Have We Made Motherhood Too Hard?

by | Sep 27, 2019 | Uncategorized | 82 comments

Have We Made Motherhood too Big?
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Does motherhood sound like the most exhausting job in the world?

We’re gearing up for Rebecca to deliver really soon, so we’ve been thinking a lot as a family about modern motherhood lately. And at the same time, the news is constantly filled with the dropping birth rate–the CDC announced in May that the fertility rate was now at the lowest rate in 32 years. America is under the replacement rate of 2.2. In fact, the vast majority of Western countries are. Canada’s birth rate, at 1.6, is even lower than the United States’ birth rate, at 1.8. As a culture, we are choosing not to reproduce.

Why?

Columnist Mark Steyn has long argued that fertility and religion are linked. When people lose their faith in something greater than themselves, then it’s hard to look towards the future. And without a future-orientation, the present, and having fun, become all that matters. If you don’t have a sense that you have a purpose in life, why reproduce?

I agree, but I don’t think that’s the only reason. I also think our consumer culture has made motherhood almost impossible. Our culture sells us on dissatisfaction so that we will try harder. It sells us on bigger is better, and boy is that apparent when it comes to motherhood.

We’ve been talking about how life can get in the way of marital happiness this month, and I thought a good way to cap off September is just to bring up this question: Have we made motherhood too big?

Think about how standards have changed.

Fifty years ago, most women married knowing how to make seven main meals, one for each week, with company on Sundays. Bridal magazines were filled with this (have you chosen your meals yet?). And if each of the weekday meals were simple casseroles, so much the better, because they were cheaper. People had Shepherd’s Pie Tuesdays and Roast on Sundays.

Today we’re supposed to cook gourmet meals. We’re supposed to cook interesting things for kids’ lunches (no more bologna sandwiches). Have you ever actually flipped through a woman’s magazine or a parenting magazine and imagined, “if I actually added up everything that it tells me to do between these pages, how much time would it take?” You’ve got reading to your kids and exercising with your kids and doing homework with your kids and taking kids to lessons and cooking healthy meals and having a cleaning system and doing all the laundry and spending time on yourself and with friends and reading good books and investing in your marriage, all while having kids at school full time and working full-time.  I’m sure it would take longer than the 24 hours the good Lord chose to give us.

Birthday parties, when I was young, mostly consisted of playing out in the backyard, perhaps with some skipping ropes or bubbles, and then eating hot dogs and a homemade cake. There were no ice cream cakes that cost easily $30. There was no renting out the rec center so everyone could go swimming. Occasionally some kid’s parents would take you to a McDonald’s birthday, and that was Extra. Special. But that was about it. Here’s my 9th birthday party. Looks like we played Sorry and blew bubbles!

Today we go bowling, or swimming, or something big. I know one mom who took ten girls to a glamour photo shoot! I can’t even imagine how much that cost, because they all had their hair and makeup done, too. And I do this, too. Here we were eating at the bowling alley the year that Becca turned 9. 

Then there are all the kids’ activities. We just weren’t in that many when we were young, but I know some families with multiple kids all in rep hockey (meaning that they travel every weekend for tournaments). Their whole lives are wrapped up in taking their 8-year-olds to out of town hockey games! And then in the summer there’s hockey camp, or ballet camp, or karate camp. Add up all that money, and it’s a small fortune.

In fact, one recent study from the USDA found the cost of raising an average kid, from birth to 18, to be $233,610. I wouldn’t be surprised if many twenty and thirty-somethings looked at their friends with kids, who were run off their feet taking their kids to all these lessons and activities, shelling out money left, right, and center, and these people said, “I’d rather spend my money on cruises,” and forgot about child-rearing altogether.

We have overburdened motherhood.

We have said you need to pay all this money, you need to be chairperson of the PTA, you need to make gourmet meals, decorate your children’s rooms, buy a bigger house, and give up all your own goals and dreams for the foreseeable future. We think moms should work harder now than they did fifty years ago, when women had more time to devote to motherhood. I think we’ve gone insane.

It’s okay as a mom if you still have your own time. It’s okay if you still have a marriage. It’s okay if you live in a smaller home, and don’t have all the kids’ stuff, but instead just learn how to make your own fun. 

Yes, being a mom is time-consuming.

But it doesn’t have to be as hectic as everyone makes it out to be. You don’t have to have your child in every activity. You don’t have to be on every committee. It’s okay if you only know how to make a few meals, if your children share a room, if you leave the kids with grandparents occasionally so you can get adult time, if you don’t throw a birthday party every year, if you don’t take your kids to tons of cultural events, and if you don’t put up a swing set in your backyard.

It’s okay if you still have your own time. It’s okay if you still have a marriage. It’s okay if you live in a smaller home, and don’t have all the kids’ stuff, but instead just learn how to make your own fun.

Maybe if we stopped demanding that motherhood be bigger and better, and simply concentrated on it being part of our lives, instead of the whole thing, we’d be a lot better off!

If families just got back to what we did well–hanging out without any plans, taking walks, playing football in the park, playing Sorry!, lying on the bed reading bedtime stories, enforcing bedtime so parents still had parent time, ensuring siblings could play so you still had a life–all of these things would make parenting so much easier. But we throw that aside so that we can live up to some ideal, and that ideal takes a LOT of work that probably isn’t necessary.

So as we end this month, I just want to say: If you’re tired, if you feel like there is too much on your plate, if you feel like you can never get everything done–maybe that’s normal. Maybe we need to give ourselves permission to ask, “what kind of life do I actually want? Do I need all of this in my life? What’s actually the most important when it comes to building relationships in our families?” And maybe we need to give ourselves permission to be weird, and not to do everything that we’re told you absolutely must do.

What do you find is the most overhyped part of motherhood–the part that our society demands we devote so much time and money to, that really isn’t that important in the end? Let me know, and let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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82 Comments

  1. Active Mom

    I think another difference is the amount of homework my kids have. When I was a kid I remember having spelling homework each week and every once in awhile a math worksheet. In middle school I only had a math worksheet each evening and maybe a little bit of “review” reading if I was struggling in another subject. We recently moved and our old school district had my children doing about an hour and a half of homework in elementary, 2-3 hours in middle school and in high school it was steady at 3 hours. Every night! Our new district is better but there is still a lot more than I had when I was younger. A lot of this homework needs supervision because you literally have to teach it to your children as they do it. Which means moms have less time in the evening to just play and relax with your kids.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      YES! So very true. I also think that’s because far less learning is being done in school, and basically schools require parents to teach the curriculum to the children. They rely on parents in a way they didn’t before. So kids without involved parents fall even further behind.

