I'm finally starting this series that I talked about in a previous IceBlock post. I'm not sure how 'long' these posts will necessarily be, but the topic matter will be indicated by the title. As such today's topic is motherhood. And I apologize in advance because I'm sure this post will be controversial, but it's my own personal thoughts and therefore inevitably bound to be disagreeable to plenty.
What triggered me to want to write this post immediately was an article that I received an email about today. It was from Yahoo, and the title of the email caught my attention: "Mom calls kids 'biggest regret' of her life..." The following link is a link to the actual (original) article written by the mother herself, not the article Yahoo was referring to which solely comments on the original article. The article is on a site called Mail Online and is titled "The mother who says having these two children is the biggest regret of her life" - the author being that mother, Isabella Dutton.
Reading Dutton's honest thoughts on her kids - that they were a big mistake in her life - wasn't the bit that made me feel compelled to write my own thoughts on motherhood. It was the few comments I read in response to it (comments were ultimately disabled for the article): there was an overwhelming consensus that Dutton is an awful woman who should be ashamed for regretting her children. But I think there is an aspect to the whole article that is being misunderstood and consequently overlooked by the readers disgusted by Dutton's confession - and that brings to mind my own mixed feelings on motherhood.
I'm going to put this out there now. For a good portion of my life (and perhaps even now), I never thought anything of children. In fact, I found them irritating as opposed to sweet, gross as opposed to adorable - the list goes on. Another important fact about me is that, for the same portion of my life, I always looked forward to the day that I would meet the man that would love me and eventually become my husband. It was my top goal in life: to find someone I could make memories with for the rest of my life. I was the type of person that, as a result, had no interest in fleeting relationships - even when I was 14. It sucked back then but it works out better now.
Kids, marriage - family. They're all interconnected, for better or worse.
There was a point in my life that I absolutely abhorred the idea of having children. I was like Dutton in the sense that I had no desire at all to throw kids into my life. I didn't see any good from it. I didn't want to have to share my love and attention between my potential husband and my eventual kids, and on top of that I didn't want my body to go through the stress (and physical alteration) of childbirth. The thought of breastfeeding disgusted me because it would mean the sooner arrival of older, worn-out breasts, the thought of my torso being stretched out to accommodate for a child for nine plus months meant a ton of time and effort to try and get back the youthful, firm body prior to pregnancy. I just hated every aspect to it. In fact, back when Xanga was the shit, I had two separate posts that expressed my strong disinterest in motherhood, which I will quote from now. As you will see, I mention being 18 in one of the posts, and I am now about to turn 22, so these opinions were actually present not so long ago. **WARNING: Obscene language.** Take a look at my first post:
"So many people, especially girls, see little kids or babies and any movement from the kid/baby somehow extracts a fuss among the people that witness it....things as simple as a smile or a kick...like, holy shit, THE BABY YAWNED OMG HOW CUTEEEEE...nooo not really -_-
"What the fuck?
"If you could guess already, I don't want kids. I just don't like them. They irritate me. Never did I see a kid and think, without the pressure of those around me, that any of their stupid, meaningless, and common actions were atrociously adorable. Why do I bother to force my awe when people are around me? 'Cause I'm a girl, and I'm supposed to love kids and want to have my very own someday. But I don't. I really, really don't.
"Who knows, I'm only 18 right now. Maybe my thoughts will change when I actually meet someone and reach the decision to have a kid for their sake ('cause that's the only thing, at this moment, that would budge me towards trashing my body for the production of another). Maybe the actual birth of the thing will make me go straight into mother mode and find every stupid, meaningless, and common action to be the definition of life's beauty. Anything is possible, but for now I can't stand kids." - Taken from my Xanga, Dreaming Like No Other (rather not link it here as it was more of a personal blog)
And now for my second post, which reveals more of my frustration with the subject:
"What if I am happy with kids after I have them. What if I begin to only care about my kids 24/7, to such an extent that I could give a rat's ass about my husband (which, if you couldn't tell already, is the one most significant goal in my life at the moment - to meet someone that I can love and marry). I think about that dramatic transformation and it literally haunts me. But what if it happened? What if giving birth meant a sudden change in the chemistry of my body, since it now has to provide for kids?
"You know...that's one thing that really scares me. That idea of a soul, of the only indescribable and beautiful features of the human race being the many emotions we encounter throughout our lives - those surreal, unexplainable things can actually be defined. ... when it comes down to it, chemicals can piece together everything. Just that chemical alteration in my body upon having kids can change me as I know myself right this moment. I don't have control over that either, now..." - Also taken from my Xanga, Dreaming Like No Other
Some people may find my words as appalling as Dutton's, or maybe not since I don't actually have kids and have therefore not subjected them to my disgust in having them to begin with. But that is how I felt at the time, and while I can say that my feelings have changed since then, I can also admit that I am still reluctant to have kids.
Why have they changed and how? Well, there are two big incidents that I need to talk about to sufficiently answer those questions.
