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 We can sit brood­ing over an old life like an out-of-date ath­lete, or we can count the very real bless­ings in front of us and find new de­lights.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.

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