      True story: When we homeschooled, we did about 3 hours a day until 5th grade, and they were far ahead of their peers. But many of my husband’s colleagues ALSO did 2-3 hours of homework a night, and my kids were ahead in math & reading. They used to laugh about this in the operating room when they were just talking at the hospital–the dichotomy. They came the conclusion that they both were homeschooling, we were just doing it during the day and they were doing it at night. One family actually took their kids out of school and homeschooled after those conversations (and my kids ended up teaching their kids swimming).

      Reply
      • Belinda

        Absolutely a fair assessment and addition. I don’t have the study link to share, but I have read that homework isn’t even truly evidence-based, and especially not another full day of it on top of the school day. I know a high schooler who took AP classes and had homework from the time she got home til after bedtime. Granted, distractedness probably played a role, but good grief!

        Our family switched to homeschooling for multiple reasons, with homework low on the list, but without the distractions of 20 other students per class, the hours spent lining up and waiting, and all the other time fillers, my kids take anywhere from 2-6 hrs to do their work. We use a literature-heavy curriculum and I do pick and choose assignments sometimes. I know homeschool isn’t for everyone, but I’m personally very grateful to have it.

        Reply
      • Karen

        I keep hearing about this homework thing…all I can say for those who need to use public school is ask about it! We have used two elementary schools so far—neither required homework at all. It was optional practice for parents who wanted to do it. When I taught middle school science, I never sent homework home. Occasionally we did a project within a very limited time frame. We would have research time at school, so homework was really extra as needed. The districts don’t expect homework to get done, so everything is encouraged to be done at school in a contained way—and I taught in affluent areas. Most of it is due to the reality of after school activities in many families. Children typically perform at the same level as children of their own demographic—especially socioeconomic status—so even with everything done at school (barring special needs) kids were at or above grade level.

        I know not everyone has access to a good school, but for those who like their neighborhood school be encouraged—it can be a good thing for your family! It may accomplish for some people that streamlining that they need. Public school actually saves my family time for a lot of reasons—consistent special programming being one of them. Now I don’t have to drive my kids everywhere just to go to some library program or art class! They go each week. It makes me feel less guilty about trimming the after school programs, and as a former teacher and former homeschooled child—I can see the benefits of both sides and can’t write it off for my kids just yet! Public school is one of societies favorite punching bags, but it is a viable option for some of those overworked moms out there.

        Reply
        • EM

          Yep! A good district makes all the difference. Ours is excellent as well and it is so nice our kids are happy and getting a great education in public school. Incidentally, ours is pretty light on the homework too, which I think makes for much happier kids and doesn’t kill their love of learning!

          Reply
    • Cathie

      Thank you so much! 26 years ago my husband and I blended our families. My step-daughter now age 35 is going through another divorce. She has three kids with three different dads. Is a good mom but because of her mom walking out when she was three she has some very deep rejection issues. This year she has really turned on her Dad and I telling us how terrible we are and how we have never been there for her emotionally. I wrote her a long full letter on how much we have done for her. She and her dad are co-dependent so I just draw my boundaries and stay out. This weekend she is moving for the 7th time and her Dad rented the apartment for her, got the insurance and has now assembled a group of friends to move her. She hasn’t packed a box yet and tomorrow is the move. I am going on a road trip to go spend time with my son, dil, and grand son. Anyway thanks for showing me I did do more than the average mom and no need to feel guilty.
      Cathie

      Reply
  2. Anonymous

    I actually needed to hear this today. My kids are mostly grown. I just sent my oldest to college this year, and i have a 13 year old. We live in the country, on a crop farm so our lives revolve around the farming seasons, and my husband gets so busy during the farming seasons that it was just me and the kids alot of the time.

    We have always lived fairly simple lives, but splurge on a big vacation every year. I never did many of the “big things” and recently I’ve been feeling a little guilty, amd worried that my kids missed out on all the things i hear other younger kids talking about. Deep down, i knew then and I know now that our lifestyle worked and my kids are happy. However, it is easy to feel “mom guilt” in this day and age of over the top everything.

    Thank you for reminding me that its ok to not have huge birthday parties (we have a huge yard so parties for my kids was always running around with balls and hoses and water balloons, etc. We live in the country so rec parks and cultural attractions are not much of an option. Food around here is not gourmet but it is homegrown and homemade. While she was growing up, my daughter was always my kitchen helper, learning how to cook, can, and freeze. This weekend when she comes home from college, she is excited to make and freeze applesauce.

    The simple life did not hold them back. I think it gave us more quality time together without the distractions of modern life, and “likes” on social media, and always worrying about keeping up. And, after over 20 years, my husband and i are still happily married and have always managed to find time together.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so lovely, Kristen! I bet it would have been really wonderful to grow up in your home. It sounds lovely.

      Reply
    • Meghan

      My daughter is 2 and I recently started including her in my cooking. So far she only stirs and adds spices/herbs and dumps pre-measured ingredients but she loves it! What did you start with when your daughter was little? I feel like there could be more my daughter could help me do, I just don’t know what.

      Reply
  3. Needgrace

    Its sad that the birth rate is diminshing in Western countries but its not that surprising. Religion has off coursed played a big role when it comes to kids. Having kids has been seen as part of Gods plan and haaving kids made you part of that plan. When secularism grows these views diminsh. I also think that in Western countries we have all focus on “me, myself and I”. We are very focused on our “happiness” and often I think we define happiness as something that makes me feel good which means that anythings that is difficult and makes me feel uncomfortable are things I need to stay away from. As long as I “feel good” emotionally with my career, money and so on then I dont need anything else. Having kids means that we need to put focus on someone else which becomes to much for us because it takes focus from us and our goals. This goes for both men and women. I am not saying that this is the way everyone thinks but I do think many think like this. It can also explain why many marriages end in divorce(talking about marriages that didnt have a biblical reason to end in divorce).

    As a dad I just want to say that one way to make motherhood easier is also to give the man more responsability. I am thankful that I live in a country that strives for equality (even if it still has a far way to go) and even has a law that dads have to stay at home with the kids for at least 3 months. This can make motherhood easier when not everything is laid upon the mother but the dad also takes responsability. Its important that men learn this specially when it is easy to get into “lazy mode” when it comes to the kids and expect ones wife to do everything. This can really be a part of dying from oneself to show your wife love specially when you as I grew up in a family where my mom did practically everything at home.

    Reply
    • Belinda

      I agree! Life got more possible for me when my husband really stepped into the “partnership” idea and started doing more than just “man chores”. I wish we had 3 months of paternity leave, but I was grateful for the week or two that we got.

