Motherhood is hard, and it's not for everyone. And, while it's hard enough for some women to outwardly share that they don't want children, there's certainly no easy way for women who've already had children to admit that motherhood isn't all it was cracked up to be... or, worse, that it's a troubling experience they regret.
Of course, regretful mothers would loathe confessing that parenthood is a lot more than just emotionally, mentally and physically taxing for them. They don't just have moments in which they miss their freedom. And they're not just exhausted. Rather, they're afraid to voice that they truly wish they'd never had children (even if they love them), lest they become vilified as horrible humans.
So what happens if you feel this way, or you know a mother who does? What can you possibly do in this situation — the stuff of nightmares?
Why do some women hate being moms?
There are a myriad of reasons why some women don't take well to motherhood, beyond the fact that postpartum depression is very real. Some women might not have ever had intentions of becoming mothers, but gave birth to unplanned children. Others might have had such high hopes surrounding motherhood that the real deal doesn't quite match up to what they'd envisioned. Some women might just think they're not capable enough to be mothers, even if they are. Some might simply have different priorities, or have had poor relationships with their own mothers, or just feel overall apathetic.
Isabella Dutton, a 57-year-old mother explained why she loathed motherhood in an article published on the Daily Mail. She wrote:
"Even now, 33 years on, I can still picture the scene: Stuart was asleep in his crib. He was due to be fed but hadn't yet woken. I heard him stir but as I looked at his round face on the brink of wakefulness, I felt no bond. No warm rush of maternal affection. I felt completely detached from this alien being who had encroached upon my settled married life and changed it, irrevocably, for the worse."
Still, she accepted her responsibilities as a mother and cared of her son, nonetheless.
"Quite simply, I had always hated the idea of motherhood," she continued. "In that instant, any lingering hope that becoming a mum would cure me of my antipathy was dispelled. I remember asking myself, 'Is he really mine?' He could, quite literally, have been anyone's baby. Had a kind stranger offered to adopt him at that moment, I would not have objected. Still, I wished no harm on Stuart and invested every ounce of my energy in caring for him. Even so, I know my life would have been much happier and more fulfilled without children."
3 Women explain why they hate being moms.
I reached out to women like Dutton to explain why they, too, regret motherhood. Here's what they had to say.
1. "I'm not cut out for it."
"It took me until having children that I realized I'm just not cut out for motherhood," says Leann, a mother of two. "I had a second child because I didn't want my firstborn to grow up without siblings. And I love them both, of course. I do everything in my power to be the best mom to them that I can. But the reality is that I just don't think I'm all the capable of being a great parent. I work full time and can't afford not to. I'm on the local environmental board, too, and I don't want to give that up. I just have limited time and I'm not great at prioritizing, and I don't want to make the sacrifices I'm making. I just don't think I should have taken on so much."
2. "I'm depressed."
"Motherhood feels sort of depressing for me at times," says Ada, a mother of three. "It's not just that I miss my old life. Of course I do, and I'm sure other women wish they had more freedom and flexibility, too. We're all human! It's just that I actually get depressed, and I think a lot of the depression stems from feeling inadequate for my family and feeling the pressure of having to provide for them. Before, I just had to work hard and do well for myself. Now, I have mouths to feed. I have people to please. Everything I do is for everyone else. I've lost a lot of myself in that sense, and the pressure is high. I think a lot of moms feel like motherhood is the greatest job in the world, and it is really great. But, to me, it's also the most stressful job in the world, and the stress is crushing for me. I know that the stress isn't healthy, and I know that I need to be healthy for my kids, too. It's a Catch-22."
3. "I never wanted kids."
"I never wanted to have kids in the first place, but had an unplanned daughter," says Josephina. "I love my daughter and think I'm actually a decent mother. But there are times that, as much as it pains me to admit it, I resent motherhood. I try not to take it out on her or even let her know how I feel. But I just think I would have been better off had I never gotten pregnant. Things change, and I've changed. And I don't mind motherhood. But I don't feel this crazy strong sense of pride like other moms feel. I just feel like, I had this baby, and now I have to care for her. That's the extent of it."
What are some resources for moms in need?
If you or a mother you know are in need of help, here are some resources:
- The National Center for Healthy Safe Children
- The Parenting Well Program
- The Depression Resource Center
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.