I need to tell you something that I’m ashamed to say out loud. Something that’s burdened me for some time now because I don’t quite know how to admit or explain it. But here it is, finally: Sometimes, I regret having a child.
Recently, media stories about moms who actively regret having kids have been circulating over and over on the internet. My feelings aren’t quite as extreme, but when I read about these regrets, I relate more than I want to.
Feeling this way seems absurd seeing as lesbian couples have to go out of their way to have a child; for us, it’s obviously not an organic process. Extra steps were involved, like buying sperm, shipping it across the country, going to a fertility clinic, and trying several times before it took.
It’s accurate to say that Elliot was a very wanted baby; and when he came, he was of course perfect. But I’m not just saying that, because he really was, and is.
At 2.5 months, he slept through the night, he drank his milk at whatever temperature and rarely fussed. Now as a toddler, he’s sweet, affectionate and wants to cuddle in the recliner every night before bed.
Poor kid: he doesn’t even mind being dragged all over the place—my wife and I take him everywhere, and he’s so easy-going about it, so adaptable and angst-free (must be the goyish sperm donor’s genes, we joke). Listening to friends talk about their kids, I’m embarrassed about how easy I have it.
Plus, look at his punim. The light dancing in his saucer eyes, dark like chocolate. Cherubic lips, cheeks you could kiss all day, and beautiful red hair that looks like candy in the sun. He’s delicious and to die for.
Sometimes, when he’s needing something from me, waiting for me, seeing how I’m going to react, my eyes fill with tears. At those moments, I feel sorry for him because he deserves a better mother; one who’s not ambivalent about being a mother, and one who feels deeply fulfilled by all of it. He especially deserves a parent who doesn’t need to medicate to be fun and to play “airplane” and other toddler games, because she otherwise finds it too damn boring.
I’m bad at this. I don’t enjoy this. And moreover, when the negativity overwhelms me, I feel like I just slapped God’s blessing in the face with my ingratitude, and failure to recognize that I’ve truly been given the greatest gift.
The worst is when I lie about it. The other day when I Skyped with my best friend in Germany, I told her that “he’s the gift of my life;” or “das Geschenk meines Lebens.” On an intellectual level, I mean it, 100 percent—but the moments I feel it are inappropriately fleeting, at least in my opinion.
“But stop,” you’re probably thinking as you read this. “You’re just overwhelmed. Every working mom is overwhelmed, Joanne.”
And it’s true—I am. And I am doing my best. And I would lie in front of traffic for him. And when gets upset, cries and those big chocolate saucers look to me for comfort, I’m there with all of my heart, ready to give him anything and everything of me.
It’s the day-to-day that gets me down, like it does for so many moms. The baths, the bedtime, the constantly-running dishwasher, the cleanup, the car seat ordeal, the getting dressed ordeal, explaining that the dog doesn’t know how to play the toy guitar, and that you can’t brush your teeth with bathwater. It’s walking up the stairs carrying 27 pounds of a squirming body, fetching this and fetching that, and “No, I don’t know where your paci is.”
But if it were suddenly all gone? If suddenly he were ever to be taken from me? I don’t think I could go on living.