      Reply
  4. Rachel

    I still remember when my oldest started kindergarten (he had done pre-K also, but that was just half days), and when we were meeting his teacher at open house, she made this comment about how she would see me whenever I volunteered during the year. Note the assumption that I would be volunteering. No question if I had planned on doing so or if I had the time to do so. Granted that I happened to be a stay at home mom, but she didn’t know that, and she didn’t know anything about my personality or skills with dealing with other people’s five year olds. I was so astonished by the assumption that I didn’t even correct it. Needless to say, that teacher only saw me again twice: during American education week when they invite family to visit and observe (and I didn’t stay long) and again at his promotion ceremony at the end of the year. Luckily for me, the following school year, I didn’t have this issue since I was 9 months pregnant with my second child at the time. 😃 Honestly, I think being a highly introverted person with an anxiety disorder helps me not stress myself about not being wonder woman. Being a mama isn’t meant to be so difficult as they are trying to make it.

    Reply
  5. Tessa W

    It’s been AGES since I commented but this post just speaks to my heart and passion so I had to say something.

    No to all of that insanity! We very purposely choose to stay out of the mainstream way of parenting. Mothering is still time-consuming and has aspects that are work but I truly believe God wants it to be enjoyable. And so many studies have been done to show that simpler lives leader to happier, more fulfilled, and closer knit families.

    We live in a community where largeish families are common so me expecting #5 (40 weeks today and still waiting!) doesn’t get any second looks. But we came from a community where even 3 was looked at in shock. But we raise them on a single lower income and I think we live rather comfortably.

    Even many believers will say that kids are a blessing and gift from God but then say they only want 1 or 2 so they can have more money…. to travel or give them more stuff or whatever. But many people will choose the extra money over the child. So sad!

    Reply
    • Belinda

      Congratulations! And amen!

      Reply
    • Jane Eyre

      Tessa, that last part is not true and does a grave disservice to families who are making thoughtful decisions about finances.

      It’s not about having money for travel to Bali or having another kid; often, it’s about being able to retire or send your children to state university. The harsh reality of modern life, in which people live until age 80 or 90, is that it can be the *children* who sacrifice when their parents “choose to sacrifice to live on one income and have more children.”

      If parents don’t have enough to save for retirement, and have mom at home, and have six kids, then those kids are the ones who will make hard, hard choices in their adult years, just when they are starting their own families. They are the ones who will delay child-bearing or have fewer children because they need to care for destitute parents. If the parents “sacrifice” by living on one income and then tell their kids that they have to each take on $40,000 in student loans for college, it’s the adult children making the financial sacrifice – far more than Mom and Dad.

      Pointing out the obvious: almost every country in the western world will run out of money for social safety nets.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Jane, I hear what you’re saying, but I also hear what Tessa’s saying. I’ve met her at one of my speaking engagements. She lives in a smaller, more inexpensive community, and also, up here in Canada university is not as expensive as in the U.S. I hear you about not wanting to overburden your kids, though, absolutely. But there are also choices people can make to live in cheaper communities or do cheaper forms of school. It does all come down to choices, and I understand that some people live in much more expensive places, and also countries where education is much more expensive. But I always encourage people like that–think outside the box! There may be ways to do life that are cheaper that you just haven’t thought of yet.

        Reply
        • Jane Eyre

          Sheila, I moved from Boston the Midwest, live in a 1,000 square foot apartment with my husband (despite the fact that we earn over six figures between the two of us) and drive a car with 300,000 miles on it that I do my own repairs on. My husband’s job will provide our son with a very inexpensive college education, because one of the benefits is reduced tuition for children of faculty.

          I don’t need the lecture on how to do life more cheaply.

          Perhaps re-read what I wrote and really understand the implications of what I am saying. It’s not a pretty picture to watch adult children work like dogs because their parents stuck them with their choices.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Jane, I’m very sorry if I offended you. I truly am.

            And that’s awesome that you’re living so cheaply! But isn’t that what I was trying to say? That we can make choices to do life more cheaply so that our kids aren’t saddled with debt? You’re living proof of that! That’s amazing.

            I guess what I don’t understand is this assumption that kids will be saddled with debt. My kids had a lot of friends in the U.S. growing up–we seemed to spend every other month driving down to Pennsylvania, and they were always Skyping with friends there–and pretty much almost all of them worked hard to go to university on scholarship. I know not everyone can do that, again, but I just think that assuming that more kids will mean that you’re putting huge debt on your kids isn’t necessarily true? I know one family with six kids whose kids all did the equivalent of 1.5 years of university in high school, and then went to university on scholarship, and the parents really didn’t pay that much. I know others who did the first few years online (and one who did her whole degree online while working full-time, and then applied for a green card, and is now working full-time in the United States with a good job, while her husband actually cares for the kids). And I know some who went to the military and had med school paid for.

            I’m just saying that there are options, that’s all. And I think you’re living proof of that! I wish we could talk more about those options instead of assuming that kids will graduate from university with huge amounts of debt, because I totally agree that that should not be the norm.

            I think to make those other options a reality, though, involves the kids, starting in grade 9. One of my best friend’s daughters worked part-time all through high school, got a scholarship, and is able to pay her own way through school right now, even though her parents don’t have much money because of her mom’s disability. But that knowledge that she would have to meant that she started working early. Similarly, that family of 6 kids told their kids, “you’re going to have to earn scholarships”, which made them all work so much harder through high school, and they all did. (that girl who is currently in university paying her own way also just got engaged, and the two of them just bought a house, because he’s a contractor and he’s going to fix it up and they’re planning to re-sell in 3 years when she’s all done her training).

            I’m just saying that it can be done. It’s not easy, but it can be done. So saying that having 4 kids means that you’re saddling kids with ridiculous expenses doesn’t need to be true. It is harder, for sure, but kids can do amazing things, and the kids who I’ve seen who have done that have been super responsible, lovely people, who have also made good decisions throughout high school.

            I think if we talk up those options more, maybe parents and kids will see that there are different ways of doing things?

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Tessa! It’s so great to see you again! And, wow, I think the last time I saw you you had 3? Way to go! Hope everything goes well for you!

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        I get super irritated when I think about people having $40k or $100k of student debt. I’m currently in school, living at home – obviously – and taking my first two years at a junior college (online classes). The cost for a full time semester (15 hours) is $2500. When I transfer to a four year school, which is a small branch of our state university, the cost will go up to $4000 per semester. There are grants and scholarships available to off set the cost as needed based on income. That comes out to a grand total of $26,000 for a four year degree if paid out of pocket with no grants and no advance placement high school credits. That’s an average of $6500 per academic year. Expensive, yes, but affordable for most people if they save diligently.

        There are two big issues with college in the US – the first of which is that young people want to go to big name schools, live on campus, and “find themselves”. The often don’t know what they want to major in, and haven’t considered if they are a good fit or can earn a good living in that field. Most no longer graduate “on time”, in fact I’ve read articles saying that a Bachelor’s degree should be considered a six year degree now. This leads to a lot of added expense.

        The second problem was that the US government ignored basic economics of supply and demand when they made policy to subsidize student loans. This caused the demand to go up (as more people could get loans) without effecting the supply side. In my opinion it would have made a lot more sense to give extra funding to universities on the condition that they lower tuition. This would have increased the supply and subsequently affected demand as more people found college affordable.

