Is It Ever Okay To Say You Regret Your Kids?
9:45 am, April 9th | by Sarah Devlin
Sarah: Okay, let’s talk about the woman who told the Daily Mail she hates her children.
Colette: It must’ve been an interesting breakfast for those children…”Hey honey, pass me this morning’s Daily Mail”
“Darling, I…I don’t think you want to read it.”
Do you think the author told her children this article coming out? Complete with photographs?
Sarah: I find it impossible to believe that she wouldn’t, because they must have needed their permission for the photos of them, right?
Colette: I don’t think so — not if they were the author’s property…? I’m sure someone in the comments is going to inform me of how wrong I am. I really have no idea if what I just said is true.
On the one hand, I do appreciate the fact that this woman was bold enough to admit something that I’m sure more mothers think — namely, that her life would’ve been better if she didn’t have children. But the manner in which it was done…how she threw working mothers under the bus and directed a lot of resentment towards her children that I feel should’ve been directed towards her husband and the traditional gender roles that are enacted in parenting…
Sarah: I mean, that was weird. Why not just choose your own choices, lady?
Colette: Exactly! The author kept referring to the “responsibilities” of her “role” as if they were static and unyielding. Motherhood can look like whatever you want it to look like. If she wanted to have more freedom, why didn’t she discuss that with her husband?
Sarah: I mean, 2 B FAIR, she’s 57 — not having kids was not as much of an “Oh, that’s cool!” thing as it is now.
Colette: Oh absolutely, which is why I think she should be blaming “the system,” if you will, as opposed to her own children.
Sarah: Right. Also…finding out her daughter is bedridden and she’s her primary caregiver was a gut punch. Paging Nurse Ratched.
Colette: I understand that women are pressured to have children and made to feel like they haven’t led a full life unless they do, but the route this woman took is so unnecessary…And seriously. I got some MAJOR ‘Mommy Dearest’ vibes from this piece. I wonder if her children had wire hangers in their closets? I understand that this woman felt trapped but, seemingly unlike her, I don’t think of her as a martyr.
Sarah: I think that this is just an argument for ALL the birth control and ALL the not having kids if you don’t want kids, ever. She’s like Madame Bovary.
Colette: She’s like every tragic female character in literature who were unable to live their life on their own terms because of societal pressures. I get it, but then why rail against women who are trying to raise children and have a career?
Sarah: Well, right. I think she was getting preemptively defensive. Because she probably knows she’s going to get Piled. On.
Colette: Yeah, things definitely took a strange turn.
She’s already prepared for her detractors: “Sure, I didn’t want children, but I was THERE. If I’m not a mother, what does that make you?”
Sarah: Yeah, I guess it was her way of being like “So I didn’t want kids, but I didn’t f*ck them up! I COMMITTED.”
Colette: It’s a strange, proud fatalism. She went down with the ship while you, a working mother, were off leaving “the vital job of caring for [your children] to strangers.”
Sarah: I mean, just bananas. I think we should allow for the possibility that she was edited to seem WAY more horrible. Because otherwise, this is basically like tarring and feathering herself.
Colette: If it was editing, wouldn’t she have seen the final product before it was published?
Sarah: Not necessarily!
Colette: In my opinion, she is far too indignant for this to have been anything but her own doing. Or anything but her own words, I suppose. And believe me, I’m not judging her for admitting that she didn’t want her children; more than anything, I just want to reach through the computer screen and grab her, yelling, “it didn’t have to be this way!”
Colette: For a woman who seems to have wanted more out of life, she has a really rigid and traditional sense of gender roles and what motherhood should look like…but maybe she’s only reflecting the culture she was born into?
Sarah: I feel like being childless (or “childfree,” rather) recently became MUCH more acceptable. Like, “in the 2000s” recently.
Colette: I still don’t think it’s acceptable. I think childless women get plenty of side-eye and pity. People assume you are childless out of some fault or flaw, not out of choice.
Sarah: Well right, we’re not there, but I think great big leaps of acceptability have been made only in the past decade or so.
Colette: I mean, I know I don’t want children and it enrages me when people try to undermine my decision, telling me how young I am, how it will change. Uh, thanks dudes, but I know myself and what I want and a crying, pooping thing is not it.
Sarah: I feel like when that woman was getting married – young, too – it was way different. It was the 70s. I’m being an apologist for her and I can’t tell it’s annoying!
Sarah: I mean, I DO want kids and I totally get why people don’t. And I think that her argument goes further than I would like, but there definitely are other women who have kids and then regret it. Maybe it brought somebody else some measure of comfort.
Colette: Exactly! I don’t mean to be attacking her, if that’s even what I am doing — I actually have tremendous respect for her because I’m sure she is going to get attacked for this piece, especially because we love in a time and culture that completely romanticizes motherhood and likes to believe that all mothers are capable of tremendous SACRIFICE and STRENGTH and SELF-ERASURE and want nothing more than their child and are completely satisfied with being a mother, that’s it, end of story, R.I.P. woman.
Sarah: Right, exactly.
Colette: Once a woman becomes a mother, we’re so unwilling to see her as anything more. God, I really don’t get it. Do people even realize that childhood as we know it is such a new thing? Adolescence didn’t even exist until the 20th century! Kids used to stick their hands between the gears of massive industrial machines! Mothers used to give birth in fields!
Sarah: Wellllllll we don’t exactly want to go back to THAT.
Colette: Not that I want to go back to the days of child labor.
Colette: JINX! I just mean to say that “love” hasn’t always been the foundations of giving birth. It used to be a pragmatic decision — someone needed to work the fields.
I think we need to re-contextualize motherhood in a meaningful way, one that would put a stop to all these arguments that pit working mothers against stay-at-home mothers. “Being there” can’t be all that being a mother means. And “being there sometimes/when it’s convenient” can’t be what being a father means.
Sarah: Right. I think this lady is an obvious example of how bad that binary is for everyone. And if she had more self awareness about it, it would have been a different piece.
Colette: If she had more self awareness and knew that her audience wasn’t going to immediately attack her, it would definitely have been a different piece.
Sarah: Haha, true. The biggest mistake — letting this run in the Daily Mail.
Colette: Yeah, what? The Daily Mail isn’t what I would call…understanding. Or women’s greatest ally.
Sarah: Haha. Yeah, that was a biiiiig old mistake.
Just like her kids!
What did you think of the piece? Tell us in the comments.
[Photo via Shutterstock]