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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.

Branster Wed 16-Feb-05 18:46:16

God AA it's like I hear myself thinking in quite a few of your comments!

Slinky Wed 16-Feb-05 18:47:57

I ALWAYS wanted children - I never envisaged a life without them and I am extremely lucky to have been blessed with 3 beautiful children.

There are people out there who assume that if you're not slogging your guts out in some high-powered career then you're not making a "contribution to society" - well I AM! I may have dropped out of the "rat race" to raise my kids - but in that I have produced 3 wonderful, caring, kind and confident little kids who will HOPEFULLY go on to be caring, kind and confident adults - that's my "contribution to Society"

I don't think there is a "Conspiracy" in Motherhood - everyone has "down" days, but these are far outweighed with the "good" ones.

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 18:48:52

AA .. I am really not having a go .. I think its quite thought-provoking .. so please don't take offence .. and if you don't want to examine this any further please feel free to ignore my posts

that said I wonder

do you want to adopt because other people will say 'oh what a worthy thing she has done' ..that could link with your expressed need for other people's approval of your actions ... I am wondering whether you have a deep-seated need to be approved of and worry about being a mother (genetic mother) in case your children reflect badly on you?

Frizbe Wed 16-Feb-05 18:49:15

Sounds like you should go and read 'The Alchamist' By Paulo Cohelo, if you haven't already! Good for making you think?

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 18:51:45

Mummy to Steven... assuming a mothering role (nursing,childcare etc.) to me is not actualization.. I'm more into import/export, inventions, science and bringing home a humongous amount of $$ / pounds to allow me a financially stress free situation. Right now hubbie brings home the pounds & yes it is in huge quantities but I want to be able to say I contributed economically and to the success of our 'family' to a large degree. The past 2 yrs I've helped hubbie so that he's been in a few newspapers and interviewed by a major industry magazine and yes he is successful, I just want to ensure that I achieve some sort of success for myself don't I owe it to myself? So financially I have few constraints in my quest to actualize I just have to get off of my butt & do something about it and do it very soon or I fear I may never get a chance again if I am not successful (a successful inventor/entrepreneur) by the time I have kids (should I get the guts to make that leap one day).

Slinky Wed 16-Feb-05 18:52:28

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

Actually to pick up on that comment - my aunt died suddenly and unexpectedly at the end of January. She SLOGGED AND SLOGGED her guts out in her job, always relied on to do extra overtime and took a huge pride in her job.

Well, she died 23 January - and I can guarantee (in fact I KNOW) that life in her workplace has carried on without her. She's no doubt been replaced by someone else and everything's plodding along as usual.

Branster Wed 16-Feb-05 18:53:03

AA I'll get back to this thread later tonight and add a few of my thoughts if that's OK. Why are you on MN, BTW? Just being nosey. I'll be back later!

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 18:53:22

Frizbe I had to go look that up, because I'd never heard of it .. it sounds great .. any book that can be reviewed on a parr with Johnathon Livingston Seagull must be worth a read .. thanks

The alchemist on amazon

lockets Wed 16-Feb-05 18:55:59

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AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 18:58:48

Twiglett, no problem & no offense - it was a good question for thought.

The funny thing is, I really am somewhat eccentric and do not seek others approval as a matter of habit. I wrote in this forum to get opinions & to provoke my thought.

The adoption thing is a bit out of feeling bad for the lonely kids in the world and (maybe) hoping that perhaps they would appreciate a mother whereas a genetic child might not. So perhaps the need for appreciation and to feel valued in my existence is what I seek (but doesn't everyone seek this on some level every day?) Also, my hubbie had 3 ppl die in his family from genetic problems and although he was recently told he is not a carrier I am scared i'll have a kid with medical problems. I dated him for 4 years, accepting early that we might not be able to have children for this very reason so it just sunk in.


Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 18:59:27

Even if I say so myself I used to be top of my field (board level) .. I created and ran some superb campaigns .. I developed new brands, won international awards .. I have a portfolio of brands to die for in my office upstairs

I left work in 2002 and there is barely a ripple on the surface of my very small work world

money is money, work is work

motherhood is amazing

but that's my take on it

You obviously feel the need to acheive something, so you don't want children

I think the most important thing for you to do is tell your DH that .. after all he looks 'longingly at children' .. that could be a problem in your relationship .. but hopefully not

Newyearmum Wed 16-Feb-05 19:02:41

The only way I can describe my experience of having a baby in a nutshell is to say that after my Dad died of cancer I woke up shocked and depressed every day for months.