        Reply
  6. Belinda

    1. I’ve gotten subliminal messages from people about my carbon footprint, having 4 kids. We eat more, drive bigger cars, wear more clothes, etc., etc. I have even shared blog posts about how larger families actually work at cutting costs and carbon by driving one vehicle in carpools, hand-me-down clothes, buying in bulk, etc. We get comments about our full hands, our sainthood status (must be really patient, haha), do you know how that happens, all of it. As if being a parent was so awful, especially for longer than the 18 or 20 years that smaller families take on the “chore”.

    2. Gadgets. Good grief. Fitbits, Ipads, smart watches, smart phones. For each kid. And all the newwww models. Hah! 2 of my kids don’t even have flip phones yet and won’t until we feel they need one. And yes, we plan to start them on *flip* phones, where internet is a pain and texting is annoying.

    Reply
  7. Jane Eyre

    Um… I had this conversation with my husband on our first date. I’m not going to be a mommy martyr, put together a Pinterest-worthy life for our child, or run everyone ragged doing “the best.”

    There is a very competitive, but also weirdly second-rate, aspect to modern parenting. The whole idea is that you “need” to start your kids early because if you don’t, they will never get onto high school sports teams, get into Harvard, etc. Spoiler alert: if your kid is actually that talented, they will succeed anyway. If they aren’t, no amount of elementary school preparation will turn them into an elite hockey player who is recruited by Harvard. This type of thing affects kids around the edges, but far less than can justify the effort put into it.

    There is an interesting, and gut-turning, article in The Atlantic about parenting in New York City. Frankly, so much of it seems to be a vanity project: obtaining status through the path you chart for your children (whether or not they are actually superstars).

    One of the things my father always said is that he didn’t care if we became janitors, so long as we were the best janitors we could be. He was a single parent with a demanding career, so we did sports and such, just not to the level of crazy. I have degrees in engineering and law from elite schools, in part because I’m self-motivated enough to want to succeed, rather than having had “success” be something foisted upon me from the age of 7.

    Reply
  8. Tina’s

    YAY!! Thanks for this affirming post sheila. I call this way of family living, “the abundance of less”. As I write this comment, my kids are building a blanket fort (day off school today) and wrestling with the woes of gravity vs linen. And the sound is sweet! It is the sound of kids who know how to play together and with nothing. This is a struggle for our family as it is sad but true that our family is living counter cultural when we choose smaller and less. But it is worth it.

    I would like to add this thought:

    As someone who sits on the edge between millennial and gen x, I see that our parents generation (who did the simple a bit better than us) is the generation who said “I kept the kids all alive. That’s good enough”. And as millennials and the kids who were “just kept alive”, perhaps we run full on into this “chaos cycle of parenthood” because we are compelled to do better, do more than merely keep our kids alive.
    *now for sure there are broad sweeping statements there and I am not suggesting that this was the attitude of a whole generation. But I think it’s worth noting that the desire to do better by our kids than our parents did by us, is a big motivating factor.

    Reply
  9. Lindsey

    I don’t personally know any moms who are trying to be Pinterest-worthy, but even still I think that motherhood is a balancing act because it really is at its core SO demanding and full of sacrifice.

    I will say this: those who I know who have chosen not to have kids despite the opportunity (being married, having a job), are among the more intrinsically selfish people that I know. I mean, we are all selfish to some degree, but I think that choosing to never have children is at its core motivated by an acceptance and embracing of self-centeredness.

    Kids get in the way of people’s fun (true story – there’s a scene on The Office(US) where Micheal asks Toby “why are you the way that you are? Every time I try to do something fun, or exciting, you make it not that way.” That’s become an inside joke when my sister and I talk about trying to go out to eat or shopping with our group of many small children 😂). Children get in the way of your sleep. And, if we are being honest, they make self-care and nurturing other relationships much more difficult as well just simply because their needs have to be prioritized. All these demands help us to become better people, but child rearing is not something one would enter into if they desired to live a self-centered lifestyle – and many, many do.

    Another thing that I would say is really difficult about motherhood is how judged you feel when your children misbehave in public. It takes real guts to take a large group of kids under the age of 9 out in public. Lol.

    Reply
    • Joanna Sawatsky

      I had a lot of friends in my grad school days who explicitly said they didn’t want children. I always thought that was sad, but I don’t necessarily think it comes from selfishness. But I think many of them had, simply, never been around kids. We are in such age silos that if you’re not going to a church or other place of worship where people of all ages gather, you’re unlikely to have quality time with babies and small kids.

      Reply
      • Anne

        Generally, I would also be careful to assume that a reason people wouldn’t want kids is because they haven’t been around them. That could very well be true of the people in your class, I’m not saying that’s wrong. Just that some people are convinced that kids are not for them by being around them. There are a lot of reasons people might decide not to have kids.

        You and I know that relating to your own child is ENTIRELY different than relating to someone else’s, but that is hard to understand unless you experience it.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love how The Office is applicable to anything. 🙂 (Toby is the worst person in the world.) 🙂

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        I actually don’t mind Toby, always wondered why Michael was so mean to him. Now Andy one the other hand…..

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I always thought Toby was awesome! You know the actor was the main writer/one of the main producers, right? I think he was the producer’s brother or something and he wrote a ton of the episodes. It’s so much funnier when you realize that.

          Reply
    • Renee

      Have you ever stopped to actually talk to these “intrinsically selfish” people about why they have chosen not to have children or are you simply judging them because their path is different from yours? There are many many reason the people may chose not to have children that have nothing to do with money. I’m not saying that is true for all of them, but maybe before passing such a harsh judgment on them you should have an honest discussion with them. Maybe they are the only children in the family who can take responsibility for parents who are ill. Maybe they have a genetic complication that they don’t think it is fair to pass on to a child. Maybe they suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts are afraid the stress of parenthood would be to much and don’t want to put that burden on a child. Maybe they have a sibling that needs help with their children financially and or emotionally. Just to name a few or any combination of reasons plus a million more that have nothing to do with frivolous desires. This should be between that couple and God. Not you. I don’t believe this post was intended as a platform to pass judgment on those who have chosen not to have children like you and others have done.

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        At least one of the people I know who decided not to have kids had openly acknowledged that it’s because they aren’t selfless enough for it – and more power to them for admitting it – and many others I’ve discussed it with have listed things that would be classified under “cramping their lifestyle”.

        For the record, we are all subject to selfishness – myself included – but there is no denying that society as a whole is becoming more obsessed with self-fulfillment and less concerned with doing hard things for the sake of helping others and doing their duty.

        For the record, I never said that everyone who chooses not to have kids does so because they are selfish, just that – for many in our society – that’s what it boils down to.

