Regretting Motherhood As a Counter-Narrative Towards Therapeutic Cultures of Motherhood
In the data, women who express regretting motherhood compare their emotions and actions with the cultural narrative of intensive mothering. The narratives lay out how in current cultural understanding of motherhood, it is acceptable to talk about the temporary difficulties of motherhood. Thus negative emotions, such as exhaustion and frustration, may be expressed. Expressing these feelings are entangled with therapeutic cultures, which promise that even though motherhood is complex and sometimes difficult, one can overcome these problems by talking about them and by (professional) help. The promise of therapeutic culture is that eventually, the love one feels towards one’s child makes all the negative emotions and hard labour worth it. This is what we call therapeutic understanding of motherhood. However, the women who express regretting motherhood neglect the therapeutic promise of overcoming negative feelings. Instead they build their own counter-narrative - where their regret is an embodied experience, a permanent state, where non-motherhood could be described even as an identity.