People ask me a lot why I don’t dress my babies in matching outfits and the simple answer is: Because I don’t want to.
Ok, Ok, perhaps the simple version is a bit too snarky so allow me to explain.
It seems pretty common to dress twins, or even just siblings, in matching outfits. My Instagram feed is full of them and I’ll admit it’s super cute. But, it’s not my absolute favourite sibling clothing aesthetic. I’m actually a huge fan of the look that’s more like, “this kind of could go together, but not quite.” One twin in stripes and the other in florals, with a similar colour palette? Yes, please. 😍
Personally I use my twins clothing as one of the ways I tell them apart. Since they were born, I’ve discovered a lot of little ways to tell who is who, but it doesn’t always work so well when looking back at photos. Different outfits helps jog my memory, and helps me easily tell other people which twin is in each picture.
I’m trying to foster a sense of individuality in any tiny way I can right from the beginning. Right now they share everything, it’s simply not practical to do otherwise, and I know throughout life they’ll get mistaken for each other and lumped together constantly because their faces and birthdays match. So in any small way that I’m able to say, “These are 2 separate, individual people.” I’m going to express that.
And the final, perhaps the biggest reason is that it gets expensive buying two matching copies of everything and honestly, for me that’s kind of a waste of money. I’d rather buy coordinated sets that come in bundles, look cute together but don’t exactly match, and end up with more unique pieces than a closet full of duplicate outfits.
I’m not against matching outfits by any stretch of the imagination. The girls have some duplicate outfits I’ve bought that I’m excited to dress them in (though my instincts are already thinking of ways to make each unique instead of exactly the same.) And we’ve had some gifted to us that I’m just dying to see them wear. I Ooh and Aah over twins dressed alike as much as the next person.
I’m just not going out of my way to buy my twins an entirely matching wardrobe.
One month down.
I don’t believe I ever officially announced that the babies were born here on this blog. New mom-brain. And epic fail to not even announce your babies on a mom blog.
A little over a month ago, my twin baby girls were born. They came early, at 34 weeks+2 days, and spent 2 weeks in the NICU after the fact. I’m working on writing their birth story at the moment…kind of.
Now they’re home, and I’m learning to adjust to having 2 tiny, demanding, helpless humans. To say my hands are full would be an understatement. Working on much of anything has taken a backward but hopefully that will improve over time.
Over the last month I’ve really struggled with how much harder having 2 at a time is compared to just 1. Everything has been a struggle as I learn to feed, carry, and change 2 at once. It’s definitely been a juggling act, and much harder than I expected.
Oh but they are so cute though and the calm moments when we cuddle happily are the moments I live for.
It’s so amazing learning their personalities and getting to know them. I was so worried about getting them mixed up – I even left their hospital bracelets on for weeks as a way to tell them apart – but I’ve discovered enough subtle differences to tell them apart now which helps a lot.
I also write on Medium, I recently posted about how much I am hating breastfeeding lately. I also posted about how much I struggled while my babies were in the NICU, as well as a story about how much more difficult I found it being pregnant in my late 30s vs my early 20s.
I’m going to just end this post here, as I’m pretty sure I have diapers to change and babies to feed. Drop me a comment with your best piece of advice for raising twins!
This blog has been a little quiet lately as I’ve been focusing on other projects as well as growing these babies. So I thought rather than posting about any specific topic, I’d just post a quick update here as well as maybe link to some of the things I’ve been working on lately.
The twins are doing pretty good. They’re definitely coming earlier than expected, which has been a weird emotional rollercoaster for me.
I’m excited to meet them but obviously worried that being born too early could be bad for them.
Currently I’m exactly 34 weeks pregnant and while I won’t say precisely when they will be joining us I’ll say it is soon. (The main reason for early delivery has to do with blood flow issues that indicate that the placenta isn’t doing the work that it needs to be doing to keep them both healthy inside my body much longer.)
So at the moment I’m just staying positive, getting prepared, and trusting in the doctors who are tasked with helping us welcome these little ones into the world.
Physically, I’m incredibly uncomfortable and in that weird limbo state of feeling “done” while also feeling “not ready yet.”
We’ve been so absolutely spoiled by friends and family members lately, and it’s been so appreciated. These are some of my favourite things we’ve either received or purchased ourselves over the last few months that I’m really excited about (click the picture to view on purchase on Amazon – these are affiliate links which means I will possibly earn a small commission if you purchase through them, but you are in no way obligated to)
My daughter took some maternity pictures for me recently. I wanted some nice ones before this pregnancy was done, and she was sweet enough to offer to help. I love how they turned out, even though I picked a bad time of day to get them done and the sun kind of made things difficult, but I’m happy with them.
