Relax, this is not a post about how much I love my children. I usually hate reading that kind of stuff; parents telling other parents (worse, other non-parents) how much they love their children. Or how parenting has given them purpose, made life meaningful, completed them in a previously unimaginable way. Tiny Hurl. I’m happy for them but I reckon its more useful telling the kid. But since seeing the hash tag #regrettingmotherhood go viral I’ve had a rethink.
What’s #regrettingmotherhood? These are mothers (some fathers) who have come clean and told the world how much they regret being a parent. Telling as in having a Facebook group and writing a book about it (yes, you can check it’s real). But I imagined how awkward it would be on the receiving end of a #regrettingmotherhood conversation. I got into trouble just for saying that childbirth freaked me out and breastfeeding wasn’t my favorite thing. What would you say? Hearing someone tell how much they hate their kids, how kids have stuffed up their lives, how they regret their kids’ very existence. Okay I am stretching the “hate your kid” part ‘cause most of them stress how much they love their kids but you get the idea. Imagine the guilt that comes with saying that out loud.
What would I do? I’m not sure. Cause I do understand some of what those mothers are saying. Being a mother messes up your body. You can’t do many of the things you used to do. You can’t do some of the things you always thought you’d want to do. It changes you and your life in ways that you don’t always like. I get it. I’ll give you an example. I used to be a lawyer, not a LA Law kind of lawyer or even a Good Wife kind of lawyer but a good enough one. I was a reasonable, non-shouty person that could negotiate things calmly. I had enough words in me to make that kind of thing happen.
Now I have children and iParent. I ban iPad time to get what I want. Eating, dressing, doing homework, going to bed – iParent and it’s not the parent I wanted to be. Sometimes I even kick it up a notch to iParent8 and ban all screens : the Bermuda Triangle of iPad, TV and X-box. “I want my Screams back!” is my youngest’s (the nail in my iParent coffin) standard lisped response to this state of maternal meltdown. But seriously it works. Even last week when in one of those idiotic night time Mexican stand offs the youngest came to our bed and tried to get me to sleep in the middle. My iParent wasn’t fully charged so reasoning, hugs and even an offer to move together to his room was made. My husband is usually steadfast (and asleep) during these encounters but youngest and I dragged it out long enough and drove him mad enough to wake the beast and make him speak. “If you don’t lie down and sleep in the middle then no screens for the whole day tomorrow.” Just like that, the kid flopped over and went to sleep. In the middle. Doubly impressive because he is still making sense of when today, tomorrow and yesterday is. Even in his sleep, my husband (clearly the smarter tech parent with a backup battery) got results with iParent when nothing I said worked.
So I get that parenting brings regrets about some things. I hate that I can so much easier lose my mind and iParent instead of doing the zillion conversations and rewards charts that hundreds of mothers groups say you must (yes I tried them). And I get that there might be a mourning for the things you’ve lost permanently or temporarily. Sleep, sanity, sex (hopefully not all three!) But I’m sticking my neck out: While I think its cringey to tell someone how much you love your kids I think it’s worse to say you regret them. Going on about how much you regret them probably won’t make things better anyway. Kids are just small people, they’re not dumb, they’ll figure out how you feel about them without seeing your Facebook groups. And even if kids are loved, maybe especially if they are loved, think what it will do to a child to know that the people they most love have most regretted having them. German columnist Harald Martenstein compared it to child abuse.
The German might be extreme but still, I’ve decided that next time someone is all loved up about their kid I’m going to give myself some advice “Suck it up buttercup!” I think it’s the same advice I’ll give the #regretmotherhood crowd.
Share if you dare ! Until next week my friends in the computer
PS – Here’s what first caught my eye.http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/
PPS – I’ve decided that qwerky.co.za looks a bit crap so updating it, I’m going to add the blog directly in so watch for changes in the next week. And Being Kari book bits will be up soon but not for another month at least (I’ve got word that a publisher is still considering so I can’t put it up myself yet. Hate waiting but holding thumbs anyway!)