I was 22 when I had Stuart, who was a placid and biddable baby. So, no, my feelings were not sparked by tiredness, nor by post-natal depression or even a passing spell of baby blues. Quite simply, I had always hated the idea of motherhood. In that instant, any lingering hope that becoming a mum would cure me of my antipathy was dispelled. I remember asking myself, ‘Is he really mine?’ He could, quite literally, have been anyone’s baby. Had a kind stranger offered to adopt him at that moment, I would not have objected. Still, I wished no harm on Stuart and invested every ounce of my energy in caring for him. Even so, I know my life would have been much happier and more fulfilled without children. Two years and four months after Stuart was born, I had my daughter Jo. It may seem perverse that I had a second child in view of my aversion to them, but I believe it is utterly selfish to have an only one.
I felt precisely the same indifference towards her as I had to Stuart, but I knew I would care for Jo to the best of my ability, and love her as I’d grown to love him.
Yet I dreaded her dependence; resented the time she would consume, and that like parasites, both my children would continue to take from me and give nothing meaningful back in return.
Whenever I’ve told friends I wished I’d never had them, they’ve gasped with shock. ‘You can’t mean that?’ But, of course, I do.
What I valued most in my life was time on my own; to reflect, read and enjoy my own company and peace of mind. And suddenly that peace and solitude wasn’t there any more. There were two small interlopers intruding on it. And I’ve never got that peace back.
I don’t know why I feel as I do.
I know there are millions who will consider me heinously cold-blooded and unnatural, but I believe there will also be those who secretly feel the same.
It’s just that I have been honest – some may contend brutally so – and admitted to my true feelings. In doing so I have broken a supposedly inviolable law of nature. What kind of mother, after all, wishes she hadn’t had children?
‘I resented the time my children consumed. Like parasites, they took from me and didn’t give back’
I cannot understand mothers who insist they want children – especially those who undergo years of fertility treatment – then race back to work at the earliest opportunity after giving birth, leaving the vital job of caring for them to strangers.
Why have them at all if you don’t want to bring them up, or can’t afford to? And why pretend you wanted them if you have no intention of raising them? This hypocrisy is, in my view, far more pernicious and difficult to fathom than my own admission that my life would have been better without children.
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