I started uploading videos on Youtube about a year or so ago, for no real reason other than I wanted to learn how the platform works and I thought it would be an interesting challenge to learn how to edit videos.
In recent months I’ve been uploading videos specifically about my pregnancy, you can find the most recent one below. I’ve also posted a few general pregnancy updates you can see if you go visit my channel (if you have a Youtube channel as well, please leave me the link and I’ll come subscribe to you!)
Follow me around on various other platforms if you’d like!
I hope if you’re reading this you’re doing well, if you’re expecting a baby any time over the next 9 months or so let me know how far along you are and how you’re feeling.
Stay safe and I’ll be back with another new post soon hopefully!
I met a woman at the grocery store recently and we struck up a conversation. She was enjoying a rare solo shopping trip since she has twins at home, I was shopping with my teenager while rather pregnant with twins of my own and we got to chatting a little. She was friendly, funny, gave me some tips on a few things twin related, then we parted ways. My daughter commented that she seemed nice but, “You didn’t ask for her phone number though!”
Do people…do that?
And a follow up question, if not by exchanging numbers with random nice ladies you meet, how the heck do people make new friends as a mom? Or like…at all?
I genuinely do not understand how grown ups make friends.
When I first got pregnant with my daughter, 14 long years ago, I had very few friends who were also at that stage just yet. As a result I definitely drifted away from a lot of the friends I did have, as our lives were just too different. I couldn’t go out every night or make plans at the last minute, and they stopped inviting me along eventually (understandably) as it became clear that it was pointless because I’d just say no or have to cancel at the last minute anyways. Or go home early. Or we just had very little to talk about anymore as my days revolved around diaper changes and the Backyardigans and theirs, well…didn’t.
Some friendships became stronger, and I had the privilege of experiencing first hand how amazing it is when your friends love your kids, like truly love your kids. My daughter acquired a few Bonus Aunts and Uncles along the way. But many friendships faded away until the people were nothing more than acquaintances.
Eventually many of my friends “caught up” (for lack of a better way to put it) and had kids of their own. In some cases this brought us closer again due to the shared understanding of being parents, but at the same time it often didn’t work out that way since our children were so far apart in age, the idea of getting together so the kids can play didn’t always make a lot of sense. More times than I can count we were invited to a “Bring the kids! They can all play!” gathering only to arrive and be surrounded by toddlers while mine was in grade school. Not that I’m complaining about being included of course, my point is just that the age discrepancy was glaringly obvious and often left me with that feeling like, “We still don’t really belong here.”
Most of the friends I’ve made over the years have absolutely nothing to do with motherhood. Most of them I met through work, some I met through mutual friends. Often when I meet women who are also mothers I quickly find we have nothing in common when it actually comes to the parenting part of life and that itself is enough of a reason for us not to become friends. Sometimes I meet the mother’s of my daughter’s friends and they seem nice enough. We can communicate civilly and make arrangements when our kids want to hang out, but it’s not like we’re meeting up for dinner or drinks or texting on a regular basis. (Despite the fact that every single time, my daughter insists we are going to be best friends.)
Part of the problem with making friends as an adult, especially when you’re a parent, is that there is no time to cultivate new friendships. I’m sorry but all I can offer you is a “We should get together soon!” text every once in awhile, followed by nothing because we don’t actually have time to get together. I’m lucky that the existing friends I do have are all basically on the same page at this point and never seem to get offended but it definitely means that a lot of time passes before I actually see many of the people I genuinely consider friends.
I know I’m not the only one in this boat because many of my very dear friends do the same. Life is just busy and carving out precious hours to meet up with a friend is difficult, even if we know we’ll end up having a great time and being thankful that we did it.
For me, especially now, it’s a little difficult because a few years ago I moved to a different province and I not only left all my friends behind, but I also haven’t made any kind of effort to make new friends since I’ve lived here. I have maybe 2 people in the general area who I consider friends (neither of them moms by the way) and one I haven’t seen in a couple years since we both left the job where we met, and the other I’ve never met up with even once the entire time I’ve lived here. It just never seems to happen, despite those “Oh we should…” talks that go nowhere.
Covid hasn’t helped things either of course, and for the last 2 years I could count on one hand the number of people I actually interacted with in person, for good reason obviously. But now I’m at the point where I don’t think I even know how to go about being social anymore. Carrying on normal conversations…what’s that like?
So all this is to say that making friends as an adult – especially if you have kids – is difficult. And I don’t know the secret, so if you figure it out, let me know.
I will probably be too busy or lazy to try it, but that’s ok. At least our conversation will count as social interaction for each of us.
Jokes aside, leave me a comment and let me know the best, most interesting, or most unconventional way you’ve made friends as an adult. I’m curious to know!
