Mailonline has an interesting article by Lucy Cavendish, “I love my kids, but I admit it-I’m happier on my own!” She talks about how she loves her kids but has to admit her moments of “genuine bliss” do not revolve around being a mother. As you might expect,
she got an array of comments, from criticizing her for admitting this, to “of course you need a break from the kids!,” to speculating she regrets having kids, and more, some sympathetic, some harsh.
She speaks to how the book, Bluebird: Women And The New Psychology of Happiness confirms she is not alone. When author Ariel Gore asked mothers to keep track of their moments of genuine bliss, they mostly had to do with other things that did not involve the children–“In short, anything that didn’t involve mothering.”
My own reaction to Lucy’s piece is that she seems to be content being a mom, but just needs more time for herself and needs to let more parts of herself live. Unfortunately, womanhood is still so often seen as synonymous with motherhood. But as many of us know, mothers and not, being a mother is just part of who we are. Lucy may be an example of a mother who needs to explore more of who she is in addition to being a mother.
Speculating about Lucy aside, I like seeing pieces like this. Society needs to quit buying into the pronatalistic notion that having children is the thing that makes us fulfilled and happy. Buying into it is what creates the parental guilt for feeling children are not what make them happy, and for admitting that this is true. Children may make some of us happy but it sure is not the ticket for lots of us. More moms and dads need to talk more openly about what’s not so great about parenthood. It helps those trying to make their own decision be more realistic about whether is something they really want to do.
Being open and real about parenthood makes for better parenthood decisions, and for those who decide to have kids, makes for better parents. When anonymously asked more than half of parents (from a Dr. Phil survey and others) would say if they had to do it over again they would Not become parents. To reduce the number of people who think they made the wrong decision, we need to stop glorifying the role of parenthood, and like Lucy, talk candidly about the parent experience.
Parents and not–what is your reaction to Lucy’s piece?