Now I have my baby girl I wake up full of joy

And that's the truth - it doesn't matter how tired I am or how hard the night was

You can be exhausted and still full of joy

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 19:03:17

that last one wasn't in response to yours AA

if DH is not a carrier (assume he has been gene tested) then he can't pass it on to his children

adopted children are by no means 'grateful', it can actually be a much harder ride I would assume ..

I know one thing for sure few children 'value' or 'appreciate' its parent as a teenager, but hopefully they grow through that .. they are certainly full of love / adoration / appreciation at this age (mine are 4 and 9 months) though

fisil Wed 16-Feb-05 19:08:16

w.r.t. books, I want to have a baby? was very useful for me when I was going through the whether to have children debate.

I've only skim-read through this thread, but I can only say that having children has been the most wonderful experience of my life, but has also landed me with long periods off work and on ADs (it's the pregnancy that has done this to me, and as people have said, I know it is only for a short time and I'll be better once he's out!). It is a massive step to take and it's never going to "solve" anything, I think it's a decision you have to take for positive reasons only!

Tinker Wed 16-Feb-05 19:10:42

I think you only really learn to appreciate your own parents is when you become one yourself.

Sorry, might have missed it but, why are you not working now if work is very important to you?

coppertop Wed 16-Feb-05 19:10:58

I agree with WWW about the article. It's a completely unrealistic expectation to have about being a parent. I can't be bothered with competitive parenting. I do what I think is best for us as a family and have no interest in whether the Jones' take their little darlings to the 'best' schools/classes/activities.

I don't think you should let yourself be pressured into doing something you don't want just because it's something you think you should be doing. Not every woman wants children. I have an older sister who has always said that she definitely doesn't want a child. She asked if she could be sterilised but as she was still in her 20's the doctors told her that she should wait. She's now in her late 30's and still hasn't changed her mind and seems very happy with this decision.

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 19:11:03

Lockets,.. Self actualization is only brought about by freeing one from religious conditioning & pretenses so I am afraid this novel will not work for me. Especially even more so because I am atheist. Now if we only had a novel about successful women 'doing it all' & having kids... I grew up on the magazine "Working Woman" and thus was brainwashed that being a supermom is possible. Not so, according to the article in newsweek and hearing ppl on mumsnet...

morningpaper Wed 16-Feb-05 19:12:40

I'd recommend The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Everything and Why We Pretend It Doesn't by Susan Maushart. This is the most honest account of motherhood I have ever read.

I personally agree with the poster who said something about waking up 50 and childless and thinking this is the worst of all outcomes.

lockets Wed 16-Feb-05 19:13:06

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morningpaper Wed 16-Feb-05 19:16:20

Reading the MSN article you have quoted DOES make me wonder whether you might feel this way if you are always feeling in a bit of a 'melt down'... Babies won't fill the gap and give your life a purpose. For me, working part-time doing a job I really enjoy makes me feel grounded and in tune with the adult world. You will, after all, only be 'at home and not working' for 15 years or so... you still have a lot of life to live after that.

leglebegle Wed 16-Feb-05 19:24:16

AA, you talk of work as if it is the be all and end all of life, whereby each day is filled with joy, excitement, challenges, great money and interesting colleagues. Oh if only life were like that! You have talked of motherhood as having bad days and your friends letting it slip that they are sometimes lonely etc. Well yes, that's life isn't it? I had (and will be having again in July when ds2 is 1 and starting nursery) a great job, and an interesting one. But I had really bad days. Boring one's, scary one's, annoying colleagues, and sometimes I really questioned what on earth I was doing or why I was doing it. So I guess my point is, if you have a 100 percent fantastic time at work, and every day is filled with sunshine and happiness and leaves you with a feeling you have contributed to the world, they lucky you! I'm guessing not though if you are currently not working due to a 'melt down'. I'm not having a go at you I just think you have an idealised view of work v motherhood. They are both hard, they are both sometimes crap. But work doesn't love you, it really doesn't, your children do. The office will tick over with or without you, your family won't. I have to say in all honesty, it doesn't sound to me like you are in the right frame of mind to have a child, and I only say this because you asked when you started the thread. I don't think you are selfish, I just think you don't want them and that's fine!

