As rewarding as parenting can be, sometimes it can prove overwhelming or unduly intense. The families of Reddit opened up about the mum and dad realities they least like, and some of it will have you feeling a bit teary and possibly saying “same”.
“Do you ever have moments of regret?”
A long discussion unfolded about how difficult some days (years!) can be – and how some people found parenthood was not a natural fit.
And honestly? As tough as some of this is to read or admit to ourselves, it’s so important that we shine a light on the more complicated feelings parenting can arouse. It’s not always peachy and knowing other parents might be struggling with their responsibilities can make many of us feel less alone.
Perhaps not everyone has regrets about becoming a parent, but there are almost always some harrowing challenges along the way and it’s important that parents can feel supported – rather than shamed – as they navigate them.
“I lost myself to motherhood”
“Do you ever have moments of regret?” was the question, and lots of parents said they did.
“My daughter is my entire world and I love her with everything that I am but yes, I still have regrets about giving birth to her,” one mum revealed. “My life 100 percent different than before and it hasn’t been an easy adjustment. She is almost 3 and I’m just now starting to see slivers of my old self again. I lost myself to motherhood and breastfeeding which is beautiful in its own right, but once again, still not easy.”
Read more about parenting:
- Mummy guilt is no joke: Why it’s time to let go of ‘perfect’
- Tokophobia: What it’s like to have a phobia of pregnancy and childbirth
- A symptom of postpartum depression that isn’t talked about
“I was unprepared”
For some parents, the glossy ideal of family life often portrayed in the media and the lack of honest chatter about what being a mum or dad is really like left them feeling complexity blindsided when they had kids of their own.
“I didn’t realize how much I would struggle with parenting,” another mum wrote. “And my spouse is not as helpful as I thought he would be with parenting. I love children. (And I love my children.) I worked as a babysitter, nanny, au pair, teacher. I love being around children and feel I have a gift. However, I really wish I knew myself better before deciding to be a parent. I didn’t grow up hearing parents (women in particular) discussing the realities of parenting so I was unprepared for the anxiety, stress, and challenges associated with responsibly caring for another human being (often with very little support).”
“I have mourned my past life”
Some pined for simpler days missing quieter households and the freedom they once had.
“I love my babies,” one parent wrote “but life was easier when I only had one. I had two more.”
“I don’t think you would be human if you didn’t have moments of regret,” a mum posted. “Having children is such a massive life change, there are days which just suck even with the best kids. I love my daughter with all my heart and miss her when she spends a night away. There have definitely been moments where I have mourned my past life despite loving my current life.”
Some parents said they didn’t have regrets, but they most certainly felt stretched thin and like they weren’t keeping all the balls in the air.
“I don’t regret it, but there are times they completely wear me out,” one mum wrote. “I don’t not regret it because I’m a perfect mom or something, I just don’t really tend to regret things. It’s pointless to regret something you can’t change, kids or otherwise. Do I ever feel overwhelmed? Yep. Lonely? Sometimes. Like a bad mom? Yeah. At the end of the day, I’m usually pretty tired. I’ve answered 5 million questions, had my boobs sucked dry, desperately seeking peace and quiet…But I still miss my kids once they’re in bed.
Support don’t shame
And while some might say “you’re lucky to have children at all, some people can’t” or “first world problem” or “don’t have them if you’re not prepared to look after them” that’s utterly lacking in compassion and counterproductive. These regrets form part of the picture for these parents and they deserve support and kindness, not judgement and shaming.
This sort of discussion really highlights the fact that there are lots of great parents feeling bewildered, overwhelmed, exhausted and alone. The sooner we find ways to connect to and support those mums and dads, the better.
If you – or someone you know – are expecting a baby or have recently become a parent, and are finding things super-tough, please get in touch with your GP or the good folk at PANDA. They’re on standby, ready to support mums and dads through difficult times.