Post # 1
Did anyone see or hear about this story? I saw it on the Today Show this morning: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/41872847/ns/today-books/
Basically it’s about a woman who, as a mother of two boys, aged 3 and 5, came to the realization that she never wanted to be a mother. She divorced her husband and he took over as the primary caregiver for the boys. They are now teenagers and she has written a memoir about her life and decision to become a “part-time mother.”
Here’s another article written by the woman to offer a slightly different perspective: http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/02/28/leaving_my_children/index.html
I posted this link on my Facebook this morning and it sparked some really interesting debate. I know there are a lot of moms and moms-to-be on the boards so I’m especially interested in what they have to say.
How do you feel about this? Is it really possible to be a “part-time mom”? Is this different from a man leaving a woman after feeling the “burden” of parenthood?
Post # 3
I skimmed through both the links you provided. I find it sort of sad. Sad that she left the man she loved, sad that she realised far too late that she didn’t want children. But at least she didn’t stay and raise them without love. She didn’t grow to resent them whilst living with them. That would have been worse.
My opinion also depends on how she handles it now as well. If her children want nothing to do with her then she cannot try to force her way back in. She made her choice, now let them make theirs.
People make mistakes in life, think they want one thing and really they want another. She didn’t leave them in the street or anything. It’s certainly sad but I don’t think she’s an awful person. She obviously just didn’t get the maternal instinct that many have. I think it’s harder for another mother to accept this story. I’m not a mother so I can see her side of things. Though I do hope to be one one day.
Post # 4
I had to stop reading all of the comments that had been left on the msnbc page. One person put it perfectly: very few of those comments would have been there if she were a man.
I’m sorry but it’s true. I, for one, think she did a very brave thing. She gave her children what she could of herself. I would rather have a few hours of quality time with my mother than years of fighting and resentment. Those of us who come from fractured families that stayed together “for the kids” will tell you it’s not always a good thing. I don’t necessarily like what she did. But I don’t see it as abandonment. She and her husband divorced. Their boys live with him. Why is that so hard to grasp? That the man would be better equipped to give full-time care than the mother? They made the decision that was best for the kids. She lives down the street and the time that they have together is devoted purely to just that: quality time together.
The simple truth is she never wanted to be a mother. She should not have had children. But she did, and she’s giving them what she can. It’s not perfect, but it’s their life and their family and their decision. I’m appalled at how quick so many people are to call her horrible names and condemn her when they don’t know two things about her. Again–if she were a man this conversation wouldn’t even be taking place.
Post # 5
While I don’t think its a good situation AT ALL, I must say… I work with children deemed unsuitable for foster homes, ie. they were kicked out of many foster homes due to their behavior and now live in their own homes with workers coming in and out twice a day to take care of them (obviously not the ideal but thats not the point), and if you talk to these children and read their files about all of the horrible things their parents did to them to get them taken away in the first place, you’d wish that their parents would have been honest with themselves and said ‘you know what, i’m not cut out to be a parent’ and done something about it then and there. These children are so deeply scarred that they will NEVER live normal lives. So yeah, it could be a lot worse than becoming a ‘part time mom’.
Post # 6
Yes there could be things worse than a part time mom, but sorry I have no sympathy for people like this. My mother left us when I was 12. Actually we were taken from her by a family member bc she chose abusive men and other recreational activities over us. She had 5 kids ranging in age at that time from 26-9. She was told she could have us back if and when she got her life in order. Well she did, but never wanted us back and now 28 years later she tries to act like nothing has happened and she did nothing wrong. You have NO idea the impact something like that has on someone until you have been through it or you’ve worked with children who have gone through it. Those children were lucky bc they had their father, I did not have the luxury. Yes people make mistakes, but you also need to take responsibility for those mistakes and realize the consequences your actions had. For me a memoir to which you are making money, is quite disgusting as well.
Post # 7
Honestly I think most people would feel the same way if she was a man. Men who father children and then become emotionally or physically absent (or semi-absent) from their lives are not exactly admired in our society. Pretty much it’s one of the most despicable things a man can do. Nobody aspires to be a part-time dad. It’s the suckiest thing in the world, besides physical abuse, which is not a factor in this case.
