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Childless & Not working - opinions please

(620 Posts)
AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 17:38:31

Hello. I am 34 and don't have any children yet. Everytime I think about it I come to mumsnet and it gives me a dose of reality. Also this article
really makes me wonder:
* Is there some consipiracy for mothers to convince other people that motherhood is the best joy in life while secretly hating every second of it?

* Is there a book someone can recommend on the 'realities' of parenthood - unspoken facts that may not be obvious.

* Mothers with teenage 19yr old or so & college age children, looking back if you simply could have traveled the world and spent time with your husband, would you have traded this for having kids? ***** be honest ****

I'm an American Expat living here in London and I don't currently work (I was previouslyin IT and had a career meltdown). I am actually not sure what todo. My husband and I are considering having kids but it scares me to death- the pain & nasty issues surrounding pregnancy that are not publicly discussed to the completely losing my mind doing baby babble all day and then to not having respect for myself because I gave up my purpose in the world, to self actualize (I haven't actualized yet for the record).

SO, I am seeking comments- whether to see if people just call me 'selfish' or say 'good for you' or whatever. Please help give me a dose of reality and what you would do if you were in my shoes!


beansprout Wed 16-Feb-05 17:42:00

AA - I really think that MN covers the reality of parenting (in my short experience so far). On here you get the full range of experiences. Any thoughts on a conspiracy are just rubbish I reckon!!! It is very hard and incredibly rewarding. If you dread the prospect, that's completely fine. I did for years and didn't have my son until I was nearly 35. Do what you want to. You are not a "better" or "worse" person for wanting or not wanting kids. Find yourself, be happy and then think about what you want to do.

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 17:44:48

you can't give the kind of reality that parenthood brings .. you can't talk someone through it

you either want to be 50 and never have had children or you would think that might be your worst nightmare

if you feel ready to have children, then do it

if you don't then don't

the pain and nasty issues surrounding having kids is discussed ad nauseum in my view

nobody tries to hide anything

but until you have a child you will never know what its like .. by then its too late

just believe there must be something good about it or everybody in life would be an only child

lockets Wed 16-Feb-05 17:45:47

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Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 17:46:37

interestingly I had my first at 33 (almost 34) my second at 37, I was previously a career woman (very high up) .. I gave it all up to be a full time mother, I would love love to have many more children

there must be something fantastic about being a parent, mustn't there?

purpleturtle Wed 16-Feb-05 17:48:17

do you feel that you should have a baby, in order to justify the fact that you're not 'working'?

i love my children, and I honestly, honestly mean it when i say that I wouldn't be without them. But then, travelling the world wouldn't really be my scene at all.

lockets Wed 16-Feb-05 17:52:32

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Pinotmum Wed 16-Feb-05 17:54:21

I had my first baby at 34 and second at 36. Until then I had a very well paid position with a multi-national company. I can honestly say I am far more fulfilled in my role as mother and although it can be challenging it is also rewarding. I feel that until I had my children I wasn't complete and now I am, if that makes sense.

ggglimpopo Wed 16-Feb-05 17:55:49

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collision Wed 16-Feb-05 17:56:28

There is such a huge life change when you do have children and at time it is overwhelming. I had ds2 13 weeks ago and have adapted much better this time round and am grateful to have 2 beautiful healthy boys. However, this isnt the case for lots of people and some suffer from PND and do have probs during PGy.

In answer to your questions, I love being a Mum and seeing my boys for the first time fell in love with them immediately. There are aspects I hate and the humdrum of it can get to me at times. I dont think many Mums would rather have travelled the world than had their children. Cant you do that now for a year or so and then have children?

At the end of the day do you really want children? Are you having them because you think you should? Are you worried by what people will say if you dont?

Dont let the thought of the pain put you off. It really isnt that bad (I had ds2 with no pain relief at all) and you can always have an epidural! Baby babble can be at a minimum if you make friends and go out and mix with other people.

Am not sure what self actualize means and Im not sure if I have ever self actualized so let me know what it is and I will let you know if I have.

For the record, having kids is the best thing ever.

posyhairdresser Wed 16-Feb-05 18:02:31

It is quite common to be childless by design nowadays and I think the general attitude is anything goes - motherhood has pros and cons as does being childless.

My advice is to stop spending your time agonising about it,and what others might think, just do what you want!

I personally think it is nice to make a contribution to the world through work that benefits others, whether paid or unpaid. But you should follow your own path. Nothing can really prepare you for parenthood but looking after someone else's children would give you some idea.

