Looking back I understand that I was lead to believe, and deeply hoped, that once I became a mother, having fulfilled my biological purpose as it were, I would experience a natural sense of satisfaction and contentment for a job well done. Plus, I thought I would be able to repair all of my mother’s failures and rectify all that I was lacking because of them.
But boy was I wrong!
Turns out having a baby locked me in to a life of care taking, and it only amplified my shortcomings.
For a very long time I thought that there was something wrong with me; that I was defective, a failure, and the unrelenting waves of anxiety, guilt and sadness were only evidence to that fact.
And even though I felt immense commitment and love for my growing brood, I simply couldn’t deny the truth: I didn’t actually like being a mother.
For me being a mother meant that I was stuck serving others at the expense of my own freedom to nurture my own needs and desires.
I struggled for a long time with the shame and guilt that accompanied that truth.
But, over time, as I became more comfortable with it, I was able to embrace it and move forward and finally find joy, fulfilment and satisfaction in my role as a mom and my relationships with my kids.
Nevertheless, as psychologist working with women and mothers today, I see more and more that many women harbour a similar untold secret; that in truth, they wish they had never had kids, or at least they would have waited.
They fantasise of a life where their days and nights are entirely their own, and they are free to do what they like, when they like.
And while some brave trailblazers have taken to the stage to announce their disappointment and regret, they have been met with a tidal wave of stinging criticism and shame, mostly from fellow women and mothers.
It seems that a woman who has not embraced her role and duty to bear children, and enjoy it, is somehow lacking in character and integrity. Which could not be further from the truth.
Whereas, a mother who is forced to bury her loss and sadness over a life that she gave up, and compelled to battle her resentment, not to mention the social shame, may actually be more damaging to her children’s mental and emotional well being than a mother who is willing to face her struggle and speak openly about her suffering.
So I want to take to my soap box and make a plea to every woman, every mother; to accept herself and her shortcoming, and to be kind and compassionate, to herself. To be open and accepting to those who are brave enough to encounter their struggles, and seek camaraderie and support. (for it is far more important for a mother to be honest with herself in her struggle and seek resolve, than suffer silently and force her children into a charade that is more likely to breed insecurity and harm). And instead of letting our fear and discomfort sabotage our own freedom and our gender’s ability to speak up, let’s give ourselves and other mothers permission to speak openly and honestly about our dissatisfactions so the we can all find peace and satisfaction amidst our struggles.