The first was a dream. I dreamt that I had a boyfriend (a made-up person in the dream) and that I unintentionally became pregnant. In the dream the child was born, and I was overwhelmed by feelings of boundless love. I remember my mom being there, supporting me regardless of the 'accident,' and how I couldn't even part with the baby to let her hold it, because I was so happy and loved it so much. My 'boyfriend' leaving me didn't matter; I was just happy to have this small life that was part of my own, to love and care for.
Strange dream for someone who wrote those words up there, isn't it? But it opened my eyes to how those feelings could be, and in turn opened my mind to the idea that maybe my own child wouldn't be as irritating or gross as the others I see. Lets face it: those of us who lack babies in the family end up encountering more spoiled brats born of strangers than well-behaved, 'cute' kids. At least that's how it's always been for me, since I have zero first cousins and was the youngest in my family (I have one brother and he's older than me).
Now for the second incident. I was in a serious relationship at 19 and made the decision to bring it up to a sexual level. I was on the pill for my hormonal problems, but we used protection anyway because I was not ready to have a child (and still not interested in having one period). My normally religious period did not show up, and I remember being alone in my room thinking: am I really alone? I told my boyfriend that my period was days late, and then my mom, and eventually I took a pregnancy test and found out it was a false alarm. I had taken one of my pills 24 hours later, and since I was new to birth control my body reacted by completely skipping my period (a common occurrence for girls on the pill). But just the thought that I might be pregnant changed me. I immediately (before the tests confirmed differently) became attached to that something that might be in me, and I knew that I would never, EVER get an abortion. I would find a way to make it work financially, and if my boyfriend didn't want to help I wouldn't care. I would have that child and love it and raise it and never associate it with 'that mistake in my life with an idiot.' It would be my child; mine.
I am with a different guy now, and I made clear (and will for every guy afterwards) that if we ever decide to do anything and I somehow became pregnant, the child will be born regardless of whether he wants it to or not.
Clearly I have changed a lot - from hating kids and the idea of having kids to wanting just one someday and, even if that someday is way sooner than expected, sticking it out and doing my best to give my child a great life. But part of me is still torn on the idea of being a mother, and that (in combination with my initial feelings towards motherhood) is why I was not judgmental of Dutton based on what she wrote.
I think about my strong feelings against giving in to peer pressure: having sex too young, trying drugs, drinking, having to please the people around you at the sacrifice of yourself and your comfort. I've made mistakes in my life, but I never gave in to peer pressure. Yes, I was still young at 19 when I first had sex, but I wasn't 13. The last time I tasted alcohol was during a New Year's eve years ago, when I still followed the family tradition of having a small sip of wine at midnight. I never tried drugs, and I remember always being happy as myself. In fact, I liked standing apart from the crowd. Peer pressure was never an issue for my antisocial self.
But what if my kid is the opposite? What if she (I'm saying she for the sake of simplicity and because my ideal child would be a girl) is one of those kids that needs to give in to peer pressure to the point that she does stuff behind my back? What if she decides to have sex super early regardless of what I say and loses the chance to really understand it and appreciate it for what it is? Speaking of sex, I don't know how I would handle being the parent of a girl specifically considering that bullshit court decision that I saw on a newspaper recently: that 13 year old girls should be allowed to take the morning after pill without their parents' or doctor's consent.
How could I deal with that? I feel like I would inevitably love my child less because I always hated people that gave in to peer pressure, or girls that were sexually active to fit in without understanding what it meant, or thought it was some fun game or joke - who got abortions because they were too stupid and young to realize what they were doing. How could I ever deal with that if it's my own child, and I have to face it?
I know that the fact that I ask myself that question is sign enough that I'm not ready to be a mother. But sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get past it. Even my current boyfriend doesn't know if he could handle a kid considering the social atmosphere they're surrounded in today, and he really wanted a family in his future back when we first dated (which was actually when I wrote those Xanga posts - you can imagine how many disagreements that led to between us). It's...awful, and confusing.
Getting back to the article, though - I know my change in opinion for motherhood over the years may not coincide clearly with Dutton's words, but I think it shows that I understand both sides of the spectrum. I've been on both sides, and I'm torn between them now (albeit for different reasons now). What I can say, though, having felt both extremes, is that Dutton is not a sad excuse for a woman. I understand why she regrets her kids, and I also understand why there is no harm in her saying that. That is the point where I think a lot of readers are confused. They take it the wrong way, I think. They read it as Dutton wishes that her two kids - these beings in her life, Stuart and Jo - never existed. But I believe that her statement is one she makes apart from them, if that makes sense. That having no kids ('kids' being the general category and not 'Stuart and Jo') would have made her life better. She clearly states that she loves her kids, but she can't help but admit that her life would have been more fulfilling to her personally had she not needed to emotionally and financially commit to children.
Blah...I'm sure most of this has no connection to some of you, as it was so long and winded that you're probably lost and confused. But that's why I warned you! "TL;DR"! Anyway, I'll call this a wrap. Here's to a future, empty or filled with kids. 'Til next time. ('<>')>
Please feel free to share your own thoughts on this article, or the topic of motherhood (or fatherhood), below.