Saying "No" to motherhood is good for you

Katherine - posted on 03/02/2011 ( 9 moms have responded )

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Absorbing 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 breast feed, 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, 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 of 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?





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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.



Love it and it's so true. I could NEVER leave my kids the way she did and I don't agree with her, but I do agree with this statement.

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There is nothing in this world that could force me to willingly give up my children much less move JUST for a job and I can't relate to anything in this article. Here is why.....

I love traditional motherhood and I don't believe that the more that reject it will mean they will be happier, even the kids.

I did plan on having kids. I have always wanted kids and wanted to be a mother and I DON'T consider it to be a burden in any way. The pure joys involved with feeling and watching a new little person, a piece of you, growing inside of you is a wonderful thing. Then to know and be able to give that child the best by providing for it even longer. Knowing that only you can give your child the food that is right for them. (3- 6- 12+ mos.) Where it is time consuming it is also a wonderful time to bond with your baby whenever you get to hold them, snuggle them, feed them, etc.

My DH didn't take "a few vacation days" and then be back in the office free of worries. Neither do I see myself as a "martyr" and I don't think of any other mother that way either. I think that everyone see's "motherhood" differently but I feel truly sorry & sad for those that see it as a burden or having to be a martyr. That is NOT what motherhood is about, not at all. A full-time male caretaker is a "saint" and a full-time mother is still a saint. However, We have been SAHM"s for so long in history that it is just a given that women know and learn what to do and how to do it. They communicate with each other and they learn from each other. Men don't have the same support system that women do as stay at home dad's.

How can you be a "better mother" if you aren't there. You are in a completely different country away from your children. You can't be there to wipe their tears, hug them, go to their games, hear about their day, or do anything for them except maybe by phone or web. You don't get to meet their friends, go to parent teacher conferences, have pillow fights, make towers, play with them, explore with them, hold them when they are sick, or listen to their giggles.

If you are lucky enough to be able to be a one income family, or to have an "equal opportunity" household then congrats! However, there are thousands of us that NEVER take one second of our children for granted because these years go by so fast. One day every woman will look back and think; "wow, I can't believe they are grown." You will also follow that up with one of two things. "It seems like just yesterday I was....." or "I really wish I would have been able to spend more time with my kids."

Everyone seems to make "traditional homes" out to be a bad thing. However, there is nothing "wrong" or "outdated" about a traditional home. In our "traditional home" my DH DOESN'T come home and "pat the kids on the head" so to speak. He interacts with them, plays with them, asks about their day, see's their work, etc. I do not nor have I EVER felt burdened by my beautiful, amazing, family, but instead blessed. In our "traditional home" our kids know that both parents love them, both parents are available 24/7. Not just for school pick-up and drop-off, bedtime stories, and secret sharing. If you feel that dropping your kids at schools, programs, and childcare programs so that you can work is good for you all then have at it. However, it doesn't make "traditional homes" any less good than your "progressive home". 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 is true but it doesn't have to be a "burden" either. Motherhood should NEVER feel like a burden. If it does then, please, I beg those mothers to allow someone else who wants kids to raise yours. We don't give resentment a chance to build, damage our marriage, or our kids anymore than the working family. Those of us SAHM that truly LOVE being what we are feel blessed and truly gifted that we are able to And I can't imagine living any other way.

It will not permanently damage our children if we have brunch with a friend twice a week.
They will not suffer emotionally if we spend one evening with friends while dad tucks them in.
They will not become hardened criminals if mom & dad go on a date and leave them with *gasp* a sitter once or twice a month.
They will not be undisciplined heathens if mom lets them play on their own for a while so she can work at her own hobby.

Are you a traditional mom? If you are or aren't is of no consequence. HOWEVER, if you are.....
THANK YOU! Thank you for being proud of who you are and what you do. No matter what anyone else says you are NOT a martyr and your children are NOT your burden. They are miraculous little beings that YOU are a mother to. You are wonderful and a saint with a wonderful support system to back it up. :)

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Johnny - posted on 03/03/2011

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I enjoy traditional motherhood. I do work part-time, but would love to stay home full-time before they start school. But, my husband would also be happy to stay home and look after her full-time, and he'd do a darn great job of it. So in our case, it would depend on who was making more money.



