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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!


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

Message withdrawn

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

Message withdrawn

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.

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