To the Mother Who Says “I Regret Having Children”

This morning I read an article in the New York Post called ‘I Regret Having Children.’

SPOILER ALERT: It’s NOT the feel-good read of the year. In fact, it’s pretty depressing. Now, if you know me in real life, you know I am a big proponent of “keeping it real”—especially when it comes to motherhood. I think we need to own the wonderful moments AND the moments when we’re crying because we just got pooped on for the 400th time in one day. Motherhood is not without it’s struggles—and that’s part of what makes it so beautiful! Because the struggles DO make you stronger! So when I’m venting about how I didn’t sleep well last night because I got kicked in the head repeatedly by whichever child decided to lay claim to my bed in the middle of the night and pull a Starfish, I don’t need you to tell me to “cherish every moment.” I need you to say, “UGH! That is the WORST! You deserve extra coffee today!”

However!! There’s a difference between venting about the normal ups and downs of motherhood and living in a cycle of negativity over the struggles that taking care of your little people brings. And the tone of the New York Post article, where moms of infants to tweens talk about how they gaze upon their spawn and think “I wish he or she had never been born,” is VERY CONCERNING. Let me throw out a couple examples.

A mom of a 2-year old says of motherhood, “It’s not me. I miss my old life so much I just feel like walking out and leaving my husband and son. I hate playing in the park. I want to go to a gallery. I hate watching Peppa Pig — I want to read a novel. I hate going to playgroups — I want to have lunch with friends. I do everything I can for my son and he is lovely. Yet motherhood so far has left me feeling like I have been conned out of my real life.”

Then there’s the mother of 10-month-old twins, imagining scenarios in which she can break free from the bondage of marriage and motherhood.

“I have 10 month old twins, and I hate my life. My husband is in the Army, so away a lot. I hate the monotony and the constant CONSTANT crying and battles for attention. I’ve hated it since they were born. Since having them I’ve become increasingly bitter, depressed and angry. I want to start over but my husband will not sacrifice his career and won’t have full custody. I do not want to be a single mum as this would just increase in the intensity.”

And finally, the single mom of a 12-year-old:

“I regret having my daughter. She is now 12 and it is easier as they get older, but sometimes I look at her and wish she had never been born. I was/am a single mother and right from the start the moment the midwife gave her to me I didn’t feel this instant love that people talk of, all I felt was the huge weight of regret.”

Here’s what I want to say to these moms who regret having these precious children.

Dear Mamas,

I commend you for being brave enough to express how you really feel. I am SURE that was hard. Motherhood is full of judgment from other moms and it’s scary to admit you aren’t perfect. I am NOT one of those judgers. I have only love to give you today.

But here’s the thing, girl. Those desperately negative feelings about motherhood can CHANGE. Because YOU can change. Your kids aren’t going away, and even if you run away or give up custody of them, you will still be their mother. Nothing can change that. But YOU CAN CHANGE.

I get it, I do. This stuff is HARD. I have stood before God and PLEAD with Him to let certain “cups pass from me” when it come to mothering. I’ve dealt with hard things with my kids, and as my oldest is only 13, I know there are many more hard things ahead. Motherhood is HARD.

But what I’ve come to realize is, motherhood isn’t ABOUT ME.  And it’s not ABOUT YOU. It’s about what we Christians call “dying to self” and putting someone else first every day. It’s about selflessness and service, not “I want,” “I miss,” or “If only.”

To stop hating motherhood, you’re going to have to start acting. You may have to fake it at first, but the amazing thing is, when you give to your children sacrificially, when you treat it as if it is a joy and a privilege, it BECOMES a joy and a privilege! And it changes your heart.

There will still be moments when you hide in the bathroom with a Hershey bar, but there will be FAR fewer moments when you look at the best thing you EVER did and wished him or her away.

Your life is about so much more than the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want. If you don’t feel like it has purpose now, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say it’s because you have never been told how much MOTHERING MATTERS. You don’t have to embrace my faith in Christ to believe and see that changing diapers, wiping butts and noses and making peanut butter sandwiches is HOLY WORK. Caring for little lives, LOVING THEM, instilling them with love and kindness and raising them to be world-changers? Makes YOU a world-changer. YOU matter. Parenting MATTERS. Breaking up sibling fights and telling them it’s no big deal when they pee all over your sheets MATTERS.

Society WILL NOT TELL YOU THIS. And sad to say, the article you are featured in with the New York Post only enforces the message that motherhood is a waste of time.

You say you wish your children had never been born, but I say I wish YOU could die. Die to your OLD self. Do that my darlings, and you will really start loving.

You can DO this. You can LOVE motherhood and you can ROCK motherhood.

It’s not ABOUT you, but YOU have to take the first step. And I’ll be right behind you, holding you up when you start to fall back, I promise. You can find my email in my bio below if you need encouragement. You can do it. START TODAY.

Much love,

Jenny

P.S. And mama? If you are truly depressed and cannot care for your kids, please see a doctor. Postpartum depression can last far past the infant stage, and it just might be that selfishness and narcissism isn’t your problem—depression is. If there is a serious medical condition standing between you and your beautiful kids, it doesn’t have to be that way. Please, please, please see your doctor.

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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.