Monday, June 19th, 2017 11:16 am
I'm trying to think of whether there's any societally acceptable way (offline, outside of the kind of circles that we encounter here in online fandom) for a woman who's already had kids to express the sentiment that she wishes she'd never had them and I'm coming up blank.

The ones I can think of would mostly get waved away as "selfishness" - ie. career interruption, limitations on lifestyle - or "that's part of the role" - ie. emotional/physical/mental struggle, dealing with the children 90% of the time.

Can you think of one?
Monday, June 19th, 2017 01:34 am (UTC)
Not offhand—but if we had better societal support for mothers, such that it didn't have to be and in fact consistently was not three full-time jobs (on top, often, of whatever she does to bring money into the household), then I am confident it'd be less of an issue. Like. If mothers weren't always either halting their careers to raise the kids or being criticized for not so doing, then who would regard a desire to not halt one's career in order to raise kids as a selfish desire? That'd just be a normal desire! I mean. It is a normal desire—in fathers.

I'm going to shut up before I rant about sexism in parenting and in treatment of parents for more than a single paragraph!
Monday, June 19th, 2017 03:08 am (UTC)
If the kid does something ghastly, I think the mom can probably get away with saying that, especially if she was seen to be doing everything she could to get the kid help, but to no avail.

A kid is from a poor family. His single mom has been working three jobs to get him the psychiatric help he needs, but in spite of all her efforts, one Tuesday she hears that there has been a school shooting in the neighborhood, and the shooter has been shot dead by responding cops. It is her son.

She gets to play the "I wish I'd never given birth to him!" card with impunity.
Monday, June 19th, 2017 01:39 am (UTC)
Um... No. I can't. Which is a shame.

Guess what? I don't want kids. I find it incredible how much wanting to have kids is foisted on everyone. And I don't blame people who wish they hadn't. You can still love the kid you got while regretting having gotten them. But I have no idea how to say that in a socially acceptable way.
Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 01:22 am (UTC)
"I never wanted kids, but my husband pressured me"

A cousin of mine once told me this. She couldn't get pregnant and her husband pressured her into adopting two kids. Then he divorced her about a year after they adopted the 2nd child.


I felt really badly for her - and since I never wanted children myself, I was likely way more sympathetic than most people would have been. I imagine the typical response would be, "But think of all the joy they've brought into your life! Aren't you glad you had them?!?" Followed by shocked condemnation if she replied, "Well, no, not really."
Monday, June 19th, 2017 01:51 am (UTC)
Sadly, the only example I can think of is when the child has severe disabilities :/
Monday, June 19th, 2017 02:04 am (UTC)
and then she can murder the kid flat out and admit to cops that's what she did and nobody except disabled adults actually thinks she deserves more than being sternly finger-wagged at >_
Monday, June 19th, 2017 02:16 am (UTC)
The only thing I can think where society would generally be more likely to agree that she shouldn't have had kids is a) if all of her kids were severely disabled and a huge burden on society (not just on the mother), or b) if she were a huge huge star in her field and everyone could say that yes a great mind was lost to needing to quit her job and become a mother (but that would be less likely, because many people would just say women are supposed to give up their jobs, no matter how good they are. Like, even if she were two seconds away from discovering the cure to cancer, but she had to drop everything when she went into labor -- people would say well, but of course she had to stop her research and become a mother.

Well. If she were a hot and sexy starlette whom the men were all drooling over and fantasising about fucking, and she quit making movies to get stretch marks and be fat, then yes they'd say what a shame.
Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 10:42 am (UTC)
I just read "The Devil's Candy", and that's exactly the way people (men) talk about Melanie Griffith in it. "She was so hot, but now she's an ancient crone at 32 with stretch mark and saggy tits, and I can't stand to look at her."
Monday, June 19th, 2017 04:50 am (UTC)
I think it's a perfectly reasonable thing to state to friends (but then, I come from the mental-illness position, so my view is particular).
Monday, June 19th, 2017 02:43 pm (UTC)
I was thinking that there might be acceptance at least in some circles if she had never wanted to follow through with a pregnancy and was forced to (e.g. child of a rape, abortion unavailable or inaccessible for some reason), but it would be controversial.

I also think there is a difference between 'I never wanted to have a baby' and 'I never wanted to raise children.' Like, it does things to your body that are permanent, but having a baby doesn't necessitate raising one, and likewise, there are ways that you can wind up with children to raise that you didn't necessarily want and don't feel like you can walk away from (eg. your partner has children from another relationship, you get wardship of children of relatives somehow). I think there are contexts in both of those where a woman could get away with saying she has regrets.

But "I chose to have children and now I wish I hadn't" is trickier.

On the other hand - have you ever read A Doll's House by Ibsen? The main character in that winds up abdicating all of her family responsibilities because she feels trapped by her life and feels no sense of fulfillment - written in Denmark in 1879...
Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 10:39 am (UTC)
I once listened to a really interesting interview with a woman who'd written a book about that. There really isn't a societally acceptable way for a mother to express regrets about motherhood, so she'd ended up talking to a lot of women who were just so grateful that finally someone was sharing their story.

It kind of broke my heart to listen to, honestly.
Edited 2017-06-20 10:43 am (UTC)