It may surprise you to learn that mom of six, actress and director Angelina Jolie admitted this week that she never wanted to be a mother. “It’s strange, I never wanted to have a baby. I never wanted to be pregnant. I never babysat. I never thought of myself as a mother,” she told the Associated Press.
Jolie’s currently in Cambodia directing First They Killed My Father, the story of the 1970s Cambodian genocide from a child’s perspective, for Netflix. Sixteen years ago when she visited the country for the first time to film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, she had an awakening.
“When I first came to Cambodia it changed me. It changed my perspective,” Jolie, 40, admitted. Growing up in LA had left her with a “real emptiness” and she added, “That trip triggered my realization of how little I knew and the beginning of my search for that knowledge. I was very humbled by it.”
But it was several years later on a United Nations trip that included a visit to a Cambodian school that really changed things for Jolie. “It was suddenly very clear to me that my son was in the country, somewhere.”
Two years later, she adopted her son, Maddox, now 14, and became a UN Goodwill Ambassador, regularly visiting the country on humanitarian missions.
Jolie went on to adopt Ethiopian daughter, Zahara, now 11, and son Pax, now 12, from Vietnam. And she and Brad Pitt have three biological children: daughter, Shiloh, 9, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 7.
For a woman who never wanted to have children, Jolie has certainly done a U-turn — which I completely understand, as I felt exactly the same way, and yet, I am a mom of two.
For all of my 20s, I had no desire to have children; it certainly wasn’t my “life plan.” For a start, I had a horrific birth phobia, which had begun when I saw a birth video in biology class at the age of 13. Also, I never babysat any kids, and in general, I found children to be slightly terrifying.
I loved my younger cousins, but there were seven and 11 years between us, and while I enjoyed hanging out with them, I never felt responsible for them — more like a big sister. I had no siblings of my own, so I never had to “look after the younger ones” or help in any way to raise a family.
All of that made me quite allergic to the idea of having kids, and it only hit me that I wanted them when all of my friends started having kids. Prior to that, I was stunned when any friend admitted they were having a baby. I almost resented their child for taking my fun-loving friend away from me! I loathed the change in them, going from being the last to leave any party, to suddenly having to go home early or simply canceling meet-ups entirely. I’d resent meeting for coffee in a place swarmed with moms and strollers. It felt like we had grown apart — they were on another planet from me, and the only way to join that planet was to have a family myself.
Obviously this wasn’t the only reason I had kids — a large part was the fact that I met my husband and realized I wanted us to become a unit, a little family. Plus, I realized that my life, as brilliant as it was, was devoid of something tangible, but not quite definable.
Were my husband and I going to spend the rest of our lives merely focused on our work, or each other, talking about the world around us and our desires and not much else? It felt somewhat empty, although I totally understand why people choose not to have kids — having more money and weekend breaks away all sounds very appealing,
In truth, I looked around me and realized the circle of life was moving on and I didn’t want to be left behind. I knew motherhood wasn’t going to be a natural fit to me, and I do struggle at times to juggle all the balls of work and parenting without having any family nearby to help me, but I took the leap anyway.
I don’t quite have Jolie’s brood of six, but I have had two, and that is plenty for me! Not everyone desires motherhood from an early age — for some of us, it creeps up on you and hits you when you least expect it. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I hadn’t taken the plunge, but I know in those moments that my life would never have been as amazing as it is now, and I’m grateful for all that I have. I bet Jolie is, too.More On