        Reply
    • Lo

      Lindsey,
      I don’t want to assume you meant this in a negative and judgmental way, but let me tell you that it is people who say stuff like your comment that is a reason that I’mot too crazy about the church or people there. Shiela has been talking a lot about the harm the church causes due to view on women and things of that nature, but at least for me, this is a different thing. I am a newly married person and as of right now, I don’t think i want children. This is not about selfishness but more so that I have never been one to dream about having children. I do not have that desire but have many others, most of which are incredibly selfless like devoting my time to looking after the 125+ college football players my husband mentors as a coach, and building up my own business to help people with their health while also showing them Jesus. It is incredibly frustrating to have Christian people say that it is wrong to judge, but then think that if you don’t have kids you are wrong or selfish. Yes, that may be the norm, but I don’t want to have kids just because “thats just what you do.” I want to have kids because I feel called to, and as of right now my husband and I are on the same page about not feeling that way. Yes, if we had a kid we would be fine and it would be great, but that is not the plan. I don’t say this to attack you but to show you another side and to advise you to be careful about saying this because of how hurtful and isolating it is to women like me and how it just perpetuates the idea that a woman is wrong if she does not have children, just like lots think women are wrong if they make decisions or have a job. When I read your comment, I thought to myself this is precisely the reason that the older I get, the more nervous I am about going to church and being around Christians.

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        I am sorry that my comments made you feel personally attacked. In the first one I specifically stated that this was true of the people in my own social circle, and in the second I mentioned that I was in no way saying that everyone who voluntarily did not have children was selfish. I certainly would not label a complete stranger such as yourself that way. I also don’t just include women, but men also in my assessment that western society as a whole has devalued children and become more self serving and it has had a dramatic effect on birthrate.

        As for your hesitation in attending church, I myself feel the same way and we frequently just stay home. I didn’t make my comment from a religious point of view, so much as just from my point of view as a person who has spoken to those who have chosen not to have children, and has also struggled with how selfless you truly have to be while raising kids (it’s crazy hard sometimes, especially for an introvert!). But please, even if you don’t go to church, don’t allow anyone’s comments – mine, a congregations, or anyone else – to turn you away from Christ. His love is all consuming, and it’s what I cling to when I feel disillusioned by religion.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          This is lovely, Lindsey. I’m always so glad when commenters can just have rational discussions in the comments section! Thank you.

          Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Lo, I get it. I do. And that’s wonderful that you want to pour your life into the football players. I think that’s a very high calling.

        The only thing I would say–and this isn’t to say that you’re wrong, only that it’s worth thinking about and counting the cost–is that often we don’t miss kids when we’re in our 20s, 30s, 40s, even 50s. But we do miss them in our 60s and 70s and 80s. Life can be very, very lonely for seniors when they have no younger family members. That’s not a good reason to have kids necessarily, but I just think it’s something we don’t always think about when we’re young. If you do think about it, and feel that you’re willing to sacrifice that because God is calling you to full-time ministry now with something else that will take all of your time, that’s great. It’s just part of counting the cost, that’s all.

        I hear you about church. I do. It’s been hard this year, for reasons that I’ll share one day soon, as I’ve had the veil lifted back for me. But I will also say that the richest and most significant relationships I have are with Christians. I read a really, really good article yesterday about how churches need to reframe the way we do church, and you may like it. It’s right here.

        Reply
  10. Nathan

    Many, many years ago (I think in the mid-90s), I read an article about the changing nature of summer vacation.

    It focused on one family with four kids that believed that “vacation” should be as busy as any other time, just with different activities. So the minute school was out, here comes soccer practice, piano lessons swimming lesson, dance, gymnastics, art classes, etc. and so on.

    They would get up at the crack of dawn each day, and drive around like crazy, trying to get every kid to every activity on time (they each had a different set of stuff), then they were surprised that they were so exhausted at the end of each day!

    Reply
  11. Nathan

    This was a small inside running gag on the Nick JR kids show “Jack’s Big Music Show”. At the opening, Jack’s mother (off screen) would tell that they don’t have much time before they need to go to…

    One of his MANY official activities. Soccer, trapeze, knitting, pilates, archery, swimming, there must have been over a dozen, when all Jack really wanted to do was hang out in his clubhouse and play music.

    Reply
  12. Nathan

    And, finally, I’ve heard that those gigantic “themed” birthday parties can cost hundreds of dollars.

    Reply
  13. EM

    I think one of the unfortunate side effects of social media is that we all feel like we need to be experts at everything. Mamas, you do you!!! I am a chef so I do cook the gourmet meals, because it makes me happy and it doesn’t stress me out. But I do not do a lot of crafts with my kids, or plan elaborate birthday parties, and I definitely don’t do PTA because I hate meetings! But I am so thankful for the moms who are great at those things. Just like the body of Christ, I think a community of moms is full of women with different gifts and abilities. Let’s all be awesome at the things we love and not worry about the rest. I think a great question to ask is, “Am I doing this because I (or my child) really loves it, or because I feel like I’m supposed to?”

    I’m also a minimalist when it comes to newborns. They don’t need nearly the gear you think they do. I’ve raised 4 without having a swing or baby seat or fancy stroller. They really do just need their mamas and some diapers. Made it much less stressful and expensive!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I never did crafts (except knitting! and both my girls knit, too!) or huge birthday parties either. But I totally love cooking.

      Reply
  14. Karen

    So true! I got burned out with going all over the place with my kids last year, and for 2019 I quit a bunch of stuff and have kept eliminating things until life became manageable. There is always dinner made, the laundry is always done, and we have hours of time to just be together each evening. Replacing formal activities with aggressively inviting friends over for after school play dates is a good way to get in the fun in a way that doesn’t overwork me (no mommy chauffeur) or mess with our evenings at home. Plus people know you really like them if they come to your house!

    Reply
    • Joanna Sawatsky

      I love this! I’m stashing this idea for when my daughter is older 🙂

      What a lovely way to build relationships, family togetherness, and practice hospitality. Amazing!

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Love that!

      Reply
  15. Wifey

    I was raised very simply as the homeschooled oldest of four. I never played sports because it took too much time away from family but guess what Bible quizzing, homeschool PE and choir was THE thing! It was a blast and less work. With once a month activities from our homeschool group, church Sunday and Wednesday, we had plenty of variety and friend time. One of my young sister in law’s co-op classmates figured how much his family spent on soccer (3 kids) in one year- $5,000! Heck no!

    My son is 11 months old tomorrow and he’s happiest eating dirt out of my flower pot on our apartment balcony. And I spend my time swatting it out of his hand and constructing elaborate chair forts to dissuade the activity. He loves watching neighbors walk their dogs, go around the neighborhood in his stroller and climb on everything. You don’t need to do it all to be a good mom. I had the best and she firmly believed it was a blessing to be bored and that being bored increased your creativity. As a result, all 4 of us kids are incredible and entertaining ourselves, a skill I hope to teach my own kiddos!

