Love and Regret about mothers who wished they had never had children. The comments that follow this article reflect gratitude that we can finally talk honestly about the hardships of motherhood without trying to paper over the pain and draw a happy face.
If women can talk about post-partum depression or abortion regret without stigma, why can't women talk about regret around motherhood? These women do love their children but they don't love the role of mother. Motherhood comes wrapped up in glittery paper and a bow but often the gift of a child comes with thwarted dreams, gendered roles, health and wellness challenges, and unanticipated burdens and outcomes of all kinds.
Orna Donath, a sociologist from Israel who was decidedly childfree interviewed 23 mothers who regret having children and published her findings in which she noted that while motherhood “may be a font of personal fulfillment, pleasure, love, pride, contentment and joy”, it “may simultaneously be a realm of distress, helplessness, frustration, hostility and disappointment, as well as an arena of oppression and subordination”. The women she interviewed had expressed “the wish to undo motherhood” and Donath, being a childfree social scientist, did not judge them for it but instead described their stories as the “unexplored maternal experience”.
Kudos to Donath and her study participants for their bravery and honesty!