Newyearmum Wed 16-Feb-05 19:25:01

'What Mothers Do' by Naomi Stadlen talks about the lack of self-esteem often felt by new mothers, especially those coming from a 'full-time working' role, and talks honestly about the mother-baby relationship. It is full of the personal thoughts and experiences of Mums.

I found it really clarified my thoughts during the last trimester of pregnancy (although a bit late by then to change my mind )

anchovies Wed 16-Feb-05 19:26:37

I used to think a career was everything but it's funny what a surprise baby can do to completely change your ideas. Completely changes your perspective on life and what's important. The emphasis on money has been entirely replaced by family. However having said that I am only 24 and am glad I finished my doctorate as I can also look forward to the challenges once as
morningpaper says these next 15 years are over.

motherinferior Wed 16-Feb-05 19:26:46

SHe doesn't really bring a political analysis to bear, does she, that writer? I mean where's the idea of shared parenting, or changing work structures - she nods to 'family friendly practices' but only insofar as they might make it possible to work 24/7 as opposed to parent 24/7.

Me, I frequently wonder what I've done with my life. I'm knackered, I spend rather a lot on childcare, and I haven't been to the movies in ages (and actually I'm a rather privileged middle-class mummy who works from home four days a week and has a partner who actively co-parents). But on balance, I would much much much rather my life had gone down this track than the one it was on when I rather unexpectedly conceived DD1. I like my little girls, they're beautiful and sweet and funny and nice to be with.

But I'd have had a fine life without them too. And I totally respect the friends who, like Coppertop's sister, are so clear they don't want kids that they've opted for sterilisation.

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 19:28:01

Twiglett- I understand though - you've done some great things and you can hold your head high and tell stories to your kids and they will be proud of their mom for years. You will know that you really contributed towards buying the home you live in and winning a few awards means that should you decide to reenter the field even in a few years, you have the network to do so.

I haven't reached my full potential - all I've done is build a few websites for large corps and have networked with recruiters & reporters & such in my hubbies line of work. The social roles I have in various local organizations don't really impress me, they just give me something to put down as ways I've 'contributed'. I've 'retired' from web dev and have considered recruitment as a field but it is not 'good enough' - I have a few ideas and want to explore modelmaking & manufacturing processes for my ideas, if I only get the courage up. Being an expat in England is a great excuse, I don't know too many people on a personal level and personal relationhips are what is needed to really assemble a company.

Right now I will keep discussing the baby route as a matter of curiosity and planning while finding a way to bring my desired reality into fruition.. thanks for your contribution btw...

My sister-in-law is at the top of her field and her kids age 4-6-8 really respect her whereas their father has been without work for years and is not respected by his wife. Respect is very important in a family and although my hubbie respects me I need to do a bit more to respect myself a bit more...

Of course when they hit 15 they'll want to see their mom in action doing what she does best.

I do believe they'll challenge you to grow & reinvent yourself.

leglebegle Wed 16-Feb-05 19:32:24

AA - I do understand where you are coming from by the way. It is true that if you are the sort of person whereby you want to have achieved something before you have children, then you absolutely should. You would only end up feeling bad about yourself if you didn't and that would impact on all the family. Why don't you give yourself a limit, say 2 years and work all out to get where you want to be and then re-evaluate your situation. In the mean time you could honestly assess whether you really want children and what it means to you. Just a thought.

anchovies Wed 16-Feb-05 19:36:06

Personally I find it strange that achievements can only be academic/work related?

My mum stayed at home with us and has never had any sort of a career yet I admire and respect her more than anyone for the achievements she made within her family. I think until parenthood is respected as an achievement in its own right it will never be the best choice for you.

