12 Women Discuss Whether They Regret Their Decisions Around Motherhood

Photographed by Ashley Batz.
"Becoming a mother scares me," wrote a Reddit user in the AskWomen subreddit. "I'm afraid of losing myself, of the commitment, and the toll it will take on my relationship," she continued. "But I'm also afraid of regretting a decision to never have children when I'm older."
She asked her fellow users to share how they feel about their choices, whether they became mothers or not. Did their children keep them from living the life they wanted? Do they regret deciding to be child-free?
For those who are on the fence about having kids, these concerns are very common (and so is the need to crowdsource). The redditor ended her post with one request: "Please tell me your stories honestly." Her readers complied, and then some.
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Mothers and child-free women alike responded, sharing their personal experiences with total openness. If there's one thing that all respondents had in common, it's that none of them answered with a simple "yes" or "no." Ahead, we've rounded up some of the most eye-opening responses. These truly embody the idea that the first question about motherhood isn't "when" — it's "if."
Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about or passing on kids, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.
1 of 12

I regret that I did not have an abortion.

"I regret that I did not have an abortion. It ruined my life. I am looking forward to when he is 18 and I can wash my hands of being an active parent. It held me back, drained me of my youth, money, and many accomplishments I could have had. For what? Because society filled my head with lies about 'biological clock' and all of that? Get a dog and a nice house."

-Reddit user ViolaViolenta
2 of 12

You will lose yourself, at least for a while.

"I love my kids very much but raising children is an all encompassing venture. You will lose yourself, at least for a while, it will take a toll on your marriage on some level, it's a huge commitment. The only reason to plan for children is because you want children. There have been many days I wished that I had taken another path, but that's magical thinking. Do not have children unless you really, really want children. And don't feel guilty about not wanting children. It doesn't make you a bad, selfish, or lesser person."

-Reddit user maybesomeday2
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3 of 12

It can be done.

"[I'm a] SAHM mom in my late 20s. No regrets at all. I'm still active and have my own life. It can be done, Reddit, don't let anyone tell you it cannot. Having a helpful partner is the key."

-Reddit user DaughtersandDoggies
4 of 12

Things I don't regret: Having an abortion.

"Things I don't regret: Having an abortion. Choosing never to produce children. Marrying my husband who already had 5 kids. I got the best of both worlds, really, because I never wanted to be pregnant or deal with infants. The youngest was 7 years old when I met my husband. I helped him raise his, and we agreed that we were never going to add any more to the family. Now I get all the fun and perks of being a grandma, which is so enjoyable. And I adore my life."

-Reddit user Lucky_leprechaun
5 of 12

My tiny person is one of my favorite people.

"Only have kids if you really want that relationship. The first year is the most grueling work I've ever done. It's awful. Now it's fantastic and my tiny person is one of my favorite people. I've actually done some really cool, unexpected stuff with my career. It made my husband and I work together and know each other in new ways. It will only rob you of your identity if you let it."

-Account has been deleted
6 of 12

All of my friends had kids because they didn't even realize they had the option of not having one.

"I have never wanted kids and never will have kids. All of my friends who have children do love their kids but at the same time really regret having them. They all say the same thing: it drains the shit out of you and you can't really have a life anymore, not a life of your own anyway. Everything is about the kid. One of my friends has a 12-year-old and she told me just the other day, 'People who say it gets easier as they grow older are full of shit. It doesn't get easier. It's just a different kind of hard.'

"Pretty much all of my friends had kids because they didn't even realize they had the option of not having one. To them, it was just something they were supposed to do eventually — you grow up, get married, have kids. Really glad I never listened to all the people who urged me to have kids because 'they would give my life meaning' or whatever."

-Account has been deleted
7 of 12

Sometimes there are tears, but we're moving forward.

"I am in my 40s without kids, but I'm also newly married for the first time. Kids without a husband was never an option for me, and the older I got, the less they became an option period. My husband very much wants them, but he's younger than me and is only just now beginning to understand what it would be like for us to chase around kids at our ages. Had I met him 10 years ago, without a doubt: children. But now, we plan to travel and live abroad and do the things we couldn't do with kids, at least easily. It's hard and sometimes there are tears, but we're moving forward and we'll be just fine."