I took my first solo road trip with my daughter when she was only a year old. We drove from where we were living at the time – in the Okanagan Valley, B.C. – to visit a friend in Calgary, Alberta. Roughly a 10 hour drive in total depending on how frequently you need to stop – which is obviously often when travelling with a little one in diapers.
That first road trip on my own was such an empowering experience for me, especially as an at-the-time single mom who was fortunate enough to have very supportive, very involved parents who were an endless source of support for me but who occasionally – through no fault of their own – left me feeling like less of a mom because I needed help (but that’s another story for another blog post, although I would like to make it clear they never made me feel that way, it was other people’s comments that got under my skin. But again, another blog, another day.)
But that trip. I had no one to rely on. No back up. No safety net. It was just me, the kiddo, and the road. Ok and the car. And the diaper bag. And about a million other things packed into the car, you get my point though. It was an adventure for just the two of us, and by the end I felt more confident in my skills as a mother than ever before.
My mom and I used to road trip together a lot. My entire family has always been really into road trips actually. We drove nearly all the way across Canada – twice – first when we moved from B.C. to Ontario, and then back to B.C. a handful of years later. But again, another blog post for another day because this post is about those solo trips. Small 2 hour day trips here and there. To Vancouver and back for a weekend more times than I can count. When my daughter was born, she joined our little road tripping crew and the 3 of us continued our journey all over B.C. and occasionally over to Alberta. Sometimes we had reasons for our trips, such as the time I tracked down where my grandmother’s mother had been buried in Alberta so we drove there to visit my great grandmother’s grave. Or when we wanted to take a Girls Weekend drive to Victoria to visit Buchardt Gardens and the Butterfly Gardens for May long weekend, so we rented a van and drove out that way, falling in love with “Sidney by the Sea” along the way. Sometimes our road trips were just because we felt like going for a drive. On a few occasions we’d just pick a random direction and just head out, just because we wanted to explore.
We’d get snacks. We’d pack CDs (yes, CDs) and whether my mother liked it or not I’d sing to her the whole damn time. (She swears she likes it but I’ve heard myself so I think maybe she was just hearing me through the “I love it because I’m your mom” filter.) When I wasn’t singing, we were talking about every single topic under the sun. When I got old enough to drive we started sharing driving duty, something I’m looking forward to in a few short years when my own daughter learns to drive.
Leave me a comment and let me know either the best road trip you’ve ever taken, or the longest one. Or if you’d like, tell me your worst road trip experience ever! Mine is tied between when I got sunburnt in Vegas and had to endure a looooong drive back to BC in a car with a window that wouldn’t roll up, or the time I injured my neck on a rollercoaster in Edmonton and had to suffer through the 10+ hour drive back to the Okanagan, unable to get comfortable the entire time.
I follow a fair amount of mom groups and blogs and a common theme I see repeated a lot is that moms don’t get their needs met as often as they should. This is obviously a problem a lot of moms can relate to, if the frequency of which it’s brought up is any indication. So why are so many moms lacking the self care department? How can we fix that?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that at least part of the problem is that we’ve made it a habit to put ourselves last, take on too much, and be the go-to person to solve everyone’s problems. We’ve convinced ourselves that if we don’t do it, no one else will and as a result we’ve put ourselves and our needs on the very bottom of the pile. What’s worse, this has gone on for so long that breaking these habits seems impossible and some mothers (obviously not all) are almost comfortable in this “put myself last” dynamic. We’ve certainly normalized it, and that’s unfortunate.
So now let’s normalize undoing it.
It’s great for your mental and overall health, prevents burn out and is a great way to safeguard against developing feelings of resentment towards your spouse or your family in general. Plus it’s healthy for your kids to see you putting yourself first. The importance of self care should be fairly obvious when you look at the consequences of not getting enough, or any.
Figure out what self care means to you. It doesn’t have to be bubble baths, massages and getting your nails done. I mean, it can be if that’s your thing, but it’s not the only option. Self care can be going for a solo walk, or having uninterrupted reading time or time to watch your favourite show. It can be a night out or taking a class. Whatever the thing is that makes you feel recharged and reconnected to who you are as a person outside of being a mom, that’s something you should be trying to incorporate into your life on a regular basis.
Steal little pockets of time where available, get creative if you must. It can be tough to just find the time to indulge in any type of self care when life gets so busy, so sometimes you need to think outside the box to make it happen. If your kid plays a sport for example, that likely takes up a large chunk of your time. But what if you coordinate with one of the other moms to alternate taking each other’s kids to practice? It doesn’t really add anything to your plate to bring along an extra kid on your days to drive, and it gives you a chunk of time that’s now free on the days when the other mom is taking the kids. Now go do something just for you with that time.