The question you ask here is too wide - it's like asking "should I work or not, what is the reality, will I like it?"

WideWebWitch Wed 16-Feb-05 18:04:23

I've only read the first page of that article but imo that woman made a classic first time parent mistake (I did it too!) of thinking she had to be 'on' and entertaining her child 100% of the time. IMO and E, children are just as happy mooching around a park with you or lolling about sometimes or just being with you: they don't need the 24/7 entertaining, all singing all dancing parent that many parents think they should be. So the author of that piece knocked herself out and says "I was proud of the fact that I could get in three full hours of high-intensity parenting before I left for work; prouder still that, when I came home in the evening, I could count on at least three more similarly intense hours to follow" Whaaaat? She was mad! We'd all lose it if we did that! No WONDER she didn't like it much! That sounds like stress and pressure, not fun and joy, which is what children can bring. I don't think I was a natural mother, I think a lot of people aren't and it can be shocking and hard and of course it's life changing. But I wouldn't change being a mother for anything, it's the best thing I've ever done. And I really do think my life was fairly meaningless before. I enjoyed myself sure and if you met me you wouldn't (I hope!) think I'm some sad sap with no interests or friends but my children have brought me so much joy and really are the most important things in my life. No-one can tell you what it'll be like though, Twiglett's right, and there's no going back once you've done it but most people don't want to go back. THere are days when I hanker after things about single childless life but I still wouldn't change it. And it's no good spending time with someone else's children either, it really is totally different when they're your own.

WideWebWitch Wed 16-Feb-05 18:05:55

Oh and the pregnancy and childbirth part aren't fun but they are SUCH a tiny, tiny part of the whole thing.

WideWebWitch Wed 16-Feb-05 18:12:20

And I've just read page 2 of the article, I don't think I can stand any more of it tbh and omg, she says "I heard of whole towns turning out for a spot in the right ballet class; of communities where the competition for the best camps, the best coaches and the best piano teachers rivaled that for admission to the best private schools and colleges." Well, I think if you turn parenting into a competition and schedule your children into activities ALL the time hey, guess what, it's going to be shite! And you will resent it. I don't think many mumsnetters will agree that this article reflects being a parent as they know it. (I will be corrected if I'm wrong, I'm sure!)

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 18:14:37

Thanks everyone for your response. Twiglett, neither having or not having kids is my worst nightmare - I grew out of having a baby doll by age 5 or 6 and never looked back or fantasized about being a mom.

I am in fact, scared because my mom was a stay-at-home mother until I was 15 and completely disrespected her and loathed that she didn't take time to improve herself/self actualize and be an inspiration to me in her line of work. If I somehow do not 'actualize' in the next year or so I am afraid I will blame my kids for my inability to achieve things in life and for me this means make a positive contribution to this world- I've told myself, anyone can reproduce it is an endeavor easilly forgotten and underappreciated, and I must do something so I am somehow remembered when I die (by ppl other than family). Maybe this is too tall of an order to fill..

I know I wouldn't be 'bothered' not having kids into my early to mid 40's but I would be possibly sad at 60-70 when I don't have any grandchildren or people to carry on my legacy (If I indeed had one!). I have discussed freezing some eggs and having kids mid 40's with my husband and he is very supportive (although he looks at children in such a longingly way it almost kills me!). I told him that before we had kids we'd a) have to get a 'real' house, b) create a parenting HR manual for reference to stop the kids from playing us off against one another and c) he would have to come home around 5pm. Now I'm thinking, maybe I could have the kids, work and he can take parental leave for 2-3 years due to lack of childcare (or we have to get a nanny)... hmmmm...

Whew! Do I sound really confused now?

As for the 'conspiracy', It is just that there are so many mixed signals. On one hand all of my friends with young kids say its wonderful and great and on the other hand, they let it out here & there about their depression, feeling lost, feeling lonely etc. I can honestly see dealing with kids aged up to 5 but having to undergo a psychological control battle with them at every turn makes me cringe especially as they enter their teens - I remember what I was like and the 'curse' scares me to death (ie. the one my mother gave me that my kids should do to me what I did to her)..

