Saying 'No' to Motherhood Is Good for You


say no to motherhoodAbsorbing the weight of the headline "Why I left my children" caused me to involuntarily sit up straight and become stiff with disapproval of what I was about to read. Because as a mom, I can't even understand divorced parents willingly giving up custody, and hearing a mother defending the act of abandoning her children was sure to be painful, and somewhat rage-inducing.

So imagine my surprise when after reading Rahna Reiko Rizzuto's essay about working in a foreign country, far away from her two children, and her subsequent divorce, I found myself completely relating to the mother of two.

While I could never do what Rizzuto did -- move across the world and work while my family stayed behind -- I applaud her rejection of traditional motherhood. And believe that the more of us that follow her lead, the happier everyone will be. Including the kids.

Like Rizzuto, I never really planned on having children. After I met the man that would become my husband, I did start considering it, however. He was even more enthusiastic about the venture, which was when I started to realize that it's easy to be excited about something when you aren't the one who carries the burden.

He wouldn't be pregnant for nine months, then expected to breastfeed, essentially giving your body over to another human being for another three, six, or twenty-four months. He would only take a few vacation days, then be back in the office with zero rips in his nether-regions or baby weight to lose. But more importantly, as Rizzuto points out, men are not expected to be the self-denying martyr that is a mother. Her own realization, even after her husband agreed to take on the caretaker role, was this:

My problem was not with my children, but with how we think about motherhood. About how a male full-time caretaker is a "saint," and how a female full-time caretaker is a "mother." It is an equation we do not question; in fact we insist on it. And we punish the very idea that there are other ways to be a mother.

Rizzuto rejected this, and now says she's a better mother for it. I also insisted on equal parenting, and that my husband's previous life in a jet-setting job that would make me a single parent at least part of every month would not be a part of our future. Something that is quite difficult when the man of the house is making a heck of a lot more money than you are.

But we made it work, and I know my husband is far more satisfied at being a fully involved co-parent to his two children. Rather than setting us up in traditional, and outdated, roles that say I take care of the home life, and he pats the kids on the head every night before pouring himself a scotch (not that we both don't do that occasionally as well). And I'm a much happier wife and mother, one who doesn't feel burdened by my beautiful, amazing family, but instead blessed. The kids know that both parents love them, and both parents are available for school pick-up and drop-off, bedtime stories, and secret sharing.

Saying no to traditional motherhood has resulted in a truly happy home for all of us. Balancing crazy schedules, dealing with financial challenges, sick days, and all the rest is much less contentious when one person isn't feeling dumped on. We don't give resentment a chance to build and damage our marriage or our kids. And I can't imagine living any other way.

Are you a traditional mom?

Image via emilywjones/Flickr

child care, working moms


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spaan... spaangel13

I'm not a traditional mom because I can't be!  I wish I could.  Both my hubby and I have to work because of bills and not because we live beyond our means; but because of the pay scale that we have and our stupidity of racking up credit card bills in our youth.  So, we have to do what we have to do; but I do think that if a mother wants to stay home and she can, then that is a wonderful thing and shouldn't be considered outdated, burdensome and mocked.  I work full-time as well as being a mother full-time and I love it so much.  I still have time for myself for the things I want to's just that my days are filled up because I make sure everyone and everything gets my undivided attention.  If you want to accomplish or be something, you can do it if you work hard at it.  :o)

sassy... sassykat122

While the idea of this woman might be abhorrent to me ( i would never in a million years leave my child for six months!) thats for this family to decide. Her two boys are happy and content and if they've found a way to make it work for them then thats whats important

lovin... lovinangels

Yes. I am.

And there is something, something major, to be said for that, too.

Mommy... MommyMays

I am very traditional, but not all mothers should be expected to be. Everybody is different.

Mommah3 Mommah3

We have the very traditional roles in our house. i am a stay/work at home mom. I am a daycare provider so I not only mother my children but others as well. My husband works over 55 hrs a week so that I can stay home with our kids. I do everything in the house as well as some of the outside stuff. Yes, sometimes, I get sick of it BUT that being said I really do love taht I am able to be home (finally)! I used to work outside the house and I felt that my kids were being raised by (not-so caring) daycare providers and in our car! Now I am raising my children and helping others to raise theirs in a home setting where I hope they feel like they are at a second home!

vanes... vanessa5470

I guess I'm not a traditional mom.

I'm a teacher and mom of a 19 month old and currently 10 weeks pregnant. I choose to work outside the home because I too did not want to give up my goals. I spent the first 6 months at home and went back to work. Personally, I can't stay home, just can't. Financially I don't need to be working, but I still find myself needing the sense of self. I know my son is in good hands, he goes to daycare in the same building where our school is located. I am able to check on him and spend time with him during breaks. We go to school together and we go home together. Our evenings are spent together as a family and we're all happy.

Every woman is different, some of us have other needs and can be mothers just the same.

winte... winterrose82

"hearing a mother defending the act of abandoning her children was sure to be painful, and somewhat rage-inducing." 

I take issue with the way you described what Ms. Rizzuto did. She didn't abandon her children. She was, and is, still an active part of their lives. 

I was abandoned by my mother, and that was done at an age when I could remember *exactly* what happened.  Abandonment means to no longer be that woman's child, to no longer be wanted, to never see her, to be cut off completely, it means, essentially, to no longer have a mother.

Those kids have a mother, and one who loves them. She may not have wanted to be a mom in the first place, but she became one, and she is doing right by her children. They have 2 parents who love them, despite the fact that their father is their primary caregiver. 

nonmember avatar Christine

I stay at home, yet my daughter goes to daycare. I would LOVE to be a "traditional" mom, but because of illness I can not be. I can not work, and because I can go from feeling great to feeling awful in a second I can not safely have my daughter at home wih me. Now that she is older (5) I probably could have her at home, but she loves her daycare so much that she still goes. Next year when she starts kindergarten I hope to be able to have her ride the bus home, but she may have to do afterschool and have my husband pick her up. Speaking of husbands, mine is much more involved with being a Daddy then I see a lot of husbands being with their kids. Because I have to work on me and my illness, my husband steps in to care for our daughter to give me the time I need. We love being a family together and our daughter is healthy and happy :)

xavie... xavierlogan09

i am currently a sahm. i don't like it. i love spending time with my son. however i miss working and being around other adults. we're moving this weekend. so that i can go to school and start working. our son will be watched by his grandma. i don't think i'm traditional. i do what i can to make my family happy.

angev... angevil53

i try to be a better mother than mine was to me. right now i am a sahm, i don't know if i will be doing it forever, but it works for us right now.

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