Mothers never regret being mothers? Yea, right.
Via Pandagon, I learned of this execrable forced-birth apologism site, Checkmate, Pro-Choicers! Now, I use “Checkmate, atheists!” pretty much constantly, so there’s the possibility it’s an excellent example of Poe’s Law, but the consensus is that it’s legit. Aside from the usual misinformation and specious reasoning, there’s this gem:
Mothers are not allowed to express that they regret motherhood anymore than women who get abortions (who are, 60% of the time, mothers) are allowed to divulge that wow, what a relief it was to stop being pregnant. Emotions that are socially unacceptable may stay hidden, but they don’t disappear. They do sometimes get expressed in other ways.
I’ve mentioned before that I was raised by Scientologist parents. Scientology is actually against abortion. Although El Ron moonlighted as an abortion doctor for his wife (according to his son), he wrote that most people have engrams (traumatic experiences) related to attempted, but typically failed, abortions. Yea, he thought women were just crazy about having self-abortion-themed me-parties that were scarring the thetans of millions of people.
Enter my mother. When she was about my age, she had two abortions. It’s hard to imagine myself preggers this young, so I have an inkling of what she must have felt like and why she made the choices she did. Looking at it objectively, she made a tough choice after careful consideration of her options, opting to wait more than a decade to have children when she was more mature, more sure of herself, more financially stable, and with a dedicated co-parent. I’m very happy that she made the choices she did, because it meant I had a near-idyllic early childhood (events outside of her control were to change that when I was in elementary school, but all things considered, my formative years are halcyon dreams that haunt me).
Still. She feels tremendous guilt even today for making the choices she did. She didn’t find scientology until her early thirties, several years after she terminated her pregnancies. And in scientology, she learned a few things that have left her with a profound, and undeserved, sense of guilt over the choice she made: that babies choose their bodies and their parents before they are born; that abortions damage the psyche of a thetan; and that harmful engrams manifest in physical and emotional problems in life.
Oh, and did I mention I was a terror, a difficult child, could drive a saint crazy, throwing enormous tantrums that in retrospect, were probably largely related to my chronic pain disorder and my sense that I was “not like other girls” so how dare they ask me to be quiet and pleasant and sweet?
Over the years, she has told me many times that she regrets her abortion, but it’s a way of saying she regrets having me. She believes she aborted me, that I was trying to be born through her 25 year old body, and I am not only profoundly angry with her for preventing me from being born when I wanted to be, from being the age I wished I was, but she made me sick.
I love her, and although it hurt to be told this when I was twelve, or sixteen, or twenty-one, or last Monday, I forgive her. Or at least, I try to. She did her best to not let that repressed regret and profound ambivalence for motherhood interfere with the choices she made every day to live up to a very high standard she set for herself, a conviction that children deserve at least one person who is always available for them.
When it comes down to it, regret isn’t so much for the choices we did make but for the ones we didn’t. Women who say “I regret my abortion,” are really saying, “I regret the life I have, and like to imagine that I would be much happier if I’d had a different child at a different time, perhaps with a different man.” But women aren’t allowed to regret choices they made that conform to patriarchy; hell, women in this country had to fight tooth and nail for the right to divorce the husbands we chose to marry, and there’s plenty of folks out there that would like to roll back the clock.
We aren’t even allowed to regret things – like becoming a woman – that were entirely out of our control, and certainly not permitted to seek to remedy it. And I was literally taught that I had chosen a female fetus to assume. Most people are just taught something vague about how God stitched their chromosomes in the womb and has grand plans for your lady parts. So when we do get to regret something, all that extra pent-up grief for another life not lived pours into it. “I regret my abortion” is not really about regretting an abortion: it’s about regretting everything else.
I don’t want to regret being a mother, which is why I am sticking with the choice I made at age 13 to be childfree. I wouldn’t want to put a child through what I went through growing up. I’d much rather be a parent to the many kids that are already here. I’d much rather find a new mother and be a dad. I just hope I don’t wake up at age 50 wanting to force other people to give birth because I regret the children I didn’t have.