Maybe Mum

For all the Maybe Mums out there wondering whether motherhood is for them

Doubting Motherhood: How Do You Find Your Way?

Doubting Motherhood: How Do You Find Your Way?

“How do you find your way when you’re unsure about motherhood?” This is the question Susan asks herself. She wrote a guest blog about it for my Dutch blog Twijfelmoeder. Here’s the translation. “For a long time, I doubted motherhood. Until unexpectedly, I became pregnant while on birth control. Despite our doubts, it seemed my husband and I were going to become parents. Unfortunately, the pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. This gave us the opportunity to make a conscious decision about parenthood.”

Feeling doesn’t exist

“Making that choice was very difficult for both of us. Neither my husband nor I have what is often referred to as the ‘instinct.’ That feeling people mention when asked why they actually want children or wanted them back then: ‘the feeling.’ For me, this feeling still doesn’t exist, and it became a conscious choice to pursue parenthood, if it was granted to us.

Perhaps you can relate to this and have doubts about whether or not to embark on motherhood. Know that you are not alone.

I confess, I am a Maybe Mum!

I’m a Maybe Mum

From the moment I discovered I was pregnant four years ago, the Maybe Mum in me was awakened. And it hasn’t subsided since. On one hand, I had (and still have) doubts about motherhood and the significant challenge of guiding a new little person towards independence. On the other hand, there were also many doubts and uncertainties about the pregnancy itself: whether it was going well, whether the baby was healthy, whether my body could handle it, and so on. Something that many women who have experienced a miscarriage or other form of pregnancy loss can probably relate to.

Tough & valuable

The pregnancy, with its ups and downs, ended well, and my husband and I now have a beautiful and curious four-year-old who imitates us in everything and questions everything. It’s an exceptionally educational challenge that I sometimes find very tough but also incredibly valuable.

Find your way through you doubts

So, my husband and I ultimately decided to, despite our doubts, give it another chance. However, making this conscious choice didn’t make the doubts disappear. And because I know I’m not the only one, I’m happy to share my story and especially some tips on how you can find your way through your doubts.

Discuss doubts

You might be a bit of an odd one out in your surroundings, but you’re not alone; there are many other women who don’t have that ‘instinct’ programmed as standard. In my surroundings, I was able to partially discuss my doubts. With some good friends, I could have open and honest conversations about this and also hear their considerations. With others, this wasn’t possible. Reactions quickly turned to the ‘instinct,’ and it was also mentioned that it was selfish if I didn’t want children. Or that I wasn’t normal. And also that it was just the intention that you reproduce. I found it striking that the people who made the last, quite hurtful comments often couldn’t name their own motivation for choosing to have children, except for the feeling.

Nothing wrong with feelings

Now, there’s nothing wrong with feelings. I’ll be the last one to tell you to ignore your feelings. Feelings are incredibly valuable. Many of the women I’ve guided have made choices and led their lives in a way that ultimately leads to stagnation by suppressing their own feelings. But besides feelings, you’ve also been given reason, the ability to think and reason. Also very valuable. And the combination of feeling and reason, that’s gold. With that, you can make considered choices. You probably won’t know for sure if the choice is the best one, but you do make a choice based on multiple aspects.

How to approach that?

There are two exercises I have people do in such cases, which I then discuss further. I didn’t come up with these exercises myself, but I made them my own through previous work thanks to wise colleagues. You can use them to make choices about motherhood, but they are also applicable for other choices.

  1. Make a list of motives, pros, and cons for having or not having a child. Take a sheet of paper and make two columns. One column is for ‘having a child,’ and the other is for ‘not having a child.’ Write down everything that comes to mind that plays a role in making a choice. Be open and honest with yourself about this. When you’ve written everything down, go through the list again. Maybe you’ll already come to a decision for one or the other based on your list. If not, you can assign values to the reasons. Then you can question yourself or have yourself questioned by your partner or a good friend about this. In a counseling session, I usually delve deeper into the considerations and motives or any fears or beliefs behind certain reasons.
  2. Empathize with both situations as much as possible. Take two average days for this exercise. Spend one day imagining you want a child and the other day imagining you don’t want a child. Make this as realistic as possible for yourself. So engage in conversations, do certain activities that you would or wouldn’t do in each situation to give yourself an impression of what such a choice might do to you. This is often a somewhat more challenging exercise because it requires a lot of empathy and imagination.”

Photo Pexels: foto/vrouw-zittend-op-wit-bed-3694016/- pexels-cottonbro-studio-3694016.jpg – My English is not very good, so I’m translating this with the help of Google Translate and ChatGPT.