I think children are best off with loving, directed attention from caring people who are stable forces in their lives. In my daughter's case, she spends 3 days a week being cared for by her grandparents, and I do not think that my not being there on those days causes her any harm whatsoever. It makes me sad, to not be with her, but she's just dandy about it.



I think that a child does not NEED to have the mother at all times to have a healthy, happy life. If that is what works for the mother and the family, then it is great. But if having the mom work and the father stay home and be the primary caregiver works better for a couple, then that is the best way in which to handle their family.



I could never do what this woman did. I don't judge her for it. I wouldn't judge a father who worked overseas or one that joined the military and was posted away on deployment. The double standard bothers me. I do not think it is great for kids to be separated from their parents for long periods of time (my mother suffered emotional trauma from this happening in her life that persists to this day). But that is what life throws your way sometimes and you do what it takes to survive. It doesn't matter if mom or dad is the one who is gone, it can be hard on the kids.

Sarah - posted on 03/03/2011

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While I couldn't imagine living away from my kids, I do kinda get what the OP is getting at.

I think that the major problem is that women feel pressured to be the "perfect Mum" (mainly by other Mum's I'm sad to say) and THAT is why some women end up feeling that their family is a burden to them. They set themselves (or feel other's have set for them) unrealistic ideals of what a Mother should be like, so they try to do it all and wind up feeling like a martyr etc.

I see nothing wrong with either a traditional or a non-traditional family set up, if it works for that particular family, then it's all good! I feel it's wrong to knock either one.

I also think that men can be just as great at being the primary carer as a woman! I bet my husband would be far better than me actually. He goes to work because he can earn more money than I can........if I had the greater earning potential, then hell yeah I'd let him be the one to stay at home (not that I do, I work part-time).

Are my kids a burden to me? Sometimes, I won't lie, it feels a little like it! The good FAR outweighs those moments though......I wouldn't be without them for all the tea in China! I won't lie though, sometimes is does all get too much and I need a break, and I don't see EVERY moment as a "precious moment", sometimes I want to lock myself in the bathroom just to get away from them! lol

Does that make me a bad Mum? Nope.........just makes me human :)

Katherine - posted on 03/03/2011

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I don't think they can multi task and would get to stressed out. Now I'm not saying this would go for ALL dads, but most.

Bonnie - posted on 03/03/2011

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I like traditional motherhood. Dads don't have it in them to take care of the kids and the house full-time.

Katherine - posted on 03/02/2011

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Unfortunately, I think any dad would suck. Only because they aren't US.........MOM

Stifler's - posted on 03/02/2011

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I love staying home and doing the traditional parenting roles thing but oh God... if I made as much money as Damian I'd make him stay home and I'd go to work or even work away. He would suck at being me though.

[deleted account]

I am a pretty traditional mom at this point--I'm a sahm, my husband works 30+ hours a week to pay our bills, I volunteer at school, and all that jazz--but I never understood the "mommy martyr" role.



When I became a mom, I did not feel like I needed to give up everything for my kid. I gave up a lot, yes, but I weighed the pros and cons of everything I gave up against the value of being a mother to my son. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my little boy, and if I had to, I would give up everything for him, but I DON'T have to, so I didn't.

There is no reason I cannot do things just for me, just because I am now a mom--less thing, yes, but I still do things for me and me alone.



It will not permanently damage our children if we have brunch with a friend twice a week.

They will not suffer emotionally if we spend one evening with friends while dad tucks them in.

They will not become hardened criminals if mom & dad go on a date and leave them with *gasp* a sitter once or twice a month.

They will not be undisciplined heathens if mom lets them play on their own for a while so she can work at her own hobby.

And while staying home is a choice I made, the children of working moms will not grow into snotty brats because they spent the day at day care or with their nanny. In fact, my decision to stay home was based more on my happiness than some imagined perception that my son needed me 24/7 until he started school. He would be just as fine with his nanny as he is with me, but I am happier at home--The point, my happiness is just as important to me as his happiness, and that is the way it should be (imo).

Nikki - posted on 03/02/2011

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I agree the statement is very true. My brother in law looks after his 3 boys under four while his wife works, everyone thinks he is amazing. Which he is, he does a fantastic job, I can't praise him enough because he is a wonderful and loving father. BUT it would be nice to get a little recognition as a stay at home mum too.

I think if this works for the family then more power to them, better than the mum living a traditional life and resenting her children.

Personally I couldn't do it, I love being a mum, it's all I wanted to be when I grew up.

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