This morning’s TODAY Show featured a segment on a woman who chose to leave her husband and two young sons (ages 3 and 5 at the time) while on an extended research trip to Japan because she realized she didn’t want to be a mom anymore leaves my chest tight and my gut aching. Photos show her boys as pre-school-age angels. I want to hug and kiss them as my own.
Now, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto’s memoir Hiroshima in the Morning has been named a finalist for a National Book Award. My initial reaction: Really? She’s being celebrated for this? I could weep.
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Reiko Rizzuto speaks of her struggles to stay true to herself and admits that she had never wanted children (which begs the question why she had two). “I didn’t want to be swallowed up,” she says on the TODAY Show interview.
Some ten years later, she lives down the street from her family, sharing custody with her ex-husband and co-parenting her now teenage sons. While the set-up of this story positions her as a terrible, selfish mother who abandons her children to a loving and caring father, it’s not clear if she remained involved in their lives then as she is now. If so, how is this so different for the kids as a common divorce? Yes, divorce is a break up of a marriage, and in this case she broke up with her family and relinquished primary custody, but were these children really any worse off living primarily (or entirely – it’s not clear) with their father?
Plus: 31 Reasons You Shouldn’t Feel Mom Guilt
If you no longer want to be a mom, and you have another parent able to take care of your children, could you ever be justified in walking away? Would we be having this discussion if she were a man who’d left his wife and children? Watch the segment and decide for yourself.