Why I never wanted to be a mother

I remember thinking "is there an option for me to be a dad"?

I remember thinking "is there an option for me to be a dad"? Photo: Stocks

I was never going to be a mother. Because, why would anyone want to do that?

After a decade working in business I know how to put together a cost/benefit analysis, and the business case for motherhood just doesn't stack up.

For starters, it's an industrial relations nightmare. No sick pay, no penalty rates, no holiday pay. Who am I kidding, it's no pay. Full stop. And the hours are horrendous.

And motherhood is about 80 per cent domestic work. I didn't like doing domestic work before I had kids. Why would I suddenly start loving it after I had them?

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I just could not work out, for the life of me, who in their right mind would choose to clean up bodily fluids, without pay and without any social recognition.

Still, people do it. And some people, they do it again.

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that I didn't want children. I desperately wanted to have my own children.

It was just the whole motherhood part of the deal that I struggled with. I remember thinking, "Is there an option for me to be a dad?"

Because that would have been a no brainer for me. I could have my own kids, go to work and have leisure time without guilt, shame or judgement. And I wouldn't be in any danger of peeing myself in Coles.

When men have kids, they get to add to their identity. They're still all things they were before, plus they get to be a father. But mothers tend lose all the things we were before.

I noticed this as soon as I'd given birth. The nurses in the hospital started calling me "mum" instead of "Kasey". Sure, I know they're busy, and finding out patients' names takes time, but they seem to manage it in every other ward in the hospital.

And this namelessness follows you long after you've been discharged from the maternity ward. Faster than you can say "fully dilated", I went from being a writer to a "mummy blogger". Women who do paid work become "working mothers" on the mummy track.  I've never actually met a "working father". If you're hot, you become a "yummy mummy".

When I was writing my pros and cons list for motherhood I was also acutely aware that motherhood is a lot harder than it used to be. I mean sure, we now have washing machines and two-minute noodles, but in past generations, if your kid was alive by bedtime, that was good day.  A job well done.

These days we have to worry about emotional intelligence and resilience, and screen time, hidden sugars, and deciding whether Shopkins are evil or a highly sophisticated comment on consumer culture in late capitalism.  

But I came to the conclusion that there was no way around this motherhood situation. If I wanted kids — if I wanted to experience the love, the bond, the sense of meaning and pride that you get when you're a parent — then motherhood was an unavoidable consequence of that.

So here I am; a fully signed up member to the motherhood club.

And one thing I'd like to say about mothers this Mother's Day, is that I've never met a mother who isn't doing the very best job she can. But I also have never met a mother who doesn't feel, at least part of the time, that her best isn't good enough.

"I shouldn't have lost my temper."

"I should be more 'present'."

"I shouldn't have rushed through the bedtime story."

"I shouldn't have allowed so much TV/sugar/salt/fat/toys/attitude."

And there is a whole chorus of voices who will reinforce our sense of inadequacy. From medical professionals, parenting "experts", politicians, relatives and even complete strangers, everyone has an opinion on what we are doing wrong.

We're made to feel insecure and then portrayed as pack of petty bitches fighting in some ridiculous "mummy war".

I love my kids more than I have words to say, but I do struggle with the day-to-day grind of raising them.

But what saves me, what keeps me going, what picks me up when I fall, is other mothers.

When I'm exhausted, frustrated, bored, and terrified, it is other mothers who give me that knowing and sympathetic smile.

They will say exactly what I need to hear, such as, "That wasn't your fault, it could have happened to anybody," or "My kid does that too," or  "Sure, Twisties are a vegetable."

And that's what Mother's Day is about for me this year; recognising and appreciating the mothering community.  It's about saying to other mothers, "Thanks for having my back."

Because motherhood would be so much harder without you.

Kasey Edwards is the author of Thirty-Something and the Clock is Ticking: What happens when you can no longer avoid the baby question. www.kaseyedwards.com