On the contrary I think people are more willing to give her a pass since she’s a woman and she can embrace a pseudo-feminist, “finding my identity apart from my husband and chldren” narrative. There’s nothing feminist about it. Living with integrity and being true to your greatest self as a woman (or a man) requires finding how your identity fits within the context of the responsibilities and choices you’ve already made. If “part time parenthood” was anybody’s true identity, that would make them a pretty lousy person. Luckily I don’t think it IS anyone’s truest, highest self. It’s a path people choose for themselves because of their limitations, NOT because of their strengths.
The book is about self-involvement, not self-discovery.
Post # 8
@Magdalena: As a mother who has made many sacrifices as a result of having a child, I agree with much of this. I’m a “You make choices and you live with them” kind of person.
And P.S. how nice it must be for her children growing up knowing she feels this way. I don’t care what anyone says, that is going to cause them a lifetime of pain.
Post # 9
I think her brutal honesty is refreshing, quite frankly. Lots of people feel pressured into motherhood by society, and I think it’s an important aspect of our world to bring out into the open. I also think the fact that she realized this and was able to find her own path and voice was brave.
If she were a man going off on a business trip or being a less involved parent, nobody would bat an eye and a thread would never have been started to discuss the situation.
Post # 10
I can’t even read what she wrote. It is written so, so poorly.
Also I find it in very bad taste to compare your life to the events in Hiroshima. Because unlike you, the people of Hiroshima didn’t choice to have a bomb dropped on them and suffer radiation posioning.
Post # 11
I think she kind of sucks. It one thing to say – “I never wanted to be a mother, I want out” and totally leave. Fine do THAT. It’s another to want the BENEFITS of having children without having to care for them. I think she’s just being super selfish in the name of “self-discovery”.
There’s no such thing as a “part-time” parent. Just because she was a mother doesn’t mean she couldn’t find something fulfilling to suppliment her role in the home, if that’s what she needed. She could have told her husband she wanted a career and they could have worked something out so she could continue working or started a new career. Plus according to her story – they had a caregiver for their children so I get people being overwhelmed but it seems like she had plenty of help and support from her husband.
Even if she felt she was pressured into motherhood – it’s a decision she made, twice. Sometimes people need to realize that the choices they make in life have consequences.
She’s not on the edge of anything ground-breaking – she’s just a dead-beat parent with a book about it. I think people would see a man who left his family the same way – it’s just selfishiness.
Post # 12
I don’t really get it….she didn’t leave her children, she moved down the street and had partial custody. And her husband would have supported her going overseas for long periods of time so she could do what she wanted in life, she left a marriage.
Post # 13
@camrie: I was trying to think of a way to explain my ambivalence about this woman and your post is way better, so I’m just gonna say I agree with you.
With every choice you make, you take something on, and you give something up. It’s called life.
Post # 14
@camrie: I totally agree.
Others may disagree but when you have children, your top priority becomes them, and you put yourself second. There are other ways of “finding yourself” besides moving to a foregn country and deciding you only want to be a part time mother. Being a parent is 24 hours a day-forever. Regardless whether she was talked into having children, that was a choice she made. And now those children will grow up and be able to read about how their mother never really wanted them. I think it’s sad.
And I would have the same feelings if a man wrote this book.
Post # 15
I think she’s selfish. She had the children and dumped them. She left the country and now she’s making money off of the entire situation. Someday those kids are going to read the book and see her for how truely selfish she is. She’s not brave, she’s a coward.
I agree with sceeder …. how on earth can she compare her selfish acts with those of a city full of people who had a bomb dropped on them.
Post # 16
I read both articles. I’d be interested to read it from her husband’s perspective. From hers alone though? I don’t feel she did anything so bad. She created a life she could be happy with. She didn’t abandon her children, she moved a few doors down. She was still a part of their lives, involved, caring, present.
I guess its a bit sad she got talked into having kids when she knew she didn’t want them but everyone seems happy in the end. Her husband promised to be the primary caregiver and he was. Her sons are loved and cared for. She has created a life she is happy with… I don’t see a big problem.