Sunday, June 12, 2011


My son sent me two links of Moms who left their children and are trying to convince you it was the right thing. My first response, like most people's was Holy Cow. Their stories are different. They excited enormous controversy.

But you know me, I like to look for other sides and unusual aspects of an issue.

1. My third, fourth, and fifth sons had worse mothers than this. Lots of kids in America have worse mothers than this. What is setting us off is the self-justification and rationalisation of it all. What we expect, when women leave their children in some less-direct...or heck, when either parent leaves their children in some less-direct way, that there will be some acknowledgment that it's a bad thing. They blame someone else for the bad thing, or have elaborate reasons why it couldn't have gone any differently, but not a denial of the wrongness. Openly rejecting common values just irks us.

2. The first woman, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, had an extended absence from parenting and decided she couldn't gear up to go back to it. Perhaps many of us might find the same trouble were we in her shoes, and it doesn't pay to throw stones. We had always gone on family camping vacations that still involved a lot of work, and could never afford to stay in hotels and eat out. We went on a vacation in 1992 that involved staying in hotels and eating out, and I have never quite recovered from that. I have mildly resented cooking, cleaning, and shopping ever since. I want that magical land where I have enough money and people just take care of my daily needs while I go play. I am quite serious when I say that my character deteriorated a little after that and has never quite rebounded. Yes, if I went away on book research for months, I am a person obsessed enough with duty that I would have thrown myself back into parenting upon return. But I bet I would have quietly resented it and pined for my lost life.

3. The second one, Talyaa Liera, claims she had tried to be a "supermom," but the examples she gives of that - late breastfeeding, lots of effort for organic food, losing sleep to write stories for them, driving great distances for Waldorf school - are not central to what most people have considered "parenting" for a thousand generations. She put enormous effort into being a good hippie parent, doing things that pleased other women in her set, and her own ideas of what was important. It may be that she never really had nor caught the idea of what being a parent is all about. I don't know if someone had convinced her to Just Be The Mommy it would have worked out any differently. Maybe she was never interested in that part and was only interested in the hippie parts of it to begin with. (Her website would suggest that.)

4. The comments at Shine - well, the first forty or so - are an interesting example of people immediately concluding that all this just goes to show what they had already believed about parenting was true. They know exactly what the problem is, and these women just prove it. Except they all have a different idea of what, precisely, has been proven. The data can be made to fit many theories, apparently.


ErisGuy said...

Here's the more usual mother leaves children story:

Retriever said...

About to go read links, but just for the record, I did the following hippie things (but didn't abandon my kids): exclusive breastfeeding to age 2 and a half, cloth diapers washed at home, at home mommy (no sitters, no extended family nearby so could never leave the kids), read aloud 3-4 hours a day or more to the kids until they could read, no TV until they were all reading chapter books (except documentaries on videos and approved kiddies films on weekends), organic food, all food cooked from scratch, homebaked bread, cookies, etc., home grown vegetables, all clothes and most toys from thrift shop, daily walks and trips to playground and public library, no vacations anywhere except to visit relatives and family place up north, regular church. A very boring family, living in a village where we could walk almost everywhere, and go to the beach. In a community where about 80% approx are married couples with kids. Stepford families.

Now off to read the links (I posted a while ago on mothers abandonning their kids as my own mother was one who followed her bliss. One of the most self absorbed women I ever knew. Very modern, actually. Would have fit right in with these PC types. Perhaps the reason I'm such a fuddy duddy church mouse in reaction... )

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Well, yeah, Retriever, but being a hippie parent when it's new is just a little different. We weren't as intense as you, but did lots of those things, too. We edged out of it gradually, discovering that our children remade some of the family culture as we went along. Plus we got so we didn't see the point of a lot of it after a few years.

Texan99 said...

2. -- I'm sure you would have been prone to the same resentment anyone might have felt, but as usual I tend to come back to whether or not you did your duty, not whether you had the rights thoughts and feelings about it all the time. I'm guessing you would have found a way to deal with your feelings, and not abandoned your children.

3. -- Yeah, "I couldn't be the perfect Mommy by some standard that has almost nothing to do with what you needed, so I abandoned you completely instead."