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 19:38:18

Oh I dunno though AA

I think by the time your children are old enough to care about what their parents are like they are extremely disinterested in what went before .. they will never know what I was (although its on their birth certificates) .. they will probably judge me based on what I am then .. whatever happens I will come up lacking .. such is the nature of teenagers .. as long as I can laugh at them, who cares? they'll grow through it hopefully

I don't think I'll ever go back into the business world though .. can't imagine caring enough about it any more .. I have thoughts of re-training eventually as a speech therapist but that's another life in a few years time and may not happen

I think you can be extremely proud of having a creative past in developing web sites ..

it sounds like your creative energies really need to go into something else for you to feel good about yourself (something that isn't a child that's for definite), but you might (just might) be building excuses already on why you may not acheive it .. what's that about then?

morningpaper Wed 16-Feb-05 19:39:27

Frankly I don't give a toss about my parent's work/career achievements.

lockets Wed 16-Feb-05 19:40:04

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Tinker Wed 16-Feb-05 19:42:03

I'm confused about this respect business. Why is it only based upon being "top in your field"? Why not on how kind, thoughtful etc you were?

lockets Wed 16-Feb-05 19:47:49

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WideWebWitch Wed 16-Feb-05 19:50:18

AA, you say "I want to be able to say I contributed economically and to the success of our 'family' to a large degree" - I think being a parent is contributing economically and to the success of one's family but parenthood in general and motherhood in particular isn't valued much in our society. And it doesn't sound as if you think it's an important contribution either. This isn't a criticism, just an observation based on what you've said about your own mother. If it's kudos you're after (maybe it's not, maybe it's 'self actualization') I don't think parenthood will provide it because parenthood alone (however well you do it) doesn't get you much kudos. But being a parent doesn't mean you can't do other things, have other interests, have a life. It's just a different life and a parent's priorities are different to those of a non parent. I think you do need to talk to your husband about this if he is longing for children. And I wouldn't worry about the genetics (Tamum? We have a mn geneticist), if he's been told it's unlikely to be passed on then it's not an issue, it's another obstacle and maybe you want them because of your ambivalence about this. I think it's fine to not have children btw, (ds was a happy accident, I thought I never wanted them until he happened, when I was 30) absolutely, so nothing I've said is meant to be critical.

Amanda3266 Wed 16-Feb-05 19:54:51

Hi AA,

I haven't read through all the replies you've had yet but I can tell you from my point of view that:

Motherhood feels the best joy in the world to me BUT if I'd not had my son I am sure I'd have achieved that joy with something else. It wouldn't be the same joy but just a different one. I don't hate every second of it but neither do I love every second of it. There are times when I just want five mins to myself but I can't always have them when I want them.

Mumsnet will give you some of the everyday facts about the reality of children.
They change your life completely - I can't remember when we last went to the cinema as a couple for example. However, these early years are not forever and we will do those things again.

I am not one of those people who think a woman strange for not wanting kids. We are in the most fortunate position of any period of time in that we can choose what we do - and whatever you do don't feel guilty and worry about it.

I have to confess to times of utter dispair when I thought I'd never have any "me time" again but the reality is that I do get plenty of "me time". My son is now 2 and sleeps 12-13 hours a night so I have every evening free.

Not alot of help really but if you do decide to become a Mum (it's Mom in USA isn't it?) you won't regret it - not all of it. Not saying that you won't have some regrets - that's normal - there's always times when a Mum thinks "if I didn't have kids I could ...."

What would I do in your shoes? I'd give myself a break and not worry about it. I know at 34 it must seem like you have to make a decision but there's plenty of us here who didn't have children until our late 30s for whatever reason.

It's a matter of looking at your life and thinking about what you want and what you'd like to do. If you have kids then life will change. Is there anything you'd like to do first? Travel the world for example. Most important thing is not to make any hasty decision.

Right - I'm rambling now so I'll go

Hope that helps a bit though

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 19:57:00

Twiglett.. not excuses

I used to think I could do everything myself and didn't want others to hold me back. Now I'm older and realize that other people are necessary to help me achieve what I want but I am still loathe to rely on unproven persons/companies out of fear they will bring me down or hinder my efforts or fail to live up to my expectations. It would certainly be much easier to just wipe out my emotional being and just get down to the business of 'doing' and risking failure thats for sure.

I've spoken with a neighbor whom I admire because she's invented a childs toy and just proceeded to have the various aspects outsourced (design, prototype, manufacturing) rather than get involved with the nitty gritty and a part of me thinks I should do the same & just get on with it.

Hubby wants me to take courses so that I have a better grasp on the technical aspects but I have not found classess available in things like using a 3d printer / working with a cnc machine / foundry mechanics. I will not pretend I am not interested in running my own in-house foundry for the prototype stage but it is indeed the basis for another 'excuse'.

