Sunday, 12 February 2017

No regrets, coyote!

In the Guardian Weekend magazine yesterday there was an article about women who regretted having had children. Almost all of them had actively wanted children before giving birth and then changed their minds. It didn't seem to be a case of women who had had children because of social pressure. One had so much wanted children that she had had IVF treatment when she failed to conceive naturally. So it wasn't just a case of conforming to an expected, conventional woman's role.

It was more a case of making the discovery after the event, rather as you might find that your dream job did ot live up to expectations. One of them decided just after giving birth that motherhood was not really her thing. Others came to the realisation more slowly. They all professed to love their children dearly. If this was a form of post natal depression, it did not seem to be recognised as such. The women had all functioned fine as mothers and got on with their lives but felt a sort of general dissatisfaction and thought that their loves would have been better without children.

They also had a strong belief that women who say that they enjoy or have enjoyed having children are either telling lies or deluding themselves. Do they really think that or are they finding an excuse to cover up a slight feeling of guilt? Who knows?

But at least the women interviewed don't appear to have neglected their children, just occasionally resented their being there.

I thought at first that it might be a modern malaise: high-achieving young women who need to prove and prove that they can do everything and tick all the boxes and then discover that this one is harder to complete. But it was not the case; some of them had grown-up daughters with whom they had discussed the problem over the years.

It's interesting to think about what people might regret in life. In the final analysis, of course, you can't go back and undo the things you regret having done.

I wonder how many people feel more regret for things they have NOT done rather than what they have.

Personally I can think of any number of occasions when I failed to think of the smart answer until after a conversation was over.

And I regret not having answered letters and thus losing contact with old friends.

But I never regretted having my children. I just adapted my life to them and, importantly, them to my life. I listened this morning to June Brown, the actress probably now best known for playing Dot Cotton in Eastenders, on Desert Island Discs. She will be ninety this week and managed to fit six children around her acting career - she used to take her babies with her and park the pram in the dressing room during rehearsals - and her career around six children. She didn't appear to regret having had those children.

Mind you, Kirsty Young didn't actually pose that question!

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