Put other things on the backburner, and prioritize yourself. What is the worst that is going to happen if you sit and read for 20 minutes instead of sweeping? Can you let the kids put the laundry away so you can get a quick work out in? Sure they may not do it exactly the way you would, but does it matter? Really?
Let go and let others take some stuff off your plate. Trust that they can handle it. Resist the urge to micromanage.
Communicate your needs and be firm about them. It would be so nice if your family could read your mind and anticipate your needs, but they can’t. So be realistic and tell them what you need and how you’re going to ensure that need is met. Then hold firm on that. If 7-7:30 is your time to relax in the bath and the kids come knocking on the door asking for a snack: Nope. This is Mom Time. Go ask your dad or figure it out yourself.
Will it always work? No. But if it works even 5% of the time that’s still more than usual so that sounds like a win to me. Plus, it will very likely get easier over time. Think of it this way, it’s like building any other type of habit or skill. It takes practice and repetition.
It can also help if you try to make the self care activities you choose take place outside of the home so they don’t even have the option to disturb you. Call it hiding from your family if you must but sometimes it’s necessary to remove the temptation (that’s you) so they don’t just fall back on the easy solution for all their problems (again, that’s you.)
Find cheap or free alternatives. Sometimes we stop doing the things we enjoy because the expenses of family obligations take priority and anything for ourselves starts to look like an unnecessary indulgence. It’s why so many mom’s will update their kids’ wardrobes every season while they’re still wearing the same yoga pants they’ve had for 6 years.
Ideally, just breaking that way of thinking and learning to treat yourself sometimes would be nice. But until you get to that point, try exploring cheaper or even free options. If buying the newest hardcover novel you’ve been eyeing makes you cringe at the price tag, check your local library or see if there is a used book store or some type of book swap nearby. If getting massages, or getting your nails done is your thing but out of your price range, look for local training schools where you can often get fantastic service by someone learning their trade (guided by a professional in that field.)
Something is better than nothing, so start small if you have to. Making self care a priority is likely a difficult thing to do because you’re not used to it. So any small thing you can do can add up over time. The more you do it, the easier it will become. Your family may even start learning to anticipate some of your needs because you’ve made a point of showing them that they are a priority.
This one may prickle a few feathers but I’m saying it anyways because some of you need to hear it: Don’t make excuses and don’t be a martyr. You know what I mean.
“But I have to–“ No you don’t.
“Well I can’t–“ Yes you can.
Stop neglecting yourself on purpose just so you can complain about being neglected.
Now, I completely acknowledge that a lot of this can be trickier when you’re dealing with circumstances outside of some of the examples I’ve given. If you’re a single mom, that makes it difficult because you can’t exactly hand the kids off to a partner so you can sneak away. Depending on the age of your children, this is still a great opportunity to model that self care behavior. There’s no reason why you can’t have a conversation with your kids and explain to them how every person needs a little time to themselves to do something they enjoy so they can recharge and feel good, modifying the language as needed based on their age. You could ask your kids what activities they think are their own self care activities, and explain to them some of yours. Maybe discuss ways you can help each other practice self care. Start the conversation now so they’ll have a healthy attitude towards self care as they get older.
If you have very young children and a partner that absolutely refuses to help out or accommodate your needs in any way, well…I’m not at all qualified to tell you how to handle that but that might be a bigger issue that needs to be addressed in a more substantial way before it get’s even worse. I’m not saying end your relationship, but having a good serious talk about these things could be beneficial, as well as looking into counselling or other outside sources of support if it seems necessary.
What are your preferred forms of self care? Do you feel like you get enough of it in your life or are you usually putting your needs last to take care of everyone else? Leave me a comment and let me know.
Yeah, I said it. Motherhood is not a competitive sport.
Some mom’s seem to have not gotten that memo though. Myself included sometimes. I’m not immune to getting stuck in the trap of at the very least mentally competing with other mothers. Even though I’m aware it happens, it still seems to sneak up on me more than I’m comfortable with, and it’s a habit I’m actively trying to break.
So why are we like this? What makes us feel the need to compete with and try to outdo other moms? I’m sure there are very scientific reasons behind why this happens. Sociologists have probably written papers on this specific phenomenon and all the reasons it occurs. Are dads competitive like this? Are all people?
The thing with competition is, I don’t see anything wrong with it if it just drives you to do better and achieve more. Competition can be a great motivator. But when you’re constantly disrupting everyone else’s moment to shine so you can steal their thunder, it becomes a problem. A really annoying problem.
I have certain mothers in my life who for some reason can’t stand to listen to me say anything about my daughter without trying to one up it. My daughter gets all B’s and 2 A’s on her report card? Oh Lauren got all A’s! My daughter learns a new skill? Yeah Ella learned that 6 months ago. My daughter gets a new device or toy she had been asking for? Ava got that for Christmas and she doesn’t even play with it anymore!
