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friend just told me she has no mothering instinct- she has 2 ds

(41 Posts)
cheekymonk Mon 24-Sep-12 13:03:40

I live away from my bf and she has 2 ds, one is 3 and other is 6. She planned to have them and got pregnant quickly with both. I noticed from the few times we have spent together post children she does not enjoy them and any plans she wants to make with me are always without kids. She has cancelled plans when we have agreed to all meet up literally on the day. Me, dh and 2 kids went abroad to be with her on her wedding day and i noticed then how unhappy she seemed. She had planned for kids to be with her on wedding day for years but she was miserable most of the holiday, her youngest needed walking to sleep every night and I could see it was tough. She is self emplyoyed and makes cakes and from what i can tell, the youngest amuses himself whilst she makes them. he has had hearing probs and despite having grommets and the fact he can now hear, he is still naughty.
Anyway she told me that her dh has just had a vasectomy and she has no plans for a 3rd as she has never had any mothering instinct!!! thats quite an admission and I feel she could do with some counselling or CBt to just talk through how she feels. i have known she has been unhappy for some time and lets face it, motherhood is hard. i just feel really sad for her and can't stop thinking about it. WWYD if it was your friend?

TheArmadillo Mon 24-Sep-12 13:33:48

I find it incredibly sad when people get no enjoyment out of life, especially when they have got everything they thought they wanted and when they feel they should just accept this.

I would encourage her to think that it doesn't need to be this way - maybe counselling/cbt is the way to go. Maybe parenting classes or similar to help her feel more in control.

What are her husband/family like? When I felt like this it was as a result of constantly being put down by my family, when I cut contact then my self esteem and belief in myself suddenly got up off the floor and I could enjoy stuff. This might not necessarily be the case, but its an idea.

But most importantly I would encourage her to talk about it - and that 'mothering instinct' for some is not something they experience. Instinctiveness is more a case of confidence rather than a natural instinct. There are fantastic mothers who never feel like they have it - she's not unusual not to have it.

littlebluechair Mon 24-Sep-12 14:36:56

Hi, I think the whole concept of 'mothering instinct' is an issue, so many people find it takes time to bond or find aspects of parenting/mothering hard, but we are told that 'instinctively' we should find it all doable.

If it were my friend, I would try to have compassion for her and her children. I would encourage her to seek counselling to understand what is going on for her.

I would also tell her you are happy to talk about it whenever.

Do you think her kids are struggling as a result of how she feels? What is her husband like?

cheekymonk Mon 24-Sep-12 14:40:32

Thanks for your replies. I don't know her husband that well. he is pretty hands on from what I can tell and I know her Mum helps her out from time to time. We had a long talk a while back and I sensed that she would go back to being 18 in an instant. she misses her freedom and talks about opening a club with her husband once kids have grown up- its a s though she is counting down the days!!! Its such a huge part of your life to wish away.
I think she may feel isolated and ashamed of her feelings so yes, i will encourage her to talk.

madwomanintheattic Mon 24-Sep-12 14:51:25

Well, tbh I'm not surprised that she feels ashamed - the fact that everyone's first instinct is 'take her to therapy' is probably underlining society's view that there is something woman that doesn't immerse herself completely in her offspring.

Having kids, especially ones with additional needs, is bloody hard work. There is no law to say you have to have a perma-smile attached and find it fulfilling.

Yes, being miserable is awful. Yes, she needs to find something that fulfills her and try to make some changes that will ignite her spark and give her some enjoyment.

But you can't make her into super mum, and nor should anyone try.

Presumably the youngest will be going to school soon, which will give her a chance to rediscover herself for a few hours a day, instead of being x's mum.

24/7 with kids is life-sapping if you aren't particularly that sort of person. It's why many people get back to work and use childcare.

She sounds perfectly normal to me - she's just chosen to work from home with her children, instead of outside the home and using childcare.

Be worried about her happiness, not the state or otherwise of her mothering desire.

ReallyTired Mon 24-Sep-12 14:58:42

I think that "mothering instinct" is a bit of a myth. It is possible to love your own children, but not enjoy motherhood. Lets face it being with babies and small children is boring. Its Ok to miss your freedom and pre children days. Its OK to not want more children.

