When empathy failed me

Today I read this article about women who regret having children. Apparently, there is even a Facebook page dedicated to providing support for such people. Upon reading this, I felt astonished, a bit disgusted, and then a mix of irritation and anger. So I decided to delve into these emotions and figure out why this affected me so.

Fact #1: I tend to be conservative. By this I don’t mean to say that society should not change or that all change is bad. The key word here is “tend”. Many a times my initial reactions are conservative. Then I think deeper about issues and my actual actions end up being different.

Fact #2: I am totally fine with people who do not want kids. In fact, I appreciate those who have the good sense to know what they do and do not want. If someone knows that they are not cut out for parenthood and choose to be childless, they are doing themselves and the whole world a favor. Motherhood is sacred to me, but I get that it takes all kinds of people to make the world.

However, this “I have kids but I regret having them” just rubs me the wrong way. When I initially felt disgust after reading the article, I told myself “hey there, slow down. Don’t be so quick to judge. You do not know their lives, so don’t make up your mind so fast”. But really, unless you had kids and you were so bad at parenting that they turned out to be serial killers or something, I don’t get how a parent can say that. I certainly do not understand how there can be so many people who feel that way. It is true that the internet brings even small groups of like-minded people from the world together, but it really stunned me that there is a Facebook page for this.

Most if not all people who are ambivalent about parenting usually fall in love with their baby at some point or another. It may not be the first time they see them or hold them, but it most certainly happens at some stage. You have to be a special kind of weird to go through parenthood and then turn around and say that you regret it.

I believe that people who don’t want children just have different priorities. But these people who regret parenthood are just plain selfish. In the article that I read, this mother told her 12-year-old daughter that she regretted having kids! That to me is a whole other level. Its one thing to even regret it but to tell your child that, that is the height of selfishness!

I take pride in being very empathetic. It’s my strength and my weakness. But this time, empathy fails me.Try as I might, I am unable to put myself in their shoes. I dreamed of being a mother from the time I played with dolls as a 3-year-old. I was in love with my children even before they were conceived. I didn’t just embrace Motherhood, it completed me. This is not to say that I have never had bad days with my kids. Sometimes, when I feel frustrated at being behind in my career because of the break I took to have kids, I quickly realize that I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The article says and I quote ” Would I have published my novel by now? Would I have time to read the stack of lonely books on my nightstand?” I just do not get how one can compare accomplishing a reading challenge to having given birth and raised a whole other human being? (and if you know me, you know how important reading challenges are to me!)

Life is full of regrets. Everyone sets out to live life with no regrets, but rarely do people actually achieve that. I dare anyone to truthfully say that they have no regrets in their lives. If you can, hats off to you. But most people can’t. Regrets are inevitable, because hindsight is 20/20 and buyer’s remorse is a real thing. But to regret having children?

I just don’t get it.

This is probably the most polarized post I have posted. I just wanted to be honest. I believe in the adage that we shouldn’t judge another until we have walked a mile in their shoes, but like I said, I am unable to put myself in those shoes at this time.

-AB

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