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 20:01:39

Amanda3266, Thanks for your opinion.

Yup it is "mom" although I do get a kick out of saving the "MUM's day cards and sending them for Mother's day in May!)

I've had many people tell me that they waited until 36 to start having kids and that they either couldn't have kids (I would hate to have caused my own infertility- my husband would be crushed) or they could only have 1 and they all seemed distraught about having waited. I know I don't want kids and after having read some postings on this message board and some articles and having spoken with several people I told my hubbie I want to wait another 8 years but of course that is hardly realistic.

morningpaper Wed 16-Feb-05 20:03:53

I'm not sure what you want AA, and I don't think you do either. Will creating a 'product' make you feel 'self-actualized'? What kind of dream are you following?

morningpaper Wed 16-Feb-05 20:04:58

What would you achieve (in a dream situation) in 8 years? Have you tried putting it into a timeline and finding out what your 'dream milestones' are?

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 20:09:39

I've had many people tell me that they waited until 36 to start having kids and that they either couldn't have kids (I would hate to have caused my own infertility- my husband would be crushed)

Well unfortunately that's a fact you can't run away from .. it gets increasingly more difficult to conceive over 35 .. it just does

you keep going back to how much your husband wants children .. have you sat down and discussed this, thought about timescales?

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 20:10:09

Yes, creating a product (and I have a bookful of product ideas some better than others - I am a natural inventor) and successfully marketing it at trade fairs around the world would give me complete satisfaction. I would have contributed to the advancement of humanity, I would have traveled and even possibly brought home a decent amount of pounds.

I've had some time to think about it and most other (standard) career choices would not bring me the level of attention & money I desire and I see no point in getting a measly salary while making another co. money... I used to be in import/export and considered importing items into England most recently, but have decided that even if financially successful it would not allow me to self actualize... thus I've boiled it down to my above choice.

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 20:13:01

Twiglett.. yes we've discussed children many times. He is not gung-ho right now either and he'd be fine if we waited for another 2-4 years or so (pref 1-2 for him) because he isn't ready either.. even longer... BUT, he would be totally crushed if I could not have kids and while it is not a point of contention, he refuses to acknowledge that it might happen...

SoupDragon Wed 16-Feb-05 20:14:42

If you wait til you're ready, you'll probably never have them. I have 2 DSs (6 and 4) and I'm still not ready to be a parent...

morningpaper Wed 16-Feb-05 20:16:50

AA: I assume you have a bit of money behind you but I am a bit cynical and wonder why you have waited so long to start on your dream? There are very few products that will add to the advancement of humanity. You sound (to be honest) pretty unhappy with yourself and what you call 'self-actualization' really sounds like "I need to prove that I am not a failure." You AREN'T a failure for not having achieved these things.

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 20:20:28

hear hear morningpaper

you definitely are NOT a failure

FairyMum Wed 16-Feb-05 20:24:07

I think you worry too much about how you are going to live your life rather than living it. Not just when it comes to having children. You can't have a strategy for life to this extent, nor a strategy for how to bring children up or some kind of manual. I think the best thing about having kids weahther you work or not, is that it really is LIFE - chaotic, messy, exchausting, often out of control but fantastic!

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 20:24:15

No Morningpaper, I am not a failure. But in my book I am not successful either and people need to prove various things to themselves and achieve certain goals to feel fufilled. Sometimes these goals are not clear and it take a while (possibly a lifetime even) for a person to figure out what they want out of life and how to go about getting it. I see no point in just managing to exist.

Thus, it is only fairly recently (the past few months) that I figured out what would make me the happiest. Of course I have to now factor in the biological time restrictions & pros/cons of having kids (something I hadn't considered before).

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 20:28:22

Fairymum- um forgive me for asking but why can't I have a strategy for having kids? I rather liked my idea of creating a sort of HR manual with my hubbie becasuse then I'd parent consistently and desired behavior would be predetermined to an extent, thereby enabling a child to understand the consequences of their actions.

Maybe it is the folly of the childless but I don't understand the harm either and an HR parenting type manual could prove beneficial.

