Thursday, January 11, 2018
At first glance, Amy* is like many busy young moms—she’s 34, lives in Alberta, works full-time and is devoted to her five-year-old. “I love my son with all my heart,” she says. “My life revolves around this child.” Four nights a week from May to June are spent at a sports field, she says. “All his schoolmates do it, so if he doesn’t, he’s left out.”
When discussing motherhood, however, Amy deviates from the maternal script: if she could make that choice over again, she says, she wouldn’t. She never wanted children (“I was very independent,” she says)—her husband did. “It would have been a deal-breaker.” Parenthood put an untenable strain on the marriage; her husband wasn’t as involved as she wanted; they separated. Life is difficult, Amy reports: “Our child has two homes and I’m still doing 90 per cent of it on my own.”
Amy’s candour is part of a growing yet contentious conversation about parental regret, one primarily focused on mothers. Social media provides one hub, from the 9,000-member Facebook group “I regret having children” (on which “Warren Chansky” posted: “I hated being a father and I don’t like the people my kids have become”) to a Facebook community with more than 2,600 members founded by Lauren Byrne, a 32-year-old ER nurse and mother of two who lives in Newfoundland. Byrne doesn’t regret having children, she tells Maclean’s, though women on the site say they do.