One of the most heartbreaking things that ever happened to me was hearing the honest truth about parenting from one of my dearest friends.
She broke down to me one night and confessed that she wished she never had her six-year-old daughter. It wasn't that she didn't love that bundle of joy, it was that she didn't like who she was when she was around her. Her pregnancy was an accident, and her then-husband encouraged her to keep the child.
"She deserves someone better than me," she said, while tears streamed down her face. For the first time I noticed that she had bags under her eyes and her skin was blotchy. I have known her for more than a decade and never noticed that about her.
I was completely shocked. I've never put much thought into having kids, but I never shot it down. For me, parenthood was something sacred. It was a special bond between a parent and their own flesh and blood. It was impossible to regret your children, right? It was something my wonderful mother reminded me all the time.
That being said, I do remember coming across articles that wrote about how the joy of parenting is all a farce.
For instance, researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada, said, "The motivation to rationalize the costs of parenting apparently not only increases parents’s idealization of parenthood, but also leads them to believe that spending time with their children is more rewarding than other activities. This belief then motivates parents to want to spend more time with their children."
As my candid conversation with my friend came to a close, she brought to my attention a Facebook group called "I Regret Having Children." She told me she anonymously posted about how she's felt depressed ever since she had her daughter, and all the things she regrets about motherhood.
When she left, I found that page, and the dozens of anonymous posts I read shook me to the core.
The public Facebook page, founded in 2009, has almost 10,000 followers and hundreds of anonymous posts by parents, mostly mothers, sharing their personal truths on parenthood.
"This page is here to let all the mothers and fathers know that regretting having a kid(s) is not abnormal and shouldn't be a taboo subject," the administrators wrote in their bio. They emphasize that no one should be shamed for feeling the way they do about their own children.
Like my friend, some women feel like parenthood is being forced on them, and they're not sure what the right decision is in the long run.
The woman in the post below is almost 30 years old, and unsure if she and her boyfriend should have a child. She's worried that if she tells him that she doesn't have a "motherly bone" in her body and refuses to get pregnant that they'll have to break up.
One mother wrote that she loves her three-year-old daughter, but struggles to raise her. After being abused by her child's father and leaving him, she's been suffering from depression and second-guessing becoming a mother.
Another mother expressed she didn't feel like she regret her kids until they grew up: "I spent all my money, my energy, my youth to make them happy and I feel I have strangers around me."
After spending hours reading all sorts of posts on this Facebook page, my heart broke for these families.
Societies place a huge stigma on men and women who choose to not have children, and then place an even bigger stigma on those who regret having them.
I think what I learned is that we shouldn't judge each other, but to lift each other up during times of upheaval.