Great. Good for little Laurellava, I’m genuinely happy for the kid but was it really necessary to mention that at this specific moment? I see what you’re doing.
Now, I get that sometimes people just do these things as a way to relate. They want to show that they understand or that they too are familiar with whatever the current topic is, and that’s perfectly understandable. But there’s also a lot of times when you can just tell, either because it happens all the time from this particular person, or because of the way they chime in, you can tell they’re really just trying to say, “My daughter/son did that first/better!”
Why? What is the point of this? Can’t you just say “congratulations” or “good job” or “how exciting!” and move on?
The other thing I always see is the “I’m more tired/my life is busier than yours!” game. You see this a lot from moms with more than one kid, mostly towards mothers of one, or heaven forbid no kids at all. Mother of One Amy might groan about how busy she is and Sally-Three-Kids can’t help but pipe up, “Oh girl! You have no idea! Try having THREE!”
With all due respect, shut up Sally.
Does anyone remember that meme that went around a few years ago with the woman with the letterboard sign saying that moms should get to cut to the front of the line at coffee shops because they were more tired than those who were child free?
Yeah, that kind of thing.
That woman got mostly ripped apart from what I recall, with responses ranging from offended (“Uhhh actually pretty sure DOCTORS and NURSES and FIREFIGHTERS, etc, understand tired more than you ever will!”) to straight up crass (“Yeah you’re not special just because you let someone c*m in you.”) a lot of people seemed really annoyed by her “I deserve special treatment because I’m a MOM!” sentiment, as harmless and tongue-in-cheek as she might have intended it at the time. I’m sure plenty of mom’s also found her post funny and relatable, and from time to time I do still see if get reposted by moms in various places but for the most part I just remember the irritated reactions.
Here’s the thing, motherhood is exhausting. Absolutely. There’s no denying that. Is it more exhausting than anyone else’s life? Not necessarily. So let’s not pretend that any of us deserve X amount of sympathy because of Y contributing factors, and just quit the competing. We’re all freaking tired.
So mothers (yes including myself, as I said I am guilty of this as well!) I’m issuing us all a challenge. If another mom brings up something she’s excited about, let’s try to refrain from responding in a way that tries to beat or one up her story. Let’s just respond positively and with encouragement. If someone says they’re tired, don’t scoff that they have no idea because blah blah blah. If someone brags about something they’ve accomplished that you did before, try to fight the urge to bring up your own accomplishment and just simply congratulate them instead.
You can brag later.
Right now in mid-August it’s hard to imagine Fall is right around the corner, but it definitely is and will be here before we know it. And though technically fashion isn’t my main focus here on Motherhood In Progress, nor something I’m particularly skilled at, it’s something that’s been on my mind a lot lately so in today’s blog that’s what we’re going to get into.
Fall can be a bit of a tricky time here in Alberta, Canada, because our Winters tend to hit pretty hard and fast so we might just get a couple short weeks of Fall-like weather before being hit with snow. I sometimes joke that we don’t actually get Spring or Fall here, just Early-Winter and Late-Winter. A couple of years ago we actually got our first snow fall in September which is still technically SUMMER sooo…yeah. Fall isn’t really a thing we get. BUT, I’m still an absolute sucker for Fall fashion and couldn’t resist doing a little daydreaming – and a LOT of shopping – and I figured I might as well make a blog post of some of the new finds that are making their way into my closet.
Fall fashion typically relies on layers. It can often be that awkward time of year when the day starts out chilly so you toss on a sweater but then by noon the sun is out, it feels like summer again and you’re regretting all your choices because you’re just too damn hot.
Now I’m not really great at keeping up with fashion trends. I never know what is in style, nor do I really care. For me, comfort is the main thing and one thing I love about Fall is that a lot of the clothing tends lean towards comfort and coziness and typically includes a lot of oversized fits and soft fabrics, which are two things I love.
I’m especially excited for the idea of fall fashion at the moment for two main reasons: 1) Cooler weather will be a relief after a hot summer, which I spent heavily pregnant, and 2) Since the twins are due in late October, then fall means it’ll be the first time in months I’ve been able to dress my body without it being actively inhabited by other people. (and yes, please don’t remind me about the difficulties of adjusting to a postpartum body or life with two new babies, I’m talking strictly about not carrying babies inside my body anymore at that point!)
(The links below are affiliate links which means if you use them to make a purchase I will receive a small commission that helps me keep this blog running – and hopefully make it better over time – you are in no way obligate to use these links but I do very much appreciate it when you do since it does help me out.)
(Click the photo to learn more and purchase!)