    Reply
  16. Elsie

    I agree with making parenting less stressful and pressure filled. You mentioned birthday parties in the post – my parents only had parties for us when we turned 8 and 13, so having them less often could be an option too (we still celebrated each year as a family and I didn’t mind not having a big party every year).

    I wanted to give some other thoughts about the declining birth rate. I don’t think it’s only due to a decline in religion but also for economic and structural reasons too. For example, daycare in the US can be tens of thousands of dollars a year so if both parents work, they have to consider that cost. Many of us millennials also have hefty student loans, which is the main reason why my husband and I haven’t had kids yet. We are still in such a tenuous financial position- if we had a kid now, we might never get back on our feet. Financial reasons aren’t always selfish- it costs a lot just for basic expenses for kids like feeding and clothing and many families struggle with that.

    For women who work, maternity leave policies in the US provide little time off, which also makes it hard to have more children. There is also no protection from pregnancy discrimination in many places and some employers refuse to make accommodations for pregnant women (I read a heartbreaking article about high rates of miscarriage in women who work manual labor jobs because their employers wouldn’t give them accommodations and they were too poor to stop working)

    So changes in your personal mentality are important but so are larger scale policy changes like providing paid parental leave and affordable child care

    Reply
    • Meghan

      I thought about maternity leave policies and student debt too, and I wonder how that plays in to the Canadian birth rate. They get a whole year off after childbirth and yet still have a low birth rate just like us! I wonder if taking this amount of time off is unofficially frowned upon by bosses. If women were hesitant to appear less committed to their job, I can see why they wouldn’t take advantage of such a generous leave policy.

      Reply
  17. Meghan

    Hmm, maybe this is why I actually enjoy motherhood – I don’t freak out about doing ALL THE THINGS!

    Yes, my 2-year-old daughter and I exercise together – I push her in the stroller during my long runs. We also go to fun community activities like farmer’s markets and festivals and whatnot. We’re out of the house a lot on the weekends just exploring the city and spending time together. I include her in chores and cooking, too.

    But the thing is, I do those things because we all enjoy them. My husband and I love taking her places and watching her interact with the world. We love snuggling on the couch together and reading books to her. We love how focused she gets on shaking the spices out of the jars and how determined she is to wipe every surface in our home with her damp cleaning rag. To us these things don’t add to the burden of parenthood, they make it all worthwhile.

    Then again, we also put her to bed in her own room at 7 sharp and have most evenings free to snuggle together on the couch. Plus every Friday we leave her in daycare just a bit longer so we can have a quick outside the house date. I think if that weren’t the case, it would be a lot harder to enjoy family time.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I think that including your kids in the every-day things is SO important–I see so often among my generation that moms feel they need to give their kids a perfect, child paradise kind of environment where the whole house rotates around baby. But what if kids don’t actually need a perfect nursery, but are also perfectly content going to do groceries with mom or banging on tupperware with wooden spoons while dinner is being made? 🙂

      I think that a lot of the stress of motherhood during the first year especially can come from feeling locked away from the rest of the world and other grown ups. That’s something that I’m really planning on combatting when baby is here–I think getting out and doing things can be such a huge mental relief (especially for extroverts like me).

      Reply
      • Ina

        My daughter has told me her favorite place in the world is the grocery store. Next is the library and then grandma’s house (the order seems backwards to me personally, but that’s what she said!) My other daughter used to love trying to put the lids on our food containers. You’re so right about what they need and really love- being around their parents day to day (bonus is that you train them to do chores early! )

        Reply
        • Meghan

          Yep, all my cherished childhood memories are just spending time with the people I loved. It didn’t matter so much what we did as long as we were together. Although we did do fun and interesting things, the point was the quality time.

          Favorite vacation: going to SeaWorld and touching a dolphin. It rained most of the time we were there but I didn’t care. I had my dad all to myself.

          Reply
      • Meghan

        Yes, I think so too. We really just do life together in our family and it’s been great. As she gets older and develops more interests, we’ll start incorporating those into the weekend plans, but for now she’s content to go along with Mommy and Daddy doing whatever we like to do together.

        Reply
  18. Theresa

    Amen! Preach it, sister! Sheila, I’m so glad to read your wise words today. I am one of the teachers of the Mom to Mom program that is used at churches throughout the United States and this is one of the BIGGEST lessons that we strive to impress upon the moms who participate. In fact, the lesson I presented just yesterday addressed this very issue because we have heard so many young moms say, “I love my kids, but I hate my life.” We discovered that the unrealistic expectations we place upon ourselves is one of the biggest things that steal our joy as moms. So, your column today is so very timely. I am going to send it out to the moms in my group.

    Sheila, thank you for the effort you pour into building up marriages and families. And thank you for the thoughtful resources you provide on the topic of sexuality and marriage. I enjoy recommending your web site to the ladies who participate in the Mom to Mom program.

    Reply
  19. Ina

    Yup! I agree with this message as both a mom and also as an Early Childhood Educator. Kids thrive on simplicity and so do most moms.

    I do want to take a moment to acknowledge that it can also feel just hard sometimes. The leap from being in control of my life to having to lay down my selfishness daily was – still is- hard. You can simplify all you want, but the very nature of how God made parenting a sanctifying process will make for some challenging days. And that’s okay.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely!

      Reply
  20. RNmom

    Thank you! Thank you! I really needed this article today. I was struggling with giving in to “more” for my kids and thinking I really needed to add to their lives in material ways and with “experiences” but I really think living life as it truly is helps them in the long run more than trying to provide all the extras. Kids need to appreciate the mundane, enjoy a schedule, figure out how to entertain themselves and fill their time wisely instead of crying about being bored and expecting big things. Real life is not always extravagant and if we give our kids everything and only the best we are setting them up to be disappointed incontent and always searching for more. I want to teach them to value the everyday joys of life and find pleasure in the small things. I don’t want them all wrapped up in chasing happiness that they can’t see the small stuff. You said it better but I agree! I want to be a mom whose love and joy was her greatest gift not her wallet.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep! You know what else I think kids need that used to be enough but no one does anymore?

      READ A BOOK.

      Seriously. I spent my life reading books. I even read through the children’s section at our little neighbourhood library when I was 9 1/2. There was nothing else to read. But that used to be enough for kids, and books are so precious, and I think every kid would benefit from reading more. Even if they can’t read on their own because of dyslexia or something, read out loud! It’s a gift that we’ve lost.

      Reply
  21. Arwen

    Another excuse i hear around me is women saying they don’t want kids because they grew up in broken homes and they don’t want to repeat that lifestyle. However i truly believe that’s an excuse to be selfish. Because what they do in order not to repeat their broken home is go on lavish vacations, cruises, expensive apartments, get expensive jobs, live in expensive neighborhoods, etc. nothing about their life tells me they’re seeking therapy, reading books, blogs, pertaining to their issues. They’re using their broken past as an excuse for being “lovers of themselves.”