Thanks for more opinions....

lockets Wed 16-Feb-05 18:19:25

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Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 18:21:44


self-actualisation means doing what makes you feel fulfilled

it is at the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs .. which if I remember have at the bottom things like food, shelter etc .. once these are fulfilled man moves on to a need for self-actualisation (ie fulfilling oneself)

must look up old textbooks .. I'm amazed at how much I'd forgotten I knew, or knew I'd forgotten

gothicmama Wed 16-Feb-05 18:23:38

Having been somewhat in your shoes - having a dd was teh best thing I ever did - hell no more parties until dawn but what the heck - a whole new lease of life openned up for me dh is a fab dad I have gone to uni dd is happy and bright we deal with things as tehy come along re teh battles of will but hey it keeps you on your toes as fro when she is a teenager she will be as bad as me adn her dad were no doubt so long as she has fun and knows right from wrong and how to keep safe tehn our job wll have been done
well. Also not everyone can reproduce so it is aspecial gift to be seized on as a special role in life how we raise our young determines teh future of our species- it is just very easy for society to forget that

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 18:26:33

AA .. I never played with dolls .. I was a cowboys and Indians kind of gal (I always had to be the cowboy)

I remember saying to my BIL once (in late 20's) that I didn't want children .. he said well its good you worked that out because there's enough unwanted kids in the world .. it shocked me really, I hadn't thought it through really I just said it for effect .. but if I pictured myself at 50 or 60 it was with a family (not without one)

when I got to 32 I felt the clock ticking

I think you need to sit down with DH (someone who looks longingly at kids) and be brutally honest about what you want in your future

other than that no-one can tell you what to do

just don't overthink it .. some things just happen .. some things are just fun .. and it really isn't a competitive sport .. that article is complete dross btw

Lonelymum Wed 16-Feb-05 18:26:50

IMO it doesn't come down to how much work is involved, or how much pain there is in labour or any other issue mentioned. For me, the choice to have children was purely biological. There was an urge there to reproduce which could not be ignored, just as you could not deny the urge to eat or breathe. In a crude biological way, I want my genes to continue. I can't understand why everybody doesn't feel that way but plainly some people don't. If you do not feel that way, I would recommend you don't have children and get on and enjoy your child free life!

iota Wed 16-Feb-05 18:32:12

You don't miss what you've never had - a cliche but true in my case.

I never wanted children and was in my late 30s before having the 'it's now or never' discussion with dh.

we decided to let nature decide and I am now the proud owner of 2 x ds's.

Having kids opened up a new dimension in my life that you just can't envisage from the outside looking in.

No regrets here

MummytoSteven Wed 16-Feb-05 18:35:36

just a quick one - I wonder if the whole actualisation issue is a red herring - i.e. whether it is more your problematic relationship with your mum that is causing you anxiety over having kids, rather than actualisation per se. having children does of course place time/financial constrains on self-actualisation, but it's not necessarily impossible - e.g. there are members on here doing things like writing novels, training in nursing/midwifery whilst having young children.

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 18:42:21

why do you think "I must do something so I am somehow remembered when I die (by ppl other than family)."

what benefit will that bring to the rest of your life?

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 18:43:29

Twiglett... thinking about it, I would almost rather adopt one day then have kids myself due to the orphans etc. Growing up, my best friend had an adopted chinese sister and one of my closest friends in uni was an adopted Korean girl brought up by a British/American couple. I really respect adoption. Hubbie wants to pass his genes on hands down.

Lonelymum, I simply do not see how a person says, I am meant to reproduce so therefore I will and then forget about oneself and ones purpose & lifes risks (divorce, economics, kids psychological wellbeing) completely. I see so many angry messed up & violent 14-16 yr olds it is unbelievable and I would die if I helped create such a terror. Thankfully my marriage is rock-solid and I totally love my hubbie of 4 yrs.

snafu Wed 16-Feb-05 18:45:55

<<As for the 'conspiracy', It is just that there are so many mixed signals.>>

That's probably because it is mixed! Because it is wonderful and yet sometimes you do feel f££king miserable. Because it's the single most fulfilling thing I've ever done, and also the most brain-meltingly boring thing at times.

<<anyone can reproduce>> - umm, no they can't.

<<I must do something so I am somehow remembered when I die (by ppl other than family)>>

It is possible to have children and still respect yourself, you know. In fact, having children completely focused me on what I actually wanted to achieve in the world, careerwise, and I have far more respect for myself now than I ever did when I was arsing around wondering how to make my mark. Having a kid was my cue for 'self-actualisation', to borrow your phrase, and in ways that had absolutely nothing to do with nappies or mother & toddler groups.

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