How I Decided That Motherhood Is Not For Me – Deborah Tan

With Mother’s Day just over, it seems a bit harsh that I’m blogging about why I believe motherhood is not for me. But this is an issue that I have long struggled with and, have been meaning to talk about for some time.

First, do let me state that I have nothing but respect for mothers. I recognise it is a tough job and, more often than not, one filled with heartaches, tears and frustrations. Second, even though I cringe whenever a child shrieks in public, I do not hate kids. Third, whatever I’m about to share is neither a reaction towards nor a reflection of my friends and family. Lastly, what I’m sharing here is about me and my own body and, I do not expect anyone to follow my lead.

Why do I not want to take on the “ultimate role” most women were supposedly “born to assume”?

At 28, I realised I’m missing a maternal bone in my body when I felt nothing while friends spoke about their biological clocks ticking away. Five years on, pregnancy, the idea of a human being growing inside my body, is still a fearsome image made up of ballooning bellies, swollen feet, constant physical exhaustion and unpredictable emotional upheavals. Knowing that my body would never be the same again post-pregnancy makes the concept even more unpalatable.

To me, pregnancy is not something any celebrity photo or any romance story can make better. Innately, I am wired to focus on the negative aspects of being a pregnant woman. While some see happiness and glow, I can only see varicose veins and acne attacks.

Pregnancy is hard work. Carrying a baby for 40 weeks is hard work. Having to deal with all that weight gain while worrying if your husband is going to lose interest in you is hard work. And I’m just not strong enough to go through with it.

The second reason why I could  never be a mother is because I value my independence way too much. Alone, my life is my own. With a family, my life becomes a juggling act. I don’t want to have to choose between staying late at work and going home to tuck my child in. Yes, supermoms exist but it’s not what I want to be. In my eyes, there’s no way I can excel in one without compromising on the other.

If I screw up my career, I bear the consequence. If I screw up as a mother, it’s my children who will eventually suffer.

There are sacrifices involved too. Sacrifices that I’m too selfish to make. I cannot see myself giving up a large chunk of my salary to enrichment classes, nappies, clothes, vitamins and, medicine. I don’t want to give up my me-time so I can sit by my child’s side and help him prepare for his exams. I don’t want to spend my Saturday afternoons with other mothers talking about tuition teachers and swimming coaches.

Shaping a child and ensuring that he grows up to be a good person is a project that takes so much from a mother. And, I know I have little to give.

Motherhood may be the most beautiful and wonderful thing to happen to a woman but I don’t want it. I don’t want it because it  is probably the only project that I will ever make a royal mess of. If there is one good thing that I can do as a human being, it is that I really don’t try to bring a child into this world. Doing a bad job as a mother is worse than not becoming one at all.

To all mothers who have given so much of yourselves to bringing up kids who have loved you, who have done the silliest things that made you mad, who have broken your hearts and, who have given back so little, you deserve nothing less than the best.

And this is one job I know – for some years now – that I won’t be able to do as well as my mother and my grandmother have.

Happy Mother’s Day again to all of you.

2 Responses to “How I Decided That Motherhood Is Not For Me – Deborah Tan”
  1. Liy Othman says:

    Deborah, I applaud your courage in writing this. Finally! A woman who admits that she doesn’t want to be a mother! :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Its awesome to stayed true to self. Stay strong and chase your dreams.

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