parent opinion

PARENTING CONFESSION: 'I would prefer to hold my smart phone than hold my baby.'

"The truth is, I never wanted children."

When Kate* makes this confession, she knows what people will think. 

They’ll think she doesn’t love her kids. That she’s not maternal. But Kate does love her kids. She doesn’t regret having them either. 

It’s just that having three children is a huge struggle for Kate. 

"I would prefer to hold my smart phone than hold my baby," Kate admits. 

Watch: Is Melatonin Safe For Kids To Use. Post continues after the video.

"There are only so many times I can sing 'Hot Potato' or read 'Where is the Green Sheep?'" shares Kate. "I missed my friends. I missed travelling. I missed adult conversations."

"I miss having a salary, the freedom to travel and not being bound by time constraints when it comes to socialising. 

"Now I experience clock-watching anxiety if I have arranged a babysitter to attend an event.

"When my kids were little, I really missed filling my car up with fuel without having a moral dilemma of 'do I leave them in the car?' or take all 3 kids into the servo to pay for my fuel. 

"I also missed driving. Alone. Without an orchestra of screaming, fighting, whinging or strange animal sounds, drowned by a million questions about why the moon is not getting bigger if we are moving forward."


Then there was her career. 

"I loved working. From face-to-face connection with customers, problem solving and achieving results, my workplace was family not to mention the freedom to travel the world whenever leave was approved."

She knows how she sounds. As though she doesn’t like her kids. As though she resents them. But she does like her kids. She loves them. 

It’s that combination of deep love for your children, with a deep dislike of motherhood, that can prompt further destructive feelings of immense guilt, which can spiral into depression, further exacerbating the state of discontent. 

"I would experience waves of 'Mum-Guilt' knowing how important it was to bond and connect with my children," she says. 

With all three of her pregnancies, Kate says she felt like a zombie.

"An empty shell. Tired. Exhausted and depressed."

Kate says she still enjoys time with her children though, just not all the time. 

"I enjoy moments with my children that are filled with shared laughter, conversations, hugs, watching them explore the world and discover who they are. 

"This feeling of enjoyment is a very balanced feeling, mixed with multiple, non-enjoyable feelings."

It’s more common than you think. 

"I've worked with plenty of women who don't always enjoy motherhood. I commonly hear that it can be mundane, boring, isolating and disconnecting; it can feel overwhelming, and all consuming," says clinical psychologist, Phoebe Rogers. 

"Many mothers I work with struggle with losing their sense of self and identity, particularly their work, which gives them a sense of competence and worth."


But although it’s common, Rogers says most women feel pressured to push those feelings to the side. 

"It's one of those life milestones that's viewed as an ultimate experience, one that should bring lots of joy. 

"I know mothers who have felt shame, and often this shame is more internalised than external. Not enjoying every moment of motherhood can be perceived as a failure, often by the individual suffering, and this can be reinforced by well-intentioned but often hurtful comments from other mothers, partners, and friends."

It’s critical to remember, though, that not enjoying mother is separate to how you feel about your children.

"You can both struggle with the burdens of motherhood, and love your children incredibly -- those feelings can and do exist together for many women, and it is completely normal. Love is really in the action of showing up for your child as much as you can, and normalising seeking support. It does take a village."

What needs to change. 

Kate believes we need to create a culture adopted through work, education, and health care systems to prioritise a mother’s care. 

"Children need healthy and happy parents and a community that teaches more self-awareness and encouragement to express feelings safely," she says. 

"We live in a world where comparison is a given and doors are opened for judgement. For example, Naplan showcases the ‘best schools’ and mothers' group members compare how their babies perform, using the language percentiles, and 'my kid does this, and my kid does that'.

"All that matters to me is that children are mentally healthy, happy and have the freedom to explore and experience the world in loving and supportive ways."


To combat her spiralling depression, Kate put her energy into creating her own business, Feeding Friend. To combat, she created feeding friends. 

"I was in a terrible downward spiral of depression, and it was my lifeline to research my business. The truth is, my business became fuel for my brain. I needed a hobby, a project, anything to remind me of who I was before becoming a mother. 

"I was also on a mission to break generation cycles of ‘children first’, by creating a movement of parents who deeply understood the positive impacts it has on our children, when we take care of ourselves first. My business has been a daily reminder to take care of myself and has contributed towards my divorce.

"It gave me a purpose. A mission. A goal. It fuelled my inner self-driven, intelligence which reminded me of who I was before I became a mother."

Kate believes maintaining focus on oneself is not only beneficial to mothers, but their children as well. 

"I make my morning routines non-negotiable. I prioritise myself first, and my children benefit by receiving the best version of me. I talk about my feelings. A lot and encourage my kids to be bored. This opens them up to creativity, expression and healthy conversations about all feelings that arise."

Rogers agrees. 

"It is these acts of self-care that support you to be the best version of yourself for your children. Whether that is your social life, friendships, career, couple relationship, or hobbies; your capacity to show up for your family is strengthened by your own self-care."

Feature image: Getty.

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