Ann Talks About the Pain of Motherhood Ambivalence with ABC News Australia

abc news article australia forging a path motherhood resources May 04, 2020

Forging a path through the agony of motherhood ambivalence

By Samantha Selinger-Morris


For 10 years, Tory Shepherd felt plagued by an uneasy feeling that stalked her, like a watchful cat. Should she have children? Or not?

For as long as the Adelaide-based journalist could remember, she'd never wanted to become a mother.

But as she grew up, started her career and got married, people in her life began to voice their opinions.

There was her mother, who joked about switching her contraceptive pill with sugar pills, and her husband who, despite initially agreeing with her about not wanting children, later decided he wanted to be a parent.

Along with comments from others, they made Shepherd, now 43, wonder if she was, perhaps, "just a little bit f***ed in the head".

"I thought, maybe ... my little brain has just been messing with me, and if I just do it like everyone says, I'll be happy," says Shepherd.

This ambivalence, as experts call it, is an experience women are increasingly willing to admit.

But the ability to voice it isn't making it easier for many to unravel the tricky feelings that come with it. Nor are complicating factors like reproductive technology, stubborn stereotypes about women who don't want children, environmental problems, and now, on top of it all, the coronavirus.

"I think there's more permission to not know," says Ann Davidman, a self-proclaimed "motherhood clarity mentor", who counsels people through their ambivalent feelings from her office in California.

"I think that the younger generation feels like they truly have an option, they just don't know how to think about it."(Click to continue reading.)