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"I would rather have spent my life with your father than had you"

(63 Posts)
newrhythmics Fri 16-Nov-12 14:18:24

I'm not really sure why I'm starting this thread. I suppose I'd like to hear people's reactions to this comment, which was made by my mother to me a couple of years ago. At the time, I had no DC of my own- but I still found it puzzling. Then I had DD, and I found it harder to understand. And now I'm about to give birth to DC2 and it's haunting me again.

There's no real context, except to say I was having dinner with my parents (happily married for 40 years) and we were discussing a friend of mine whose long-term relationship had collapsed when (both in their mid to late 30s) her DP had confirmed that he most definitely did not want to have children- and nothing would change his mind. As my friend most definitely did want children, she felt she had no choice but to move on. My mother said she couldn't understand this at all, and "would much rather have spent her life with my father than had me and my sister".

I think it is quite a strange thing to say to your child. I wouldn't say it has hugely upset me (or even surprised me- I guess I grew up with a sense of this). But I can't imagine saying such a thing to DD.

Or am I being too sensitive about it?

suzyrut Fri 16-Nov-12 15:12:47

Hi OP, I can sympathise mothers can say some of the most hurtful things without even realising they've done it purely because they have so much influence on how we feel about ourselves.

My mum once told me that if she'd had her time again she wouldn't have had children! It took a while for me to rationalise this as her only reflecting on a hypothetical situation and not on whether she loved my sister or I now we were in existence. I think as others have pointed out yours sounds like a similar situation. What she's rationalising is a situation where you weren't around, not wishing you out of existence.

Maybe you can speak to her about it if this kind of thing is out of character, I'm sure she'd be upset to have said something that would cause you to feel bad.

Take care.

HullyEastergully Fri 16-Nov-12 15:19:39

I have actually advised my own dc not to have dc on occasion...


Mayisout Fri 16-Nov-12 15:54:09

Trills, you have a point. Didn't really mean that.

I am childless at the mo as all left home and revel in that now. But am also SAH trailing spouse, here because of my DH's job, and being a doting wife, waiting for DH's return each day, isn't my ideal choice. So if the DM was hankering for many years of that she was seeing it through rose tinted specs imo.

izzyizin Fri 16-Nov-12 16:05:23

I believe it's a measure of maturity when we are able to engage in conversations with our dps without reacting or responding as if we are children and, more particularly, when discussing subjects which we have no compunction about talking about with our peers.

newrhythmics Fri 16-Nov-12 16:14:44

Thanks everyone- I really appreciate the different viewpoints. I don't want to make a big deal of it in my own head. And I think Dave is right in that there is very little to be gained in trying to have it out.

The thing is, she's a really great mother in a very great number of ways. Yes, she has blind spots (and I do accept these now, as being just part of her, through the humility motherhood has brought me and through my own "growing up" processes). Of course I know I have blind spots, too. Hers are being fairly unsensitive at times and also being essentially not "built" for any kind of self-reflection. The tension for us is that my blind spots are in the opposite direction- I know I can over-think things at times, whereas she is very blithe. She shoots and moves on.

If I was to bring this up, she would almost certainly deny having said it and, if that was no longer feasible, would either turn it around into an attack or would be dismissive of it (i.e. it would be my issue for being far too sensitive).

newrhythmics Fri 16-Nov-12 16:18:27

I also agree with all the posters who have said it's great that my parents have had such a strong and happy marriage, and not one lived through DC. that's absolutely right.

I guess I just wish she hadn't said it. Or had qualified it as hully says.

Suzy hits the nail on the head in terms of how what mothers say can have such an impact because of their influence on how we feel about ourselves. And I'm sorry that some posters' mothers have said some really quite crappy things.

Lottapianos Fri 16-Nov-12 16:20:58

'Mayisout you seem to have a pretty poor view of life without children.

Maybe it wouldn't be for you. But not everyone likes the same things'

Thanks Trills smile

OP, you have every right to feel upset. My mum has told me that if she had her time again, she wouldn't marry or have children and it really does hurt and 'haunts' me as you say. There was definitely no point challenging my mother (long history of emotional abuse and NPD) and it sounds like that might be the same in your case. You have had loads of support on here and lots of us feel the same way so I hope that helps. sad for you.

squeakytoy Fri 16-Nov-12 16:23:07

I think she meant it differently to how you have taken it.

It looks to me as if she was saying that if he only choice between having children meant not being with your Dad, then she would have stayed with your Dad. It doesnt mean that she doesnt love you or didnt want you.

My mum said a similar thing. (I am adopted). My dad was unable to have children, and my mum could have had them, after they both had tests to see why she couldnt get pregnant. My mum said that she loved my dad so much that she could not possibly have left him, even if it meant she could not have a baby.

izzyizin Fri 16-Nov-12 16:27:16

Ah well, the line between 'sensitive' and 'insensitive' is finely drawn and we're not always best placed to judge our own footwork, or that of those who may be prone to putting their foot in it.

