I recently read a Marie Claire article titled “Inside the Growing Movement of Women Who Wish They’d Never Had Kids.” And to be honest, I think it may have made me love mothering even more.
I can easily surmise that I won’t be the first in the line of people backlashing against this article, and this supposed “movement.” The author of the article states that there is even a Facebook group where mothers vent out their regret about having children. And while I think others might berate these women for being selfish and cruel, what I truly feel is sadness for them and disappointment at this total and utter lack of understanding. An understanding that I feel if these women truly internalized and knew, would not regret having their children.
Let me first say, that I realize as a mother of a baby I have not yet been through the tantrums of a 2 year old, nor the outbursts of a teenager. And in my seven months of motherhood, I would not take to the podium and preach on good parenting. In contrast, in fact, there are many points to which I agree with these women. Or at least, can understand and empathize with.
Much of the article spoke about mothers who longed for what they could have done had they not had children; wrote more books, traveled the world, enjoyed vacations. Others commented on their sheer boredom with life and the triviality of the day to day. And finally others about their sadness and depression.
To be honest, the moments and days after giving birth, and sometimes even months, can be quite overwhelming and filled with depressed emotions and heightened sadness. It is a whole new world, the one of motherhood. It is a complete change of a women’s identity and life role. Not to mention the hormones that are suddenly introduced. I myself had my low-points. Who can blame me? Suddenly we are not sleeping or eating on any normal schedule and there is a little person gnawing on us, keeping us up, and shrieking mercilessly day in and day out. Who would not fall into a ball on the couch and cry?
And those boring day to days for those of us moms who stay home? When you go from being a highly productive member of society, in heels and a suit, attending to an office but then are suddenly home with spit up stained shirts and toys all over the floor, you begin to question your purpose in this world…and your sanity.
I understand all of this. Being a mother is difficult. And while I could go on to give a list of productive tips I’ve come up with on keeping your sanity, your sense of self, and your happiness in these beginning (and foreseeably ongoing) mommy moments, I have another point to make.
Since becoming a mother, I have experienced my own sorts of challenges. I dealt with postpartum blues, finished a masters degree program, was offered a job – turned it down, and now spend my days in a one bedroom apartment wondering when the next moment will be that I see a woman my age. And I have had my low points as I try to adjust to this new lifestyle. I, the girl who wanted to be a famous and fabulous stylist or writer when I was younger, am at home washing bottles for a living.
However, among others, there is a crucial point that these women make that I don’t agree with. And that is regret.
My baby girl is my biggest joy, my most precious gift, and the greatest accomplishment I could ever imagine. To regret bringing this wonderful and delicious human being into the world would be a catastrophic mistake. And while there are hard times adjusting to motherhood, I love being a mother. I love feeding my baby food, just to watch her mouth open in anticipation of the next bite. I love getting her dressed, just to sneak a peek at her chubby belly. I love when she wakes me, just to see her giggly face awaiting me inside of her crib. Sure, there are moments I’d like to feel as though I am changing the world, and not just diapers. But thats just it. I am.
Judaism teaches that each person is a whole world. If that’s the case, a mother is a conduit for helping in the creation of a human being and then bringing them to their full potential. Which would mean a mother is creating and sustaining a whole world.
I and my closest friend are “accountability partners.” Sometimes we go stir crazy in our houses, and we must call each other up just for the reminder that, “Guess what? You’re doing a great job. You’re creating a world.”
In one of my favorite classes to date, Rabbi Kelemen is speaking with a young woman who has come to his office in hopes of discussing a pressing issue with him. She tells him point blank that she wants to have a surgery that will ensure she never has children. When asked why, she says this world is a nightmare and why would she ever do something so terrible as to bring another child into it?
Rabbi Kelemen’s response to her, is my mantra through motherhood, and through life. He tells her “if you came to this world to take, this world is a nightmare, but if you came to it to give, it is a dream.”
This is the point I believe these women are misunderstanding. Of course, life can be hard and of course, it would be easier to sit with your feet up, drinking a martini on the beach. I think anyone would be hard-pressed to find a mother who disagrees with the notion that that would be easier. But life is not only about what is easy.
If that were the case why do anything seemingly difficult at all? Why not just lie in bed everyday with Netflix streaming in the background? Why? Because most of us know, if even deep down, that we were created for more than just easy, more than just fun. Deep down we know, we were created to give.
Having a child and raising them is the greatest “give” we can do. It may be exhausting. There may be less spontaneous vacations. We may have less sleep. However, to regret such a gift would be regretting our purpose for existence: giving.
And if that is not reason enough, why not at least do it for that beautiful, chubby-cheeked smile that we see in the morning? I’d trade millions of vacations just to see that face everyday..and to know I created it.