Inside the Growing Movement of Women Who Wish They’d Never Had Kids by S. Treleaven
But as often happens when one person gives sudden voice to your secret inner turmoil, more women began to—timidly or boldly or both—step up to the mic.
..Not surprisingly, the movement has gained most of its traction on the internet, in anonymous chat rooms and on buried message boards, vestiges of safe spaces for women online. There are sub-communities on (Link): Quora and (Link): Reddit—even a Facebook group called (Link): “I Regret Having Children”—with mothers tapping out desperate messages of shame, disappointment, and fear.
… Despite the fact that we have officially entered the age of oversharing—documenting anything and everything on social media from children’s births to family deaths—there are still things women are not supposed to feel, and certainly not to openly discuss. Regretting motherhood is the biggest to date.
… When author Ayelet Waldman declared in (Link): The New York Times in 2005 that she loves her husband (fellow author Michael Chabon) more than her four children, she was promptly flamed and even booed by an audience full of mothers when she (Link): went on Oprah to defend herself.
But Waldman stirred controversy for the sake of expressing one of the fundamental frustrations across women who regret having children, and even those who don’t: motherhood should be your primary identity above all others.
Do we expect the same of men? Of course not. Fathers, Susan Rohwer wrote for (Link): The Los Angeles Times in 2014, are permitted “multifaceted identities, and are even patted on the back for being involved parents.” With mothers, it’s simply expected that you will be an attentive, highly-involved caretaker, and there is no praise when you are.
…Society’s decisive discomfort with these mothers gets at a larger discomfort with women overall—that we won’t do our fundamental jobs. And that even if we do, we may change our minds.
“This is allegedly dangerous for a culture that depends on women’s collaboration to ‘make children their life’ without questioning it,” observes Orna Donath, an Israeli sociologist and author of (Link): Regretting Motherhood…
And Donath is right: For many countries, raising a family still constitutes a vast landscape of unpaid work that falls almost wholly on women’s shoulders. It’s a societal infrastructure that innately depends on women cheerfully embracing the experience, even if every impulse tells them otherwise.
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