Confession: I Was A Reluctant Mother

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upset mother son jumping on couch
This reluctant mother found that motherhood was exactly what she needed.

Other women had it. Even my husband had it: the desire to spawn. Yup. It's true: my husband wanted kids more than I did. Wanted them in the way it seemed other (normal?) women did, with a longing, a yearning, a confidence that parenthood was vital to adult life. Me? I figured we'd have a pretty good life either with children or without.

Then, I experienced three years of infertility, which made getting pregnant its own goal. I wanted it to work, which of course isn't the same as wanting to be a mother.

Still, a husband's heart's desire is something strong. So, eventually, we had a baby.

Fatherhood enraptured Frank. Nothing threw him: not colic, reflux and regurgitation, or even the heart murmur scare. For me, though, something was very wrong, and 18 months of severe postpartum depression confirmed it—motherhood was for other people.

As I recovered, however, a curious thing happened: I found that I was good at this mothering business. I had another baby and, the more I experimented, the more I liked the fit. Still, while my kids now delight me in endless ways, motherhood fairly often sucks. Many days, I hate it. I hate knowing that mistakes I make now may mar two terrific people for decades. I hate homework hassles. I hate parts of puberty, and I hate the price of everything.

But my previous meltdowns—about missed career opportunities and that age-old saw of unbalanced, gender-based expectations—now feel entitled. Husband, if you wanted these children more than I, why am I doing more than you? I never said those words, but I was thinking them. And once, Frank answered my frustrated tears with, "Maybe I shouldn't have pushed you into having kids."

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