Maybe we'd be happier if we were fitted with rear view mirrors that eliminate all blind spots, but that would mean less room for disagreement lively debate and I do so enjoy a verbal wrangle workout.

B1ueberryMuff1n Fri 16-Nov-12 16:34:59

That's very hurtful..... i know i could have been happy without children and i may say that one day but that doesn't mean that i wish i hadn't had them! your mother hasn't experienced life NOT being a mother. for all she knows not having children might have spoiled her marriage. her husband your father may not have been so content.

HissyByName Fri 16-Nov-12 16:43:09

If I could go back and slam the door on my DS dad's Dick face, I would.

But I'd have my son every day of the week. I may regret the relationship, and wish he had a dad that was a decent human being, but I'll always be happy to have my son.

You mother should have kept her bile to herself. I'd have wished her luck in the future and left her to it tbh.

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Fri 16-Nov-12 16:49:19

I can't imagine being that bothered about a couple-relationship myself. Though I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn't had DS, the focus of the imaginary/alternate life is never couplehood.

But I can't imagine ever saying anything to DS that implies I'd rather not have him. Even when he's being maddening.

CailinDana Fri 16-Nov-12 16:51:09

IMO there are certain things you should NEVER say to your children, no matter how old they are. Things like "I wish I'd never had children," or what your mother said OP are never acceptable. They are fundamentally hurtful and inappropriate and expecting someone to take it on the chin just because they're grown up is too much. My mother told me when I was about 12 that I was a "mistake." What she meant was she fell pregnant accidentally but hearing yourself described as a "mistake" from the mouth of the person who should love you most in the world is just awful and I have never forgiven her for it. Fine, say such things to your friends or your husband but NOT YOUR CHILDREN.

Parents retain an influence over how their children feel for practically their entire lives, and they need to be aware of that. You can't just shoot your mouth off as a parent and then claim your child is "too sensitive" if they're upset, it's just nasty.

rubyrubyruby Fri 16-Nov-12 16:56:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

amothersplaceisinthewrong Fri 16-Nov-12 17:00:46

If we had our time again and knew what we know now having raised two kids to adulthood I am not sure if DH and I would have children.

CailinDana Fri 16-Nov-12 17:01:36

That's fair enough amothers but I think it would be wrong of you to actually say that to your children because it would inevitably make them feel unwanted.

Out of interest why do you feel that way?

Karoleann Fri 16-Nov-12 17:03:02

Oooh that's a difficult one, I love having my children and I can't imagine my life without any of them. I'm far more fufilled as a mother and wife than I was working.....but I'm not sure I would be without a husband.
You only borrow your children for 18-20 years, then they go off and do their own things. Your husband is hopefully for life.
I'm fairly sure I would never say that to my children though, maybe she'd had a lot to drink?
My father died a couple of years ago (he was 61) and my mother misses him terribly, they had been together alomst 40 years. I'm not sure she would answer a similar question truthfully.

OwlLady Fri 16-Nov-12 17:03:38

I agree with what others have said, that she meant pre having you and your sister she would have chosen your father. can you not talk to her about it?

If you want to know what truly abusive people say to their children you could listen to this one from my dad who said, upon my sisters death, he wished I had died instead

zzzzz Fri 16-Nov-12 17:06:20

When Dh and I got married it was very unlikely I would ever have children. He chose to be with me regardless. Isn't this the same thing.

I would be childless with my Dh rather than have children with someone else. That does not take away from the fact that I love my children, they are my happiness.

MardyArsedMidlander Fri 16-Nov-12 17:11:19

My aunt once said the same thing- that she had children because my uncle really wanted them, but if he hadn't she would have been quite happy to stay married to him. Frankly, I think it's an honest and healthy attitude- surely you want to know you are not the centre of your parents' life?

izzyizin Fri 16-Nov-12 17:14:19

And those who haven't had dc may speculate as to how their lives may have been different if they had.

Once we reach the age of, say, 25 surely we can converse with our dps in an adult manner and are able to posit and debate various scenarios without assuming the stance or posture of 'rejects' if our dps happen to hold or evince views that may not be immediately pleasing to us?

I relish the individuality of my dps as distinct from them being solely 'my parents'. I enjoy learning what made them, shaped them, moved them, as it enables me to learn more about myself.

PanickingIdiot Fri 16-Nov-12 17:15:06

It's a bit ironic, isn't it, to criticise our parents for the finer points of their decisions to have children.

CailinDana Fri 16-Nov-12 17:16:24

I wouldn't criticise any parent for their feelings on having children - they can't help the way they feel. But telling their children those feelings is really insensitive IMO.

rubyrubyruby Fri 16-Nov-12 17:16:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mayisout Fri 16-Nov-12 17:16:56

My mother said she couldn't understand this at all, and would much rather have spent her life with my father than had me and my sister

Well, it's the 'much rather' which is hurtful. If she had said she could have been as happy with just the father then that might be acceptable to the OP.

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