I agree with madwomanintheattic to be worried about her happiness rather than her mothering instinct. It may well be that she is depressed and feels like a bad mother, when actually she is an excellent parent.

BettyandDon Mon 24-Sep-12 15:03:33

Mums come in all shapes and sizes the same way all people do. If she's unhappy then she needs to make changes. Nothing wrong with using more traditional childcare plenty do.

littlebluechair Mon 24-Sep-12 16:40:43

Being with babies and small children is not de facto boring - some people find it boring.

madwomanintheattic Mon 24-Sep-12 16:51:00

Sure. But there's nothing wrong with finding it boring.

I find golf boring.

But no one insists I play it 24/7.

littlebluechair Mon 24-Sep-12 17:17:01

No, there is nothing wrong with finding it boring, but there is something wrong with your children becoming aware that you find them boring.

Golf clubs are conveniently less bothered about how you feel about them.

madwomanintheattic Mon 24-Sep-12 17:28:03

I don't imagine her kids are aware, tbh. Mothers are generally frazzled and time poor if they are working at the same time as raising toddlers, with no childcare. There is no indication of any lack of care or detriment to the children, just comment on how the mother feels about her role.

If the op had posted about a thin, pale waif of a child with social communication issues, and her concerns about his welfare given his mother's confession - different discussion.

madwomanintheattic Mon 24-Sep-12 17:29:18

I find my job boring. My employer thinks I love it.
I still moan and gripe <and occasionally weep> about it in private.

<disclaimer. I left it two weeks ago. grin>

scentednappyhag Mon 24-Sep-12 17:36:18

I quite often arrange visits with friends around when I can go on my own. Sometimes it's nice to have a proper catch up and coffee as myself, not just as DD's mum. I still love her to absolute pieces and wouldn't change her for the world, but I still value my time alone. I also agree that 'mothering instinct' is a myth, and makes it harder to admit that sometimes you miss being free of responsibilties.
If she's had a hard time with her DCs, then to be honest I think her attitude seems fairly normal. Lots of people plan for what they'll do when the children grow up and go off to uni/get married/whatever.

littlebluechair Mon 24-Sep-12 17:38:27

I am clearly interpreting this so differently to you all, I don't know why!

Surely OP wouldn't post if her friend was just generally frazzled? I thought the OP was talking about her friend being very unhappy.

madwomanintheattic Mon 24-Sep-12 17:44:43

Sure. Very unhappy needs some work. And they would all <possibly> be happier if she had more child free time and rediscovered her self instead of being subsumed into the role of mother (where not only is she trapped, but she is expected to damned well enjoy it).

But that doesn't mean the children are affected.

littlebluechair Mon 24-Sep-12 17:55:33

I don't really get how you know all this stems from being 'subsumed into the role of mother'?

IWillOnlyEatBeans Mon 24-Sep-12 18:19:00

I freely admit I don't have any maternal instincts! I have one much loved DS and another on the way. I have not found any of it 'instinctive' though - it's been hard work!

I have no plans for a third DC.

I am a SAHM, so whenever I get the chance (rarely!) I'd prefer to arrange to see friends without my/their DC in tow.

Some days I love my life and my role. Others I find it frustrating, depressing and boring.

I would consider myself totally normal and not at all a cause for concern or a candidate for therapy. If your friend was my friend, we'd probably get on quite well! I'd offer a listening ear when she needs one and arrange some nights/days (whichever are easier for you both) out for some child-free time.

madwomanintheattic Mon 24-Sep-12 18:31:46

Um, because the woman in question has said so, and she doesn't enjoy it?

I dunno, it would give me a clue when my friend told me she had no mothering instinct, had taken action to ensure she wouldn't have any more children, and was making plans as to what she would do when the kids were self sufficient. And was apparently desperately unhappy.

Admittedly, the other clue was that the initial response was to get her into therapy because she had no mothering instinct.

Given that 'friend just told me she has no mothering instinct' was the thread title, and all.

Why should she have?

What's all the 'instinct' bollocks about anyway?