    For me personally 2 children are perfect. That’s how many i want. One boy and one girl, i’m willing to compromise on additional child if i end up with two of the same genders. I love this article so much. Going to pin it to my Parenting, tab.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I grew up in a broken home, and it made me adamant that I would not repeat it! So I made it my mission to be the best mom I could be (my mom was actually a great mom, too. it was my dad who walked out. But I was determined to have a good marriage!)

      Reply
  22. Meghan

    Unrelated question: I’m new around here. I figured I’d get an email notification if someone responded to my comment but that didn’t happen. Is there a better way to keep up with conversations other than refreshing the page and searching my name?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Meghan, I think there may have once been a way to subscribe to comments but we’ve gotten rid of so many plugins to try to make the site run faster because there’s so much traffic, etc. I’ll see if we can put that plugin back. Thanks!

      Reply
      • Meghan

        That would be great, thank you.

        Reply
  23. Sheila Wray Gregoire

    Nobody’s commented on my 9th birthday party photos! I expected SOMETHING….:)

    Reply
    • Lindsey

      I thought it looked like fun. We almost never had birthday parties growing up, and my kids don’t have them. We may eat a meal with family, and I normally make them whatever dessert they want, Some years we may buy them a little something, and other years we may not. But no big parties. There’s really no need, and in very young children it can increase entitlement.

      Reply
    • Chloe

      I noticed the smiles. You can always tell in a picture if a kid is having a good time, and it looks like you certainly were. Those pictures have also held up pretty well over the years. I was raised in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s as well, and all my childhood photos have that reddish tint.😂

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I’m glad someone noticed! 🙂 I did have good friends back then, in my small house, with small things. It was enough.

        Reply
  24. Annie

    Motherhood is as hard as we choose to make it on ourselves, and one area that I am constantly fighting to simplify is meal time. It has been an interesting study for me to live a vast chunk of my life in different countries in asia versus living for periods of time in America, the melting pot. Not only are my culinary tastes pretty diversified from travel, but America offers endless options for international food, which we all get used to as normal daily eats (because what really IS American food?). So as far as being the cook of the family goes, I get overwhelmed much of the time because I feel as if I need to be an expert chef in Chinese food, Italian food, Indian food, Thai food, etc etc. whereas most of the countries I have lived in have a set of maybe 20 dishes that are “theirs”. They grow up eating them every day. They learn how to make them and make them well. And no one expects to eat Indian food one night, Chinese stir fried rice the next, lasagne the next night, etc. Planning and shopping for all this is also time consuming. So I do try to pick a set ten to fifteen dishes that I rotate in a month. I have tried having the same meal every night for a week. I have tried the seven meals for seven days. But nothing really ever seems to work.

    Also on choosing not to mother or have children, google “couples choosing to have pets over children” and you will find articles from all over the world describing this same phenomenon in wealthy countries. It seems once a developing country gets past its initial years of struggle (where big families were needed to get work done), and then finally reaches a place of economic prosperity- statistically a lot of these countries have falling birth rates but soaring pet ownership rates as human babies are replaced by fur-babies.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Wow, Annie, I’d never actually thought of that before! But you’re right. I’m always trying to learn how to make authentic Indian cuisine, or El Salvadoran enchiladas, or real Mexican fajitas. I don’t feel like I have an actual cuisine myself. I think the people who make amazing Indian food likely grow up cooking only that. Wow, I can’t even imagine that. But you’re right.

      Reply
      • Annie

        It’s also insanely expensive to keep all these international ingredients stocked. It’s a losing battle. 😂. The end result is that I’m a mediocre cook across several genres and not a great, efficient, don’t-need-to-look-at-a-recipe cook in one primary one

        Reply
        • Arwen

          Annie, it’s sounds like you have this thing called, decision fatigue. Look it up and read up on it. It’s an interesting thing that we modern people struggle with because of the privileges technology has afforded us. Once you look up that term you can make some changes to your life so you’re not exhausted by the end.

          Reply
        • Arwen

          Also, Annie, did you read the article in NY of women wanting to be told happy mother’s day for being fur parents? Notice how it’s women that want this not men. No sane man wants to hear happy father’s day for having a pet python! Loool! Cracks me up! Humans can only be parents of other humans. No ifs or buts. Sometimes i say to myself, like Scar, in the Lion King, “I’m surrounded by idiots!”

          Reply
      • Cynthia

        I cook a few different types of ethnic food, but it’s always my interpretation of it – which means that I’m using ingredients that I can obtain in Canada even in winter, and that I’m a busy working mom with modern appliances but without a lot of patience.

        So….I like Italian food, but I don’t grow my own tomatoes and then can them and make my own sauce in the garage (which is what my husband’s Italian patients do). I like Indian food, but cook it in slightly different ways that take less time and just use spices that already come in a grinder bottle. I like a traditional Iraqi dish that I learned from my husband’s aunt, but her recipe has about 20 steps and takes hours, while I prepare mine in a slow cooker in about 5 min.

        My family is Canadian enough that I’ve picked up some “caker” habits, like using a can opener. http://cakercooking.blogspot.com/p/caker-faqs.html

        Reply
  25. Lydia purple

    I think one of the main problems is that nowadays motherhood is defined as a job (with an endless to do list) rather a relationship – and not just any relationship but probably the most profound and life altering one besides marriage.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Absolutely true!

      Honestly, I know it’s not true for everyone, but if I had to name my three best friends (other than my spouse), the ones I go to when I most need to talk, I would say my mother and my two daughters. I can’t imagine my life without them. They make my life so much richer.

      The benefits of motherhood don’t stop when the kids grow up; they increase! (speaking as someone who is going to become a grandma any day now!)

      Reply
  26. Chris

    We do put way too much pressure on moms. But i think we put way too much pressure on people to get married in the first place. Marriage is not a prereq for salvation. Singles can do so many and wonderful things that married people cannot do. I come from a faith tradition that teaches that getting married with the intent of not having children is profaning the sacrament. Its so sad to see this childless view becoming more.

    Reply
  27. Becca

    This comment section made me kind of sad. It’s disturbing how many women still judge other women so harshly for having no children or just one or two. People have a long list of reasons for what they choose. I only have two children. Stress on the ONLY. I am part of the homeschooling community and if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “you couldn’t understand because you ONLY have two kids” or “I couldn’t imagine having ONLY two kids” or even, “wow ive never met another homeschooler like you with ONLY two kids,” or “everything must be so easy for you since you ONLY have the two kids.”
    It wasn’t a selfish choice and it had nothing to do with money. It was a health decision. I hemorrhaged severely after giving birth, had to have surgery, and was advised strongly by my doctors that having another child could be dangerous. So we chose not to have more children, so that I could, Lord willing, remain here to take care of the ONLY two I have. And yes, I’ve been told by other women that I’m not trusting God, that I should just have more and if I pass away then that’s His will. But you know, I also believe God provides good doctors for us as well. And we chose to take the advice of the doctors. I used to get upset about all the judgement, but I’ve learned to live my life and not worry so much what others think.
    Just went back and reread the comments to make sure I wasn’t misinterpreting. Several women said that people who only have one or two children are self centered, selfish, and looking for more money. Sorry ladies but that is incredibly judgmental. That makes me sad.

