In September, Laura* a 37-year-old journalist in Los Angeles, United States told Marie Claire “the thing about realising you shouldn’t have kids” is that you can’t take that decision back.
While Laura believed she wanted to become a mother she now says, “I really didn’t know what I was in for.”
She talks about how overwhelmed and frustrated she was, the lengthy periods of crying she endured, and how she was bored and dissatisfied. It was a cloud that never lifted.
“The regret hit me when the grandmas went home and my husband went back to the office and I was on my own with him [her son]. I realised that this was my life now — and it was unbearable,” Laura tells Marie Claire.
It’s a big call admitting that you’d wished your child had never been born, but it’s not uncommon.
Across the world there is the ideal of motherhood being projected. Included in the unthinkable are all the things new mothers and prospective mothers are being told they shouldn’t do with the big one being a push to continue working instead of taking maternity leave.
However, when a mother says she regrets becoming one at all you can hear the collective gasp of disbelief at expressing such honesty and the women are treated like monsters.
Shouldn’t we instead be asking why there are an increasing number of women feeling this way?
“Motherhood is no longer an all-encompassing role for women now,” says Toni Morrison in Andrea O’Reilly’s Motherhood: A Politics of Heart.
“It was the most liberating thing that ever happened to me,” Morrison tells The Guardian, highlighting that her children’s demands on her were things no one had ever asked her to do. “To be a good manager. To have a sense of humour. To deliver something that somebody could use.”
The movement appears to have been kickstarted more than a decade ago when Corinne Maier sent Europe into a spin when she released No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children.
Maier says, “Enough with this ‘baby-mania’ that is plaguing modern society; it’s nothing but brainwashing.”
Among the reasons she cited not to have children: losing touch with your friends, an end to your sex life, the cost of children, the nightmares of your holidays, and that the planet is already over-crowded.
It’s understandable (maybe) that the book was branded “selfish” and “incredible distasteful”.
Yet, such openness has encouraged others who feel the same to step up to the microphone.
“I don’t think it was worth it,” says Tammy*. “Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, but it comes at a huge cost; mentally emotionally and physically.”
“I wonder if my accomplishments would be more spectacular,” says 38-year-old writer and editor Ananya. “Would I have written my second or third book? Would I be able to travel to chase that elusive story? I feel motherhood has slowed me down so much.”
“I am a stay at home mother of two (7 and 4) with big regrets,” writes an anonymous poster on a Facebook page just for those who regret having children. “I love them, but I’m not happy. They have taken all my freedom, I can’t get a job… Now I’m just doing never-ending house duties.”
Society has evolved to such an extent that some feel compelled to share every detail of their life, and yet when it comes to a subject as delicate as this one many would prefer women just kept their thoughts to themselves.