Do men confess to having no 'fathering instinct' and have all their friends suggesting therapy?

littlebluechair Mon 24-Sep-12 19:18:17

Iwillonlyeatbeans the situation you describe - surely no one would be posting about you in a worried way - so I imagined the subject of this post must be much more unhappy than you describe!

I wish the OP would come back and explain a bit more because I don't see why OP would be posting if it was just run of the mill 'I would prefer to be working to being with small children'.

cheekymonk Mon 24-Sep-12 21:07:45

Sorry. have been busy with kids... Interesting how this has developed... so will try to go into more detail. i had my ds about a year before she had her first ds. i remember her coming to meet my ds and she described me as a 'natural' which i didn't feel at all at the time!! i remember going to see her with her 2nd ds more than 1st for some reason. She had had a tough pregnancy (thyroid trouble) and a fall in the bathroom towards of pregnancy but all was ok. She seemed a bit distant and told me she felt nothing when her ds was born at first but feelings came after a few days. its so hard because i see her so little and some of the feelings she has i totally agree are normal but my own instinct tells me she is not ok). all the times i have seen her however i have noticed that her kids don't thrill either her or her husband in any way shape or form. We all get pissed off, fed up and exasperated. we all sometimes wonder why we did this but the general demeanour of both her and her dh is just worn down, a bit disengaged and depressed really all the time.her 1st ds is an angel and i remember she was shocked that her 2nd ds was such a little shit as she phrased it.
They went on holiday recently and she mentioned on facebook 'thank god for kids clubs'and the kids had gone there every day!!! There are pictures too of youngest asleep face in washing basket, legs dangling out as tho the poor kid has crashed out wherever he can.
On her wedding , in the day she would order everyone about to deal with kids. The wedding reception was memorable as there weren't enough spaces for everyone and the kids (our 3) wanted to sit near each other but they seemed so annoyed with this. i asked them to give the kids a chance but was told that my ds was playing up and as i wasn't sat next to him could i sort something out. i sorted for all kids to be on a djacent table near me withme supervising but again, they seemed to be in the way!!! Another friend rolled her eyes at me and seemed in disbelief at how the children weren't really included in things.

So, what do you think?

madwomanintheattic Mon 24-Sep-12 21:14:27

I think she sounds exactly like loads of women I know who don't really find children the be all and end all. My sister has never taken her son on holiday - he gets left with either set of grandparents and she and her dh go and do adult things for a week.

I have loads of pictures of my kids in odd places. That's why we take them - because it's out of the ordinary. I'm pretty sure that if mine had crashed half in a laundry basket it would have been worthy of recording it for posterity.

The fact that she is taking these pictures is a great sign that she is a pretty ordinary parent. If there were no pictures, and utter disinterest, I'd be more worried, tbh.

I'm also not sure that I'd be wanting to herd kids and organize them on my wedding day, tbh.

Worn down, disengaged and depressed is bad. And you are right to want to cheer her up and make her life a bit easier.

You are not right if this involves criticizing her for an apparent lack of mothering instinct. Whatever your basis for doing so. Concentrate on her feelings, not her perceived lack of some crappy stereotype.

cheekymonk Mon 24-Sep-12 21:15:29

I also agree that i am not sure about mothering instinct either. There is a problem with mothers expected to love every minute but I am still worried. here is direct quote,
just had a vasectomy, so that rules out anymore children.. I never had the mothering instinct and after having two boys, I don't think that will ever change!

madwomanintheattic Mon 24-Sep-12 21:16:20

I thank god for kid's clubs, btw. It's a fairly common comment. grin

And really not one you should be fretting over.

cheekymonk Mon 24-Sep-12 21:17:06

I haven't said a word to her about her parenting. all i have said in the past is that she doesn't seem very happy...

madwomanintheattic Mon 24-Sep-12 21:29:14

I think that's fine, and it gives her an opening for her to talk.

I'd be asking her if she would be happier getting a job and some decent childcare, tbh. Kids are much easier to appreciate if it isn't 24/7. In the meantime, probably just wry sympathy and letting her know that it's perfectly normal to feel the way she does is probably validation enough.

She sounds as though she thinks she is a failure, and thinks everyone else feels the same way. She needs to get on here.

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