    Reply
    • Lindsey

      Hi Becca,

      First of all, I want to tel you how very sorry I am that you’ve suffered what you have: first of all with your health, but also with people telling you that you should ignore wise counsel, intentionally endanger your own life (which one could consider to be “testing God”), and communicated that they believed your decision not to do so was a lack of faith. That’s hurtful, and it’s also theologically ignorant.

      I am not sure if some comments have been deleted, but I didn’t see one where someone said that people who only have one or two kids are self-centered or out for money (although I did see where it was stated that people may not be able to afford more that one or two due to the cost of living).

      I don’t believe that people who have more kids are automatically less selfish than those who have less kids (or even no kids!). To be honest, I feel like I was a much better mom when I had two kids than I am to four – or at least it was easier to be a better mom.

      I did comment and say that the people in my own social circle who had chosen not to have kids were more “intrinsically selfish”, (which, in hindsight I guess I should have said “much more accepting or their self-centeredness” because we are all, by nature, intrinsically selfish) but I want to clarify – again – that this is based on my own social circle, and not my indictment over everyone who doesn’t have children. I also think that there is a strong correlation between a self-centered society and a declining birthrate, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who has less kids or remains childless is self centered.

      If my comments made you feel attacked, I am truly sorry, they were in no way a personal attack against anyone. Especially one who’s circumstances are unknown to me.

      I hope you find abundant joy raising your two blessings.

      Reply
  28. Emmy

    One of the hardest things for me as a young mother was…Church! If I could do it all over again I would leave that church denomination immediately and go somewhere where they allow moms to be moms and babies to be babies.

    Moms were supposed to be, first and for all, committed church goers, and just like the proverbial “cleanlines next to godlines”, being a Good Housewife (with emphasis on the house) was our next special reason to exist. The HOUSE was supposed to be clean and in order, because at any moment, people may drop by, and our HOUSE was our testimony. It was the centre of hospitality. A messy house meant you were messy inside and your LIFE was not in ORDER.

    If you had children, the main thing for them was DISCIPLINE. Seen but not heard. They were supposed to eat on schedule, drink on schedule, sleep on schedule, poop and pee on schedul…so that Mom the Housewife could do her Household Chores effectively without being disturbed by “spoiled” children.

    The worst memories I have are about my babies abd toddlers. Breast feeding was a night mare because you were spposed to do it very discreetly, in the back room of the nursery…but that should not take too long, because you should not miss the church service too much. Or you could use a blanket. Only, none of my (undisciplined and spoiled) babies would eat under a blanket.

    No wonder why so many mothers turned to formula when the started visiting church again, after giving birth.

    There was no time for such things as hobbies for the children. No. The only hobby we had as a family was Church. I sill regret it so much. All of our kids had some special talents but they hardly got any chance to develop them. Only those that had interests such as drawing, something that you could do at home, had a chance to become good at it. The others had to wait until they were big enough to pursue for their interests themselves.

    I agree, it was very, very hard to be a mother. Too hard. And I even did not have a job.

    Reply
  29. Natalie

    One of the benefits of being a fairly recent transplant to the middle of nowhere & having no mommy friends is that I have no one locally to compare myself to or who will compare themselves to me. Having 2 under 2 is stressful enough; it’s the time in life when sleeping for a straight 7-8 hours is the stuff dreams are made of! I don’t have time to worry about whether or not others think I’m doing a good enough job. My husband and family think I am, I think I’m doing well enough, my kids are thriving & that’s what matters to me. If there’s one thing I learned in high school when I took all AP & IB classes & did every single extracurricular category imaginable to get into college (of which I only got into 1 by the way, even with a 4.4GPA!), it’s that “C’s get degrees” and that philosophy applies to SO much of life!!! Stressing over attaining perfection (or close to it) is a SERIOUS waste of your time. Plus, you forget to smell the roses along the way when you’re that stressed. Life is too short for stuff like that.

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  30. Natalie

    Here’s something y’all might enjoy. This is how I roll into Toddler Time at our church each Thursday at 10am (always 10:05-10:10 for me, except with toddler on one hip and baby in the baby carrier on the other arm). HOT MESS!!!

    https://youtu.be/tOQViEZOwGk

    Reply
  31. Gina

    What an honest review of a sacred calling! In a world where everything we do seems like it must be Facebook and Instagram worthy, the pressure of trying to be perfect is absolutely crushing! It’s no wonder that so many people struggle with depression and mental health issues. When we try to find our worth by what we do, like being a perfect mother, we will always fall short. We have to make the choice to eliminate striving and create acceptance. It’s a much more peaceful place to live!

    Reply
  32. Mienkie

    I love this post! As a mum with 2 little girls, 2 years and 8 months old.
    My biggest pet peeve is how movies/tv portray parenthood as a never ending cycle of sleeplessness, dirty nappies, and hungry babies with little or no rewards.
    Of course initially a new baby requires night feeding, and small kids are very busy and into everything and it’s tiring and sometimes very lonely.
    But if I could give any advice that I’ve learned, enjoy the madness while it lasts, create a schedule and stick to it, kids crave stability and routines. It’ll help your kids be more settled and help you cope and catch a breath.
    Coming from a farming community with lots of older mentors happy to share parenting advice; a basic lifestyle in a stable home with loving a parent/parents is the best gift you can give to your babies.

    Reply
  33. Mary

    I am a 33 year old mom of 1 child, not planning to have any more. I will share that my reasons are mostly selfish-I want to be able to work, without neglecting my child; I want to be able to put lots of time into my husband (whose primary language is quality time) without neglecting my child; I want to be able to give my child the best training/ education that I can; etc. Going along with those, I want to preserve my body for my husband. Maybe I shouldn’t care and he shouldn’t care what it would look like after more kids, but I’m just trying to make the point that yes, I’m in the selfish camp, but my selfish reasons are also others-centered at the same time. I do feel that the way my husband is, he is pretty all-consuming. It kind of feels like I couldn’t manage BOTH pleasing him AND caring for multiple kids. I already make him mad when 1 child’s needs come up at a time when he wants me to be available for him. Plus another element missing today that used to be there long ago was grand parents. Today grandparents are not always available to give tired moms a break. And we have to be so careful due to our oversexualized society, there are not many people we can trust to leave our child with.

    Reply

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