A mother of two is causing quite a stir for admitting the unadmittable -- that she wishes she'd never had her two children and believes that her life would have been much better without them. Woah, lady, this is not something you admit in print -- and use your real name and face -- unless you want to get stoned to death, hopefully just figuratively. But 57-year-old Isabella Dutton is ready to take on her haters. I'm not sure there's any reason to confess in a hugely public forum that you never wanted your two now-grown children, and in fact, still feel that way. But she's also pretty brave, because she's just voicing what lots of other mothers feel.
Isabella says she was never the maternal type, however, she met the love of her life, got married very young, and he wanted four kids. Despite the fact she never wanted even one, she decided to give it a try.
But after first son Stuart was born, she realized her mistake. She says:
I felt no bond. No warm rush of maternal affection. I felt completely detached from this alien being who had encroached upon my settled married life and changed it, irrevocably, for the worse.
She doesn't blame post-partum for these feelings. She says she never
wanted kids, and that feeling continued throughout her life. However,
she went ahead and had a second child anyway, this time a girl, Jo.
Despite not wanting her kids, she says she grew to love them,
and she was always a responsible and involved mother. Well, there was
that one time she forgot baby Stuart and the family dog at the store.
She only realized they were missing once she got home and looked around
for the DOG. She writes: "I believe I was a good mum, but never a doting one." (She got the kid and dog back.)
About now, sanctimommies might be gearing up to inflict all manner of torture on Isabella, but look at what she does rather than what she says. Isabella is such a good mother that her adult daughter, who has multiple sclerosis, lives with her full time and always will.
If you set aside your judgments, you can see that Isabella's essay makes a great point: A good mother doesn't necessarily have to be one who wanted kids
with every fiber of her being. In fact, there are plenty of mothers who
had intense baby fever but who make lousy mothers. Just because you
want something really, really badly doesn't make you good at it. (If only I had a dime for all of the people who told me they really, really wanted to be a writer but who never write anything other than their grocery list -- and even manage to misspell that.)
I am a conscientious and caring parent -- yet perhaps I would have resented my children less had I not been.
If you talk to women, really talk to them,
you hear a lot of what Isabella is saying. Ask any woman, in private,
if she is glad she had kids, and there's often a long hesitation, a
disclaimer ("I love them, of course") and out comes and the wishy-washy
answer: Life would have been easier ... Sometimes I wish I hadn't
... Well, there's nothing I can do about it now ... I wonder about that
all the time ... etc. (I'm always surprised at the amount of women -- and even men -- who complain incessantly about parenthood but then choose to have another baby.)
So Isabella isn't saying anything new. Not every woman has baby fever in her bones. But for eons those women have had kids anyway. And most still manage to do a good job of it. In fact, maybe not being obsessed with her children made Isabella a better mother. She let them be their own individuals instead of trying to make them extensions of herself. She didn't helicopter over them and insist on fighting all their battles. And she and her children are still incredibly close today.
Now if only she'd stop telling them how much she regrets having them. Nothing she can do about it now!
Have you always wanted to have children?