on my wages, even if I worked full time. And he wouldn't really look after ds. They just seem to wait for me to get back. And he's a twat who would give up after 2 days and make me give my company the runaround. He is very controlling. I know If I left I'd be ok. Working with less expenses and smaller place. But dh apart from this is a good dad so ds would miss out and it's absolutely not the life I imagined. I feel trapped in my life that we created.

It's not really even that I don't like children. I'm a wonderful mum. Despite the outbursts. Ds and I have an amazing relationship and he's so happy and healthy. I really wonder why my marriage has broken down, and dh is so unsympathetic. His mum had 8 children and coped. That's really the main point. The other threat he has made regarding work is he will bring his mum to live with us to look after ds if I go back to work. This is crazy as the mil needs more looking after and would just mean I work, and come home and work and he criticises everything not being perfect. I have low self esteem now and just seem to plod along like a zombie.

I suppose maybe this is what I regret the most. I wish I had listened to my instincts and not had a child with this man. I am only now realising how controlling he is.

I have decided to grit and bear it really and make sure dh looks after us properly, since that seems to be his calling in life. Just booked a holiday in March on his credit card. If not work, I will start an art course in September when ds goes to pre-school. But I just wonder how my life has fallen apart and why I let it. It seems to have happened since ds, but really I think some men trap women like this. And women just somehow cope.

LadyG, I totally agree with the music thing. I recently realised I didn't recognise any names in the charts and have spent time downloading music, and listening to it while on the treadmill. Music is so uplifting. I'm feeling tons better. Ds is in nursery now, I'm just going off to have a run and then lunch. xx tc

GBG Wed 03-Feb-10 14:09:46

Hi Zahora,

Just wanted to say hello, I have felt like you in the past. Pre-children I thought I could do anything, that the world was my oyster, now I feel completely useless and also frightened of getting back into the job market.

I do however have an excellent hands on husband and I think that´s the difference here. I have always had regular time away from the children, regular night classes, weekends away, etc. Then I´m happy to come home again, having been "me" again for a time. What is to stop you going out with friends once a week for example? What experience does your DH have of looking after your lo on his own? How does he know it is so easy and the house would always be immaculate? He hasn´t done anything to show this has he? Why haven´t you pointed this out to him?

Why do you have to ask permission from your dh to get a job? Why does he threaten you that his mother will come to live with you? Do you accept that he is the dictator and you have to do everything he wants just because he earns the money? Why might you ALLOW yourself to be incredibly unhappy just because it would satisfy your dh´s need to have a sahm for a wife? You so need to take control of your own happiness and your dh doesn´t seem to have YOUR interests at heart. I so don´t want this to sound harsh, I hope it doesn´t. It just sounds like you have been so unhappy for a long time and he is doing the necessary to make sure it continues!

I have to go now unfortunately, but I wish you all the best, I hope I´ve given some food for thought, would love to hear how you turn things around and even get back to work´. I haven´t aken that step yet, and wish I had the courage!

coldtits Wed 03-Feb-10 14:12:36

Your life does not have to be like this. It's not having a child that has has caused the problem, it's being married to one.

adelicatequestion Wed 03-Feb-10 17:31:22

"He's threatened that If I go back to work, he will give up his job 'to show me how easy it is to look after ds as a stahm. And the house would be immaculate when he is at home!'. "

What you waiting for? Take him up on his offer and leave him to it!!

Sounds like he doens;t want a wife - just a baby making machine and cleaner.

Sorry - not in good mood today...........

LadyG Wed 03-Feb-10 22:02:22

Glad you are feeling better Zahora.
Interesting hearing about your husbands views- I'm from an Indian background and these rather 'traditional views' are very prevalent.
However though my husband is not from the same background (working class British) and in theory is very much in favour of women working men helping out at home etc etc in practice the division of work vs home/childcare has ended up being very traditional.
We are after all just a generation or two away from an era in which only poor women whose husbands couldn't support them had to work and his mother who is very much of that era says things like 'women had a great deal-those feminists just went and ruined it for everyone.' I have seriously discussed him having the SAHD role at a time when I was working full time and he was made redundant and he just was not up for it.
I suppose what I am saying is that your husband is just like most husbands (maybe not most MN husbands but we are a particularly erm feisty lot....)
Taking a positive attitude and pursuing some of your own interests and looking into work when your son is a little older may be better than hanging on to resentments.....of course I wish I could only practice what I preach

Zahora Wed 03-Feb-10 22:33:20

grin @ name coldtits! I had those earlier today.

It's good to hear other women's opinions.
I am feeling a lot better. Have tried to 'live in the moment' a lot today. Ds is asleep and it feels wonderful right now. I won't complain.

thank you ladies tc xx

KittyLitter Wed 03-Feb-10 23:00:24

The OP's post really struck a cord with me. I had my children late in life. DC1 was born when I was 38 and DC2 a couple of weeks before my 40th birthday.
Prior to meeting DP I'd been a professional in The City and enjoyed a very adult, childfree existence centred round selfishness and indulgence really.
I am now a SAHM (not really through choice but due to financial reasons) and struggle quite a bit most days. My kids are 3 and 1. I feel so lonely, fustrated, bored and underconfident.
I love my kids so so much but I worry there is something wrong with me because although I do everything to care for them, I often feel I don't enjoy them.
This thread has helped me feel less of an unnatural, coldhearted freak.
I hope as my children grow older things get easier and I can have a bit of "me" back again.
I often overdrink at weekends to release the misery and relieve the boredom which I know is an unhealthy habit.

Olifin Sat 06-Feb-10 23:10:43

Thanks ladies for your honesty. I relate to a lot of what's been said here. Too late at night to tell my story now but, needless to say, I have a lot in common with many of you.

It's so, so good to know I'm not on my own.

Manda25 Sun 07-Feb-10 12:43:47


I like to think that i am a good mother - i just don't enjoy being a mother to anyone under 5 or 6 !!
I don't enjoy playing board games, watching kids tv, painting, play dough etc However, as mine got older (19 & 7 now) i did find i enjoyed doing lots of other stuff with them ...swimming (when you don't have them clinging to your neck) cinema, bowling, reading to them, out for meals, skiing etc.

I don't beat myself up about it - i just find young kids mind numbing - i went back to work 2 days a week when the second one was 5 months old ....i pretended to people it was because i needed the money - i didn't! It was the perfect set up for us because i did start to enjoy our time together knowing that in a few days i would be going back to work and so it wasn't the only thing i had to look forward to

topsi Sun 07-Feb-10 15:31:56

So it does get easier then Manda25 ? or just different? Think i will enjoy it more when DS is older and we can enjoy similar things together. He is a right handful most days from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to bed. Constant whining and being disageable.
I have found it all such hard work and a constant strain that i don't know if we will have number 2.
Love him all the same.

countrylover Sun 07-Feb-10 19:29:48

Manda25 please do tell us more...I have two DS's and I adore them beyond belief but I don't enjoy being a mother one little bit. I think I'm a shit mum too - I get angry, I have little patience and every other parent I meet seems somehow to 'cope' so much better than me.

I'd love to know when it gets easier...mine are 4.5 and 9 months..DS2 spends most of the day moaning and whining to be held and DS1 gets it in the neck because I'm at the end of my tether. As I said, I'm a shit mum. I'd like to know when you start to feel like you're a good mum.

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