Upon first hearing about this, my first thought was that it’s just another person trying to milk a shameless confession for all its worth. The last thing that grabs one’s attention is an article entitled “Why I Love being a Mommy!!” Want someone to know your name? Air your dirtiest, funkiest laundry out in the wide open, no matter how shocking.
Then I read the thing. It definitely goes against the Cult of Mommy, but it’s not the most provocative thing in the world. She does eventually express having love for her children, and she doesn’t blame anyone–not even “society”–for anything.
Still, though. I wince when I imagine how it would feel if my mother had written this.
I think confessional stuff is good so that people who are going through similar things don’t feel alone. Just reading the harsh comments the article has received makes me wonder just where do unhappy mothers turn to with their thoughts? Who wants to be condemned as evil for not being able to summon up the “right” emotions? It sounds like Dutton managed to forge through dutifully despite it all, but perhaps there are other mothers who have had have had less favorable outcomes simply because the only message one ever hears is how awesome it is to be a mother.
One thing that is missing is practical advice or a solid take-home lesson. Was her only mistake having children, or had she set herself up for disappointment by making motherhood out to be unrealistically self-sacrificing? It seems like she’s the only one who thought she had to stay at home and slave away for her children. No one made her do this, and perhaps it would have been wise for her to at least reflect upon this decision. “Don’t have kids unless you really want them!” seems to be the advice she’s offering, and I think it’s fine advice. But it’s also a little facile. Most people initially think they want kids, even the regretful ones. And I’m willing to bet that most people who initially had reservations about kids end up changing their minds once they arrive. So while I like that she’s so honest, I think her confession isn’t as self-aware as it could be.
1> her poor kids. There’s no way for them to feel good about this.
2> this is certainly a conversation that needs to be happening in public. I think WAY too many people do the date-get married-have kids-move to the suburbs course of life simply because that’s “what’s done” and what’s expected. Not many people really, honestly contemplate the question of whether it’s actually a good idea for them to follow that path or not, or whether they even want to. There’s a TON of people out there, who have kids, but are suck-ass parents and should really NOT be responsible for the formative development of another human being. It needs to be a widely known, absolutely available, and non-stigmatized option to choose not to have kids you don’t actually want. People should be encouraged to actually think about this before their drifting along causes them to just fall into parenthood.
So, I’m glad someone said it out loud. And, her poor kids.
I don’t think this is an unusual story, nor do I think it’s a particularly bad one. How many men have children because it is important to their spouse, and take on the role of a protective, dedicated, but perhaps not particularly involved guardian? Two deeply devoted parents are a great thing, but I don’t think one deeply devoted and one more independent parent is an absolutely terrible setup. I think it’s pretty run of the mill, and the only thing “shocking” here is a the gender aspect.
It does sound like she brought in her own set of issues, and that probably affected her perceptions.
Confessionals like this are kind of take-it-and-leave it for me. They can be interesting, and helpful to some. Sometimes they seem a little navel gazey. But in the end, if it’s free and not wasting paper, I don’t see whats so wrong with being a little navel gazey.
I worked with a woman who admitted she felt exactly the same way. She didn’t hate her kids but had never bonded with them, had no maternal feelings for them and in fact had urged that her husband have full custody when they divorced.
The kids were teenagers when I met them. They were severely screwed up.
Yes, too bad for her kids, but her admitting the truth doesn’t make it worse. I’m sure they already knew at some level, and the confession makes it easier for them to be clear about their own feelings.
I think she sounds like she has a major martyr complex.
Also, I am bewildered by the fact that she couldn’t bond with her son, and thought he was a huge mistake, and then decides to have another kid because “it’s selfish to just have one.” Sure, fuck up another kid in addition to the one you already have.
One of my friends didn’t bond with her first kid, but she did with the second one, so there’s that Skara. Actually I can think of three friends who’ve talked about their lack of … emotion? over their kids. They love them, they’ll do all the motherly stuff, but when my daughter was born I was physically overcome by my feelings of love for her. They never got that overwhelming feeling. It’s tough. Two only had one kid, I’m so pleased and relieved that the one who had two did get the emotional bond with the second one.
The OP’s example sounds realistic. Some of the gals I know, myself included, are simply not maternal. Some of us also feel pressured by society/family/husbands to have kids, and give up sooner or later.
Kudos for writer of the oped to come out and speak her mind outright.
My wife has told me that she never felt any particular bonding with our two boys. I certainly did, and found it hard to believe her feelings…after all, she took care of so many things like clothing, feeding and so forth…all of the normal things that a mom does. What was missing was the warmth. I was the one who hugged them and I related to them on a very deep emotional level.
When the last one left home, I was teary, and my wife was happy that there would be less laundry.
Lest you think she is a bad person, or that I am blaming her for anything, that is not so. She is a wonderful wife, and in many ways a wonderful mother. Our two sons love her, and she loves them, but they know that she and I are different emotional critters, and accept that. They are happy, healthy productive guys who maintain our familial connections. So all in all, this has worked out well for them.
