It’s all in your attitude
I’m not made to be a mum. I know it is a little late to come to this conclusion, but just hear me out.
Over the past few months, a vast number of ‘‘mum regret’’ articles seem to have swept beneath my (tired mum) eyes. There was the woman just this week with a child the same age as mine who wrote that childcare is mindnumbingly boring.
Last month, there was an article on three women who ‘‘just want to go back to being me’’.
Before that, there was an article on ‘‘parent regret’’ and in between there were plenty of articles about how nonparent couples are happier. Underlying them all was the basic idea that having kids is hard; so hard, that it might not be worth it. These articles weren’t talking about post-natal depression or psychosis. They were talking about pure simple regret.
The symptoms, by the way, of parenting regret seemed to boil down to endless fantasies about your pre-child life, extreme irritation at childish games and conversation, revulsion at your restricted social life or resentment at the unrestricted amounts of housework.
It is a list that makes me a prime candidate for mum regret and I must therefore conclude, as did the people in the articles, that I am not made to be a mum.
But, then, I don’t think any woman is. That is because every mum I have ever spoken to has fit that list at one time or another. The only difference that I can see is in attitude.
I know that is almost blasphemy in this day and age. After all, my generation was forged from the heady idea that a human’s highest end is happiness. Anything that gets in our way is not worth the trouble.
Unfortunately, we missed the memo about happiness sometimes being hard work. It can sometimes involve discipline, repetition and playing the long game. It can sometimes involve grim determination.
When hard happiness is unavoidable, the only thing for it is to change our attitude. We can sit brooding over an old life like an out-of-date athlete, or we can count the very real blessings in front of us and find new delights.
Nowhere is that more obvious than when it comes to parenting regret. Once we have had a child, there is no going back – it doesn’t matter how much we regret it.
That means the only option available to us is which attitude we will choose. Will we choose to fill our minds with endless lists of reasons why life is less pleasant now? Or will we choose to fill our minds with the moments of delight, of laughter, and of happiness sprinkled however sporadically across the day?
There are hints of this reality hidden in every article about parenting regret, by the way. There is, for instance, the mum who says she only overcame her feelings of regret by focusing hard each day, for a very long time, on hugging her daughter in order to increase the bond between them.
Then there is the admission from the woman who finds mothering boring that she doesn’t do anything interesting. She simply plays with cars, or listens to kiddie music, or talks mothering with other mums.
And there are, of course, the endlessly repeated phrases like, ‘‘nobody warned us it would be like this’’ – as if that matters now.
Yes, parenting can be hard, parenting can be boring, and parenting can difficult.
But it can also be hilarious, it can fulfilling and it can be pure joy.
The choice is up to us.
Parenting can be hard, but it can also be hilarious.