I was talking to my mom about marriage and children the other day, because I saw some of my peers, usually old high-school pals, getting married or expecting a baby.
My mom, a mother of three, had her first child, (me) when she was 29 years old. I wanted to know her opinion on kids in general, because the older I get, the more I think about what’s right or wrong in starting a family. And since I’m nowhere near ready for marriage, let alone a child, I went to my mom for answers.
“What if I’m never ready, mom?” or “What if it’s too late when I finally figure out that I am ready, will I regret not having children?”. In response, she told me a funny story I never knew. She laughed a bit, looked at me, and said:
“When we brought you home, I was so happy you were so healthy and beautiful. I was tired and my mind was foggy, but it was love like I never knew before. But then I put you to sleep, and as I was watching you sleep so blissfully, I silently thought to myself: What the f*ck do I do with this kid now?”.
Part 1: Things No One Dares To Say
Needless to say, most mothers love their children unconditionally. No conditions whatsoever, and I can prove this by my mother’s absolute support and love through all the stupidity I put her through. However, a lot of moms, especially new moms, feel this silent, yet aching guilt when it comes to their own lives, as they feel theirs have taken a second, rather neglected place in their minds and hearts.
“Being a mommy is hard. When you have a kid for the first time, you feel…weird”, said my mother to me. “I was like, I’m responsible or this little human? All of the time? How can I ever go to work, or do the things I did before this child. It was so confusing. You gain a real-life angel, but lose a part of yourself, and that’s very scary in the beginning. You feel like you can either have the kid, or yourself, but never both.”
It’s this motherhood depression that doesn’t get talked about enough. And even when you want kids, nothing will quite prepare you for that moment when they finally arrive.
We’re never really ready for big things in life, just kind of pick up the pieces once the big things hit us. And this is especially relevant when having kids because you have a little human to take care of, constantly. The life of a mom can be debilitating in your mind, or even lonely or depressing.
Your daily life and usual activities change drastically: Guilt, shame, or even nostalgia, and second thoughts start filling your head as you panic about your and your child’s future.
Second thinking motherhood is the biggest “guilt” talk, no mother dares to say aloud, but we applaud the women who do.
“I don t want to be a mom anymore’’ sounds terrifying, but it’s a human experience, nothing more nothing less.
Now, this is not to say that these moms don’t love their kids, or want to give them away; they are just validating their own feelings, instead of shoving them under the kids’ room carpet, “for the sake of the kids”.
These unresolved feelings may bottle up and explode into arguments and unhealthy situations involving both the mother, the kid, and even the entire family. It just beings out chaos. If you do feel like keeping these negative and somewhat hellish feelings and thoughts bottled up, at least come clean to yourself via diary, or anything that is external and not in your head. The more time you spend in your head and with these thoughts, the less time you spend in reality, forcing these thoughts to BECOME your reality.
Part 2: Talking To Your Own Inner Child
For a lot of people, childhood memories don’t have a sweet nostalgic tune to them. These people have grown up, picked up the pieces their parents shattered, and became much better parents themselves.
However, I was scrolling through TikTok the other day and saw a very interesting video from a young mom. As she was filming her kid play, she wrote “I’m so happy I’m able to give my child everything my parents never gave me, and that he is growing up with nothing but love in his life”. But as the camera angle turns to her, she continued “But my inner child is watching this, jealous and alone.”
Projection. We’ve all felt it from our moms one way or another. Whether it’s through career choices, or love itself, they are projecting what they once wanted for themselves onto us.
Or, are feeling this emotional isolation by watching someone they love the most, have everything their young child self never had. This can contribute to strong feelings of regretting motherhood or any other negative thoughts about pregnancy and being a mom.
The conscious distinction between knowing what’s best for yourself, as a mother, and knowing what’s best for your child is a step in the right direction because a lot of the time, those two things are completely different.
Part 3: Hight Goals & Disappointment
Having a baby means unexpected situations and priority alterations, well, almost forever. How to be a happy mom or how to be a good mom are put on this pedestal all the time! I see it in my mom, give yourself some slack, kids are hard work after all.
I would see my mom be so angry or frustrated when we were kids because a plan or schedule got changed due to one of her three kids. If that frustration lands on the kid, it would feel like it’s their fault, which is almost never is. Can’t blame a kid for being a kid. But at the same time, you can’t blame yourself for stressing about how to be a better mom. It’s a process, not a point A to point B trip.
Here’s some good advice:
Accept that kids bring a tad more chaos, it’s just how it is. You can’t just go about your day as you did before, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to think of something else, or better even. With kids, you gain more than you lose, and it’s very hard to see that forest because of that one tree that represents all the bad sides.
It’s kind of like when people try to go back to who they were after a tragic or traumatic experience. That person doesn’t exist anymore. But a new individual is waiting on you to get free, so let them out.
The Ambivalence of being a Mom
This isn’t just after you have kids, but also before and during pregnancy. I hate being pregnant or I regret doing this mid-pregnancy happens more often than many women dare to admit. I don’t know if I want kids, the idea scares me honestly. I don’t know if I want to change anything in my life for kids, or if I’m capable of changing parts of myself to be a better mom in the future. I have no clue, and I don’t even think about it that much honestly.
This blog got me into thinking, especially now that I’m in my 20s. I know I don’t want to be left with hollow feelings and thoughts like I don’t like being a mom or even internally screaming that I hate being a mom, which is something all mothers have gone through at one point in their lives.
Would I be a bad mom for thinking like this now? Am I a bad mom for not even liking kids in general? They’re loud, annoying and 70% of them are not even cute, let’s be real here. But as women, there is a lot of pressure on us to have to figure these things out by the time we’re 23, or else It will be “too late”.
That “too late” thing irritates me the most because it awakens these feelings of guilt and shame before we even get to be moms. I’m not in the position to be talking for moms, but I’m sure most women can relate to this. Having kids pressure is more on us, especially when we’re in our 20s.
I regret having kids would be a scary scenario, but a human one. Just because you don’t feel about something the way you’ve been taught to, doesn’t invalidate the feelings you have and it doesn’t make you a monster. And I think it’s time to take away that shameful blanket that’s been placed on moms, as most of them can’t even speak about their real feelings without people questioning their love for their kids.
Questioning motherhood does not equal being a shitty mom or parent. Making mistakes as a mom is inevitable, just truly inevitable. Even if you had the best mom, there were still times when you as a child felt “cut short”, which is just human nature.
So, guilt-shaming yourself because of a basic, standard and perfectly normal human response is a waste of time, no matter what anyone on the outside thinks.