Oversized, chunky sweaters are a Fall must have. Weather you go for the knitted pullover style or prefer cardigans, you need big sweaters when the weather gets colder. Bonus if they have pockets. Because, pockets.
Flannel shirts seem to reemerge when the leaves start changing colours, and for good reason, they’re cute and can be dressed up and down in a variety of ways.
Skirts aren’t typically the first thing most people think of when thinking Fall fashion but I still tend to be drawn to them pretty frequently, it’s just the style of them seems to change a little. I tend to lean more towards typical Autumn colours and thicker fabrics, and I can’t seem to pass up a plaid skirt.
Leggings are just basically a year round staple for most of us these days but they’re especially necessary in Fall and personally I’m choosing to forget that any other pants (other than sweatpants) even exist, thankyouverymuch.
Colourful or patterned tights and or long socks are both great to have, especially if you are going to be wearing skirts. Bare legs are not the best choice when the weather starts dipping lower. Which is another great thing about Fall, less leg shaving!
Boots of all kinds can be considered Fall must haves. From short ankle boots to knee high styles, typically I try to avoid the ones with heels and look for something with good grip just in case we get those early snowfalls, and I almost always gravitate towards brown.
Scarves, though maybe more for the aesthetic than actual necessity. I mean, come on it’s not Winter yet (unless you live in Alberta, then it probably is!)
Because so much of Fall fashion relies of layering, pieces that don’t technically seem cold-weather appropriate can be amazing to wear underneath those chunkier items. Year round staple pieces like crop tops, tank tops and plain t-shirts are still necessary so you can have something underneath those chunky sweaters and cardigans when you get those occasional warm and sunny Fall days.
For further inspiration, check out my Fall Fashion Inspiration board on Pinterest!
So let me know what you think, what are some of your Fall Fashion staples?
The first time I heard of a woman admitting she regretted motherhood, I was horrified.
But time has passed since that initial first judgement, and I’ve spent some of that time reading more into this subject and I’ve come to think it’s a lot more common than one might think. It’s just complicated, manifesting in a multitude of different ways and forming for a variety of different reasons, and drowning in secrecy and shame.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I occasionally worried that I would regret becoming a mother. The pregnancy was unexpected and I didn’t feel anywhere near ready and I assumed that once she was born I’d miss my old life and wish I could return to my wild and free days. I’ll admit there were moments in the early days of being a single mother, when she was so new and so was I, and exhaustion and inadequacy made me feel as though I had made a mistake. I wasn’t cut out for this. She deserved better than me.
As a disclaimer, I can’t say I personally regret motherhood. I’ve still over the years had thoughts that I wasn’t the right type of person to be a good mother, but I’ve come to learn that’s normal and nothing to worry about. I’ve also from time to time indulged in the thought of what route my life may have taken had I not become a mother, though it’s impossible to really know that for sure what might have been, but it is something I think many parents do. But I just want to be transparent about the fact that I’m writing this not technically as someone who understands entirely what it feels like to regret becoming a mother, but as someone who is working to educate themselves on the topic with an open mind.
Feeling trapped in a role they didn’t necessarily want but were forced to adopt due to pressures from society, their partner or other family members. From what I’ve discovered in all my reading on the subject, this is one of the biggest reasons behind why one may eventually regret becoming a mother. I’ve read countless stories of women who never really wanted to have kids in the first place who gave in and had them because they thought they should. This really speaks volumes about how little society as a whole respects women’s decisions and choices for their own lives and bodies. Women who openly state they don’t want children are treated as if they’re defective, heartless monsters. They’re told they’ll change their mind one day, especially when they meet a man who does want children. Which is a horrifying thing to say when you actually think about and dissect what that means, which is essentially:
It wasn’t what they expected it would be. This piggybacks a little bit off the first one in some cases, where one might decide to have children because it’s what they’re “supposed” to do and go into the experience with a specific idea in mind of what normal motherhood is going to be like, only to discover that reality is nothing like that. This is especially prevalent in our Pinterest/Instagram/Showcase My Life era where everyone is constantly subjected to the beautiful, airbrushed, and yes, staged photos depicting the so-called “reality” of other people’s lives. It’s easy to see how someone would fall for the the sparkling appeal and feel let down by the sometimes messy reality. The monotony alone of day to day parenting can be enough to break some people and it’s hard to know what to expect until you are in the thick of it.
Their own dreams and goals can get pushed to the wayside as they focus on their family. This can lead to a great deal of resentment over time, understandably so. There are exceptions, plenty of women have families and continue to pursue all the things they intended to, many climb up the ladder at work, obtain promotions and awards, further their education and continue to travel and have fulfilling life experiences outside of motherhood. And many don’t. For some families the costs of having children are higher than they realized and maybe instead of paying for daycare mom has to quit the job she loves or drop out of the college program she’s been excelling at and stay home.