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 20:29:01

being a parent does open a whole new world though .. its something that you just aren't aware of before you join the rank and file

also being pregnant can just make your creative juices flow .. there are many stories of people starting new businesses whilst pregnant

really if you do want to be a 'mom' there is nothing to hold you back, being one doesn't have to derail your life, although it does sound like a jolt could help at the stage you're in

that said you really really have to decide whether you want to have children .. and no amount of debate can decide that for you .. at least not online

your DH will have to come to terms that you are beginning to push it in terms of natural fertility .. it will not necessarily happen .. although it can and does for many people.

wheresmyfroggy Wed 16-Feb-05 20:30:43

Is this for real?

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 20:32:19

"I rather liked my idea of creating a sort of HR manual " .. excuse me whilst I

write one by all means, but I will bet that your baby won't have read it and will throw you a complete loop

you cannot pre-plan parenting, you can set parameters, but rules and regs don't work when you have to deal with your own kids .. go with the flow and its far more enjoyable (I am an anti-routine kind of mum, but have very strict behavioural guidelines)

Caligula Wed 16-Feb-05 20:32:33

I don't think you'd be on a mother's website asking for advice if you didn't want children.

We live in a society which has made mothering and parenting so unattractive in terms of its status and financial rewards, that it's no wonder that non-parents are mentally so hesitant about taking the plunge.

But luckily for the human race, our biology overrides our rational deduction!

Otherwise no-one in the Western World would have children ever again.

Good luck with your decision AA.

snafu Wed 16-Feb-05 20:32:53

A manual for childrearing?


FineFigureFio Wed 16-Feb-05 20:32:55

I think you are very sensible AA
if you dont want kids dont have them
lifes too short for what if's and regrets, do what you want to do

Clayhead Wed 16-Feb-05 20:33:47

I have written many an HR manual in my time but after 2 kids I wouldn't even begin to start one for them. It's just not the same, you need so much flexibility! For a start, both of mine are completely different and have changed drastically at different stages in their lives.

However, I can see how a non-parent might not 'get' this as I too was like this once...

FWIW I think there is rarely a 'right' time.

Clayhead Wed 16-Feb-05 20:34:55

'I am an anti-routine kind of mum, but have very strict behavioural guidelines'

Twiglett, thank you, you have described me in a far better way than I ever could, I'll remember that one

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 20:39:34

Well obviously babies won't read nor 'get' an HR manual but I have to say that even adults want and need to know 'the rules' so they can go on without being chided every second possibly without understanding why.

Everything I've been reading on mumsnet and elsewhere indicates that parenting is largely mood based - that if you have a bad day you'll be harder on your kids and possibly impose too harsh of a punishment.. wouldn't an HR type manual help moderate poor parenting? Even if it is just used as a reference for the parent?

I know it sounds like a silly idea but 20 years ago starcharts would have been laughed at too.

Caligula Wed 16-Feb-05 20:39:37

Twiglett, we all know your child-rearing methods are Bohemian!

Clayhead Wed 16-Feb-05 20:40:36

Which rules! Someone tell me!

morningpaper Wed 16-Feb-05 20:41:01

"people need to prove various things to themselves and achieve certain goals to feel fufilled"

Not 'people' AA. I am massively confident in myself without 'proving' anything to anyone.

I have also had lots of psychotherapy which I think is a surer route to self-fulfillment than anything blue-sky dream I could wish to 'achieve'.

Caligula Wed 16-Feb-05 20:41:48

AA that's the point, there are no rules - it depends on your child, and what is right for one may be totally wrong for the other (my two are like chalk and cheese, and I'm sure I'll be accused of inconsistency when they're older - but they're different people, at different ages, and the best I can do for them is to treat them as individuals - no manual will do that).

wheresmyfroggy Wed 16-Feb-05 20:42:14

I think dw and I are fine without an hr manual , we are raising a family not running a workforce.

morningpaper Wed 16-Feb-05 20:42:25

AA: You want to write one about marriage too?

SenoraPostrophe Wed 16-Feb-05 20:44:00

I'm like morningpaper. Except I haven't had any psychotherapy.

Thinking about it, I always saw a research-based degree (which i don't have) as the thing that would prove myself. i may or may not do it now, but i don't need it. My "goal" now is to bring up the children and have a good time while i'm doing it.

Tinker Wed 16-Feb-05 20:44:10

Well AA, why don't you write the manual and get it published? Could that not be an "achievement" for you? Being a parent is not, I believe, a pre-requisite for writing a children's manual (GF?)

stupidgirl Wed 16-Feb-05 20:47:46

This is an interesting thread. Bear with me, my own post will probably be long and waffly...