-Reddit user BlueberryQuick
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8 of 12

There is a reason I only have one.

"I had my son when I was 18 years old. I was dumb and in love wanted to start a family. I love my son. But it was hard and I was so young that I didn't know myself at all. Now that I am almost 40 and he is 20 I am finally able to do things for me. Where I live is no longer determined by good schools and doctors. I don't have to live near his dad anymore so we can switch weekends (shocker that we didn't stay together). I don't have to take crap jobs to make ends meet because now my budget doesn't include school clothes and supplies. I can travel when I want, read what I want, sleep in. He is an adult and now I finally get to be me.

"I don't regret my son, but there is a reason I only have one. To be honest, kids suck sometimes. They crush your soul and your spirit. Like another poster said, you can love your kids but not like being a parent. It is true. I hated parent teacher conferences, stupid kindergarten plays, 5th grade graduation, colds, fevers, boo boos, buying Christmas presents, making dinners (dang kids need to eat every day, more than once). Being a parent is about raising them for 18 years. Your life is pretty much put on hold so they get everything they need. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to be a parent. Don't let anyone tell you differently."

-Reddit user HiddenTurtles
9 of 12

Every parent regrets having kids about 50 times a day.

"Every parent regrets having kids about 50 times a day. When you're cleaning the mysterious sticky off of the kitchen cabinets, and when you get the early wake-up call, and when you have to be on teeth-brushing duty instead of watching Game of Thrones. Honestly I'm kind of ambivalent. I thought for a long time before her that I would maybe never have kids. Never had the desire. Then the desire hit and we were pregnant that following month.

"I'd be happy with no kids. I'm down with quiet time, and money, and traveling. And I'm happy with her. I love her, and she's amazing. And it's a special kind of wonder to experience the world through your kid's eyes. The first two months after birth (where I went nearly insane from lack of sleep) were bad enough that I will never have another child. Ever.

"If I didn't have family that could watch her over some weekends and for my husband and I to go on vacation alone every year would most surely make me regret having kids and make me feel like I had lost my identity. Alone time is very important for the self and the marriage."

-Reddit user catawampushalo
10 of 12

It gets better and more rewarding.

"When I had my daughter, my husband and I had a joke — we would say, 'I think I've made a huge mistake.' (Any Arrested Development watchers out there?) Anyways — it was a complete shock. I really mourned my 'old life.' I did genuinely think — 'Why did I do this?' The first three months are basically inhumane torture. You are completely sleep deprived and breastfeeding is physically very taxing. After month four it gets better and more rewarding every day. I went skipping back to work — being at my desk is easier than being with the baby. Honestly it's really really hard having a kid, but if you do it, like with anything, you will get through it. Not covered in this post: how incredibly rewarding it is. Seriously, a tiny baby version of yourself! Think about it."

-Reddit user ingersja
11 of 12

I'm not dead yet.

"I'm in my 40s and I have two children. I don't regret having them. Raising children is not always easy. Sometimes it's incredibly frustrating and makes you want to just hide in the closet with a bottle of wine. Other times, it's amazing and you think it's not possible to feel so proud or to feel so much love without your heart exploding. I'm very happy to have brought my boys into the world. They are wonderful, kind people who I am proud to know.

"Sure, there are times when I think about what my life might have been like if I hadn't had children. I gave up a career path and made a lot of adjustments to what I wanted from life. But then I just remind myself that I'm not dead yet. My kids are 21 and 15 (16 next month). Soon, I'll be done with the daily parenting issues and will have a lot of active years to more fully pursue my interests/hobbies/etc."

-Reddit user southernbelladonna
12 of 12

I don't regret having one kid, but would regret having any more.

"Having a baby [at] eighteen taught me that there is more to life than just raising kids. I don't regret being a mom at all. I always planned to have kids someday so I would have done it regardless. However, I always pictured myself with three kids. Then I had my daughter and realized how time consuming it actually is. I feel like I can't accomplish anything big for myself until my daughter is older, because right now most of my attention is focused on her. I am happy to do the mommy thing once. She is cute and funny and loving. But I would like to do other things someday do. Travel, get a degree, a career, idk. So no, I don't regret having one kid, but would regret having any more."

-Reddit user meeeghanp7
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