Some women feel lost and essentially trapped in motherhood, as if they don’t exist as their own person anymore and are “just” a mom. In some cases at least partially due to the above mentioned section about giving up their own dreams, often hobbies and unique things that make a person who they are might get pushed aside as new priorities emerge. Wine tour weekends with the girls, curling up with a good book, taking a painting class, or indulging in a great pair of designer shoes or a spa day might become unattainable luxuries when once they were things woven into the fabric of who you were. We’re told as women that we should feel entirely fulfilled as mothers, but that’s simply not the case. Some women may feel that way, and that’s great for them, but many others still want to feel as if they are special and important as themselves and might not get that anymore.
Relationships can fall apart or change in unexpected ways. The stress of raising small humans can wreak havoc on some relationships. It can also have the opposite effect and bring some couples closer than ever, but it’s not unheard of for relationships that had previously seemed solid to fall apart once children enter the world. There are many reasons for this, a lot of them directly connected to everything I’ve already written above but when it happens it would be easy to understand that at least some parents might pinpoint the exact time when things changed and feel at least frustration if not outright irritation at the way these newest arrivals threw everything into chaos.
Some people might just not like their kids as much as they thought they would. Probably one of the more taboo causes of this type of thing, and I’m assuming one that emerges more so as the children get older and develop their own opinions and view but I can see how this could cause significant distress as you as a parent start to realize that though you’d do anything to protect, nurture and care for this human you’ve created, you find them really hard to actually like the vast majority of the time.
In recent years more women have had the confidence to come forward–even anonymously–and admit that they sometimes regret motherhood. There is still a huge stigma surrounding it however, and even people trying to be open minded about the subject (like me!) can still have knee-jerk, unfair “What a monster!” type reactions. Why is that? What do we assume about these women that makes us see them–even for a split second–in a negative light for admitting something like this?
Contrary to what some may believe, not all women want to be mothers, should be mothers, or will feel fulfilled in that role. I mentioned this above but it’s worth mentioning again because it’s important. We have to stop pushing women into being mothers when they don’t want to or aren’t ready to. This spins off into a much bigger, much more complex topic regarding women’s rights to make choices for their own bodies including access to multiple forms of birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies, safe and reliable options and resources to deal with an unexpected, unwanted pregnancy if it does occur, and dismantling the societal pressures that tell women they Must! Be! Mothers! But all that is much deeper than what we’re going to get into here today. But understanding and accepting that not all women should be or want to be mothers, and there is nothing wrong with that, is a good first step.
Regretting motherhood doesn’t mean that a woman hates or dislikes her children, that she’s a bad mom, or that she’s going to or is more likely to harm her children. All of these misconceptions need to be wiped off the table immediately. Some of those Do-It-All, hyperactive PTA mom’s may regret motherhood and go above and beyond overcompensating because of it. Moms who seem like the most perfect doting mothers on the planet may secretly wish they could run away and start over but never admit it due to all that associated stigma. There are plenty of fierce Mama Bears who will fight anyone who dares mess with their offspring at a moments notice, yet still privately wish the didn’t have any cubs at all. None of these women are bad mothers, in fact most of them are exactly the type of women who may make other mothers feel inadequate, but they definitely exist.
More of us probably experience at least some feelings of something similar to regret, we just don’t always talk about it or label it that way. Wishing you had never had children is on the somewhat more extreme end of the scale, but everything from fantasizing longingly about the what-ifs and the grass on the other side, to eagerly anticipating one day having a finally empty nest can also be small-scale forms of at the very least acknowledging that parenting isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and sometimes we’re just Over It.
If you’d like to read more on this topic, here are a few of the articles I discovered and found helpful:
‘I regret having children’ (by Anne Kingston, published on Macleans)
The mothers who regret having children (by Jean Mackenzie, published on BBC News in April 2018)
Inside the Growing Movement of Women Who Wish They’d Never Had Kids (by Sarah Treleaven, published on Marie Claire in Sept 2016)
Regretting motherhood: What have I done to my life? (by Lola Augustine Brown, published on Today’s Parent in June 2017)
Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of this blog post. If you’ve experienced any of what I’ve described above and feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear from you.
I spend far more time than I probably should on websites like Nameberry – even though I do use it mostly for naming characters when I’m working on a new story – I just really like names.