She just isn’t a passionate person - but fully functional as a wife and lover. This is after many years of being married (48), and I would say that I love her still.
I love my children, but it took me a loooooong time to bond with them. Almost a year and a half. Now, at 5 years old they still annoy the crap out of me daily, but I realize that is my problem not theirs. I do not regret having them, but I do wonder wistfully on what my life would be without them. Travel, more money in the bank, more time to myself, more quiet, less stress. But the love, the experience of watching them grow up, the getting to know their personalities, the hugs, the care and concern they show for me, make up for some of what it feels like I lost having them. Life is all about tradeoffs, what ifs, rolling with the punches. Kids or no kids, you will have regrets in life and you deal with what comes.
Not being overwhelmed with motherly emotions is one thing, but leaving a three week old at the store and not realizing it nor caring about it is something else entirely. Her story seems unusually cold. Bitching about your kids and how parenthood isn’t all its cracked up to be is a regular and welcome occurance in my social circle, and it helps keep us sane. But not really giving a shit if your child is dying from having an umbilical cord wrapped around his neck must betray some sort of personality disorder, no? I’d freak the fuck out if I witnessed a perfect strangers baby in that position, or even a puppy. It seems more like controlled psychopathy, sociopathy, or BPD rather than the release of the pent up emotions of a frustrated parent.
Yes, these kids probably already know that their mom is six kinds of ways fucked up. That doesn’t mean they’ll feel better if she tells the world she never wanted them.
It might be important to talk about this issue, but not in a national newspaper. Not with your name and professional photograph plastered all over the place. If she wanted to raise awareness, she could have done it anonymously, so that it would not hurt her children. Why did she choose the public route?
I dunno, would you rather be a kid alone who’s mom doesn’t love you, or be part of a team that mom doesn’t love? Shitty families can be a lot easier to bear if you have a sibling (unless of course you have a shitty sibling then uh…whoops)
For those who didn’t follow the link to the article, it appears the woman gave her real name. The article includes family photos. Had she published anonymously, I wouldn’t have a problem with the story being made public. Since she didn’t, I was too horrified to read much of the story.
My mother would never admit that she regretted having children (it would make her look bad), but we were quite aware that she didn’t bond with us. Mom told my sister, the youngest, that sister was an unwanted child and that Mom cried in despair when she learned she was pregnant. This has always bothered my sister a lot.
Having children ultimately worked to my Mom’s advantage. She’s 91 now and completely senile. Her children have been taking care of her for 25 years. She may not have done real well with the love, but she did great with the guilt.
The bitch in the article needs to remember the old warning that your children will be the ones choosing your nursing home.
To the people who thinks she’s a fucked-up psycho bitch:
Do you think she chose not to have lovey-dovey feelings for her children (a character defect)? Or do you think that there’s something biologically or psychologically wrong with her (she’s disordered somehow)?
I can understand judging her harshly for not writing her blog anonymously. But I’m having a hard time judging her for simply not feeling what one “should”.
I’m curious about what her kids would say. She paints a picture of herself as a dutiful mother who managed to keep her difficulties hidden, but maybe we’d hear a different story from the kids.
I have to give her credit for her honesty. I’m glad she’s publicizing her story. I think a lot of people have babies simply because it’s expected of them, whether they want to or not, and the brutal truth of this article might give them some food for thought. For some people, having a baby is the best thing that ever happened to them. But for some people it isn’t, and I think it’s important to hear what they have to say, too. When I tell people I have no desire for children, and would be a lousy mother, a common reaction is for them to tell me that those feelings would somehow magically all change if I got pregnant, or if I had a baby. And maybe that’s true a lot of times, but stories like these prove it’s a gamble, and anyone sitting on the fence about parenthood would do well to take them into consideration when deciding if it’s a risk they want to take.
But the woman, herself… Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to meet her. She’s a complete idiot. “I’m gonna do something I don’t want to do, and know full well will make me miserable, even though nobody’s forcing me to. Then I’m gonna purposely make the entire process as difficult for myself as possible. Then, I’m gonna complain about my ruined life, and become bitter and resentful. And I’m gonna do it twice.” :rolleyes:
ETA: I agree that she should have done it anonymously, though. I’m sure her kids already knew, but “my mother thinks I ruined her life, and she wishes I’d never been born”, is probably not a statement they would choose to publicize on their own.
As I said above I believe she has a brain disorder, possibly psychopathy (inability to empathize) based on her descriptions of her complete lack of feelings toward her children. Psychopaths can pass as normal and adopt the behavioral patterns of normal people well enough, and I think she did. But having no feelings of panic or remorse when leaving a three week old at the store, and having no feelings of panic or concerns when seeing your own newborn nearly die is sign of organic brain disorder to me, especially when taken together.