Let’s talk about having kids and regretting having kids. I posted the comments below in a New York Times post that asked for parents that regret having kids to respond and share their story.
I am glad that such a big media outlet is putting the spotlight on this subject, which we keep so taboo in our culture.
I love my kids and don’t regret them for one second, but I was, dare I say, fortunate enough to struggle with fertility long enough that I went into it knowing that it was my own selfish desire to have them, knowing that it would be hard, knowing that it would require me to do some serious self-work and evolve.
A lot of people don’t have that time to reflect before kids arrive – or their families and culture lead them to believe it is just some wonderful snuggle fest where you finally get the love you never had as a child and can create the perfect family and go to the zoo on weekends and read books from the library and use a time out chair you made from plans on Pinterest.
Kids, if we allow them, will lead us to awakening faster than almost any other path because of the intensity of their presence and needs. You can’t walk away from kids….
And, if you don’t have a child, please don’t view these comments as “momsplaining”… You are not the person that needs to hear this message. You don’t need to defend your choice to not have kids and you don’t need to compare your own personal growth to that of a parent. You already know your path is hard and I applaud you living in your truth. You know as well as I do that a lot of parents can still live in denial and resist the journey you’re already on.
Instead, it is my fellow moms that need to read this message and know that their journey is REAL.
PLEASE remove the stigma, raising a child requires the hardest inner work and healing an adult will ever be called to do. Plus it’s just incredibly inconvenient to do it well! It is OK to regret and it is OK to not have a child in the first place. Parents need to stop sugar coating this work – it is not always amazing, wonderful, the best thing ever… it is the start of an intense personal journey toward wholeness OR 18+ years of resisting your own growth and struggling through it – sending another adult out into the world that will also have to someday heal.
It’s not that kids themselves are the problem, it is literally just the inner work they call us to do. They are our greatest teachers and some people aren’t ready for that. Some people aren’t ready for the inconvenience. All of it is OK, no judgement either way.
Suffering and of course disability are a path to awakening. Everyone is on their own journey. I can say that there is nothing quite like having a child, however, as most people will have a fear of screwing them up from the moment of conception onward. A relentless, powerful, demand to fix our own stuff, grow ourselves up, and model the kind of human they already come to earth knowing how to be – there is no one else to blame but us.
It is a 24/7 job to heal, shed, and evolve. Every choice we make, from the way we love ourselves to the relationships we maintain to the boundaries we set to the food we eat to whether or not we do the dishes affects them. They mirror EVERYTHING that we are or aren’t.
It is TREMENDOUS pressure and not a day goes by that they don’t do something that triggers a memory in our subconscious that presents us with a chance to heal and grow. And a lot of people don’t, and they project their pain on their kids, and their kids suffer and form their own shell, and the parent feels guilt, and onward the cycle goes.
There is no break, there is no reprieve, we can’t walk away… because they rely on us for everything. Oh, and on top of all of this, we live in a culture where we try to do it with no help AND work a full time job – asking kids to adhere to schedules and situations they were never really meant to adapt to. We forego self care for this notion of “selflessness” that serves NO ONE. Or we are single and have not a minute to focus on and love ourselves the way our kids need us to. We have to stay up late when we’re already tired to soak in the tub, or do some art, or pursue a passion – anything that fills us back up. But that doesn’t work because the baby’s up half the night then the day begins again.
I think that is the real difference between the journey of a parent and the journey of everyone else – time. The ability to pause. The ability to ignore. The ability to leave. The ability to sleep. The ability to give yourself what you need without as many constraints on your time and resources.
Kids ask us to be fully present, to see, hear, and validate them every moment we spend together. A parent that never had that done for them will be in new territory every day, awakening moment by moment to who it is they truly are. Kids will shine a blindingly bright light on every area of your life where you’re being inauthentic every single moment of the day.
You are so right, kids don’t fix anything. They force us to stop pretending nothing’s broken. ?
Please share your REAL thoughts on parenting with your friends and encourage them to follow their truth. Having children is NOT a journey for everyone. Don’t ask your newly married friend when they’re having kids. Don’t push your adult children to give you grandchildren. Don’t encourage people to hang on to the baby toys just in case. Remind them that it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. Children ARE amazing but the evolution they require to be raised in a healthy way can be overwhelming, especially to those who have already experienced great trauma.