I love the stories and meanings behind names. I like hearing what made parents choose a particular name, or learning what a person’s Almost Name was, like if they had been born a boy instead of a girl or vice versa (mine would have been Steven and my daughter’s would have been Alexander, if you’re dying to know)
My personal preferences for names tends to change over time. For a long time when I was younger I was absolutely obsessed with names like Faith, Hope, Charity, etc. When it came time to name my daughter, I had a pregnancy hormone induced meltdown/temper tantrum because I hated every single (girls) name on the planet. Naming a person is hard. It’s a lot of pressure to decide what they’ll be (likely) called for the rest of their life.
One thing I’ve always really loved though is unisex or gender neutral names. Now, you could argue that any name can be unisex, in fact many of the names we now consider “girls names” were once predominantly given to boys and it’s actually considered kind of cool sometimes to give a girl a “boys name” Just look at some famous examples: Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds named their first daughter James, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher named their daughter Wyatt, Kristen Bell & Dax Shepherd named one of their daughters Lincoln. Generally speaking, all 3 of these names would typically be considered “boys names” by many people, and it’s a bit unique, possibly even unusual for them to be given to girls, though it’s nothing knew. I’ve known many girls throughout my life with names like Ryan and Jordan. But I also have no doubt that each of these name announcements were likely met with at least some negative reactions by judgmental people who were somehow shocked and offended that someone else would give their baby girls a (gasp) BOYS NAME.
(It’s worth noting that generally speaking, these days most parents don’t break the mold in the opposite direction, and give their baby boys traditionally feminine names, which is an interesting detail and could speak to the difference in attitudes towards how more masculinity is considered more “desirable” while femininity is not, but that’s a whole other, far more complex blog post that I’m just tackling today)
So this got me thinking a bit about truly unisex names. Names that at this point in time don’t really lean in either direction. I know there has been a big uptick in recent years of parents trying to raise their children as gender neutral as possible, which obviously extends to names for many families. Parents want to avoid names that lean too far in either direction for one reason or another (again, a whole other blog post) and that can be a tricky thing to achieve. Generally speaking, I think choosing a unisex name is more effective the more unusual the name is. If it’s not something that a lot of people are used to hearing, it’s less likely there are going to be a lot of preconceived notions regarding the assumed gender for that name. Like the 3 celebrity baby names mentioned above, you can’t deny that most people likely think of those as male names. Whereas names like Shannon, Ashley and Beverly certainly all sound like girl’s names to most people but in fact they used to be commonly given to baby boys.
I think that that’s one of the things to keep in mind, names change over time. Names that were once considered unusual are now very common and names that everyone seemed to have 50 years ago are now considered names that no one would ever think to choose for their baby. (Gertrude, anyone? Although, there does seem to be somewhat of a resurgence in giving babies semi old-timey sounding names.) Also, opinions on names are varied. I might think Riley is a boys name and you might have a little girl named Riley and be adamant that it is in fact a “girls name.” Neither of us are necessarily right, or wrong, these are just our opinions. (To be completely clear, this is also just an example, I don’t necessarily think Riley is a boys name or a girls name, it’s just the first Could Be Either name that popped into my head.)
It’s also worth adding that the people we come in contact with in our lives will shape how we feel about certain names, including whether we find a name masculine or feminine. I once worked with a man named Darcy and so for me, Darcy might be a boys name even though many could argue it is in fact unisex or even a girls name, just as an example. In fact, to test this I went through one of the unisex names lists on Nameberry and for many of the names my first thought was either of someone I knew, or a famous person, or a character with that name, who may slightly skew my opinion one way or another. In general, the names where I didn’t immediately think of a specific person, were more likely for my mind at least to perceive the name as gender neutral.
Rowan, River, Emerson, Zion, Remy, and Sage, for example, were all names on the unisex list that I personally had no particular instinctive gender based opinion on at first glance. Someone else might know a troupe of kiddos with those exact names and automatically think, “No those are definitely boys/girls names!”
What all of this boils down to, is that almost any name can be gender neutral, or at least it might be at some period in time. But it’s really hard to know the future of a name. You could try to give your son the most truly gender neutral name of all time only to find when he starts kindergarten that 25% of the boys in his class had parents with the same idea and now that unisex name you were so proud of is rapidly shooting to the top of the most popular boys names list.
I think at the end of the day, the most important thing is to pick a name that you love and that you feel suits your child. Whichever direction that name leans, it might start to lean the other way in a few years time.
This article from the Atlantic, while a couple years old now is a really good look at the history behind parents giving their daughter’s more masculine names and how you just don’t see the same phenomenon the other direction as much.
This Nameberry article actually has a huge list of names that were previously most commonly boys names but crossed over and became mostly girls names, including the percentages and dates for the change. It’s an interesting read that really goes to show you how the assumed gender of a name can really change over time. You could pick the most currently gender neutral name you can think of and 40 years from now it might be at the top of the most common girls names lists. You just never know.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of this blog post. What kind of names do you like best?