I am 24, and throughout my childhood I never knew what I wanted to do with my life, the only thing that remained constant was my desire to be a Mum. I suffered from depression from the age of 11 upwards and as time went on my need to have children intensified. I went out at 17 with the intention of getting pregnant and by some miracle, fell pregnant at the first attempt. I had ds, and then 2 1/2 years later, dd. I've been on my own with them throughout.

I am happy with the choices I made and wouldn't change them. I am very depressed at the moment. I have opted to educate my children at home, I am with them nearly 24/7, ds has aspergers and it is tough. But I couldn't be without my kids. They are everything to me.

Having said all that, I can completely relate to your need to achieve something with your life and 'be remembered.' I feel that way too. I want to do something worthy with my life, although my approach to that is somewhat different to yours.

I had children very young, and didn't 'do' a huge amount with my life before having them - didn't have much of an education, never travelled, etc. But why does having children have to end my own life? I have plans to do a degree course, I want to travel with my kids when they are older, I want to do all kinds of things, and while my children are still young, and that puts certain restrictions on me, there's plenty of time when they are older.

It seems to me that confidence is a big issue for you (me too!). And I wonder whether you would be even considering having kids if your husband didn't want them, it doesn't seem to come high up on your agenda. That's fine, but I know people who have had kids just for their partners, and it rarely works out (ime). If you want to have kids great, if you don't great, but it needs to be your decision.

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 20:49:37

But .. the rules you need to know as adults are not written down as such (not talking legalities but just the social mores and morals by which we live our lives)

.. they are society's rules and humanist rules that we follow without a rule-book .. they are what we intrinsincly know as a product of our upbringing and society

as such .. you really don't need a rule-book, you just need to be you

.. children are very forgiving of their parents just as parents are of their children .. thankfully they come to us as babies and we learn by trial and error so by the time they are sentient enough it looks like we know everything

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 20:51:31

Corporations have written & unwritten rules. People are happier knowing the rules & consequences - take the Army for example - who would join if they weren't after black & white structure?

I figured that writing down certain basic rules/consequences (ie. no swearing) that could be tweaked now an then would help a person parent regardless of their mood swings.

No the Manual wouldn't work for marriage.. although I do admit that my hubbie & I 'write down' our agreements and post them to the refridgerator because over time we forget what we've agreed to and it stops fights. (That and buying a GPS for the car!).

Fennel Wed 16-Feb-05 20:52:42

I agree with some other posters if you're not sure don't have them, there are many other ways of living life.

but, I am not sure reading mumsnet gives a true impression. we often only post with our problems not the successes. For example 2 of my 3 children slept brilliantly from newborn, but you can't post saying "all my children sleep so well, I'm so lucky". Nor can you post saying "my children eat well and are doing well at school", etc. So maybe reading mumsnet might make you think it's all problems and worries cos that's what gives us something to talk about.

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 20:53:01

trust me AA .. any baby you have will not be able to swear before you've written your manual

snafu Wed 16-Feb-05 20:53:56

But a family is neither a corporation nor, god forbid, the Army, AA.

Caligula Wed 16-Feb-05 20:54:22

But children don't remember that rules exist when they WANT something. They just WANT it.

A tantrum, I have realised, is not a reflection on one's parenting, or on one's child's character, it is simply something children have to do when they're at a certain age, like masturbating or putting things in their mouths. No amount of rules will stop it.

lockets Wed 16-Feb-05 20:54:46

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marthamoo Wed 16-Feb-05 20:55:28

You can write a manual - but when it comes to one of those "bad days when you are harder on your kids" you are more likely to throw it at them than read and inwardly digest. I've read lots of parenting books - I still shout and lose my rag on a regular basis.

Twiglett Wed 16-Feb-05 20:56:07

'like masturbating and putting things in their mouths' .. oh I can hear every adolescent male cry if only <snurk>

AmericanAngle Wed 16-Feb-05 20:56:09

Twiglett- right on. But wouldn't it help to explore and thereby define ones humanist values in more depth rather than apply them situation by situation and thereby risk inconsistency? I really do believe (without having experimented) that maybe my life as a parent wouldn't be sooo difficult if I had happy children who understood our 'family values' and consequences/behavioral reinforcement for not abiding by them.

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