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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!


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

Message withdrawn

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

Message withdrawn

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)

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