It's All About Me, Me, Me!

I recently watched an interview on The Today Show with Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, an author. The condensed version of her story is that after almost twenty years of marriage and two little boys, she won a fellowship that allowed her to travel to Japan to research a book. She was in Japan for six months, by herself except for a couple of short visits from her husband and boys. She discovered while she was there that she liked being free, independent and unfettered. She decided she no longer wanted to be a mother. She'd lost herself a little bit and and wanted to make herself a higher priority. So she did. She put herself first, divorced her husband and left her children.

It should be noted that she now has them for six hours a week and it's quality time. Instead of just being together, they use the time to cook together and do homework and she's a better mother for that six hours than she could have been full-time. (Insert gagging sound here.)

Oh, and just so you know, her children, who are now teenagers aren't suffering. They're happy and well-adjusted and now they get a better mother than they otherwise would have. (This would be a good place to roll your eyes.)

Oh, and if they have any issues later in life because of their mother's abandonment, there's therapy that can help them get through that and they'll be fine. (Watch the interview, you'll see I'm not misrepresenting her or her therapist co-guest.)

Oh, and she wrote a book. Big deal. That doesn't make you all that interesting or important. I'm not sure she deserved to make all of her decisions based on herself. She wasn't that impressive.

I've had a really hard time getting this interview off my mind. As I watched it, I noticed that Ms. Rizzuto hardly ever smiled. She didn't seem happy to me. She justified, rationalized, talked about her own worth and how she didn't want to lose herself, but the self she'd found didn't seem happy at all. Maybe she was a really crappy mother and maybe her kids are better off without her. That isn't the point. To me, the point is that where there's a high degree of selfishness, there doesn't seem to be a high degree of contentment, satisfaction, and joy.

There's such a difference between making ourselves A priority and making ourselves THE priority. I make myself a priority by making time for a nice, long bath, by sometimes ignoring a messy house and reading a book, by spending quality time (usually a lot more than six hours a week) with my husband and children. I make myself a priority by occasionally buying myself some See's chocolates, talking with friends on the phone or making a Costco lazagna instead of a big dinner from scratch. I make myself a priority by taking a nap when I feel really, really tired, watching a movie or TV show I want to watch or wasting some time playing a video game.

All of these things take care of me. When I'm not around my kids I miss them. A lot. I can't imagine that not having them around would make me happier or more fulfilled. The value of my life is increased because I'm their mom. That's not all I am, but it's the most important thing that I am.

I could leave them and go out into the world and try to affect lives and make a difference. Or I can make a difference here in my little piece of the world and hopefully send out four well-adjusted, unselfish and loved people into the world to make a difference.

It isn't just about me anymore. And if it were, how pathetic would that be? I'm just not interesting enough to make it all about me.

And in my opinion, neither was she.


Aim Aug said...

AH, the American dream. To get married, have children, become even more selfish, get divorced, let someone else raise the kids, and have a career. It's what we all dream of, right? As long as she is making good money, she's a success. No wonder the rest of the world hates us. Americans have every blessing and are never satisfied.

missy said...

I, too, saw this interview and had similar thoughts - with plenty of gagging and eye-rolling. I kept thinking 'is this for real?' And yes, selfishness is what it boils down to. Really, who cares what amazing things she's able to accomplish as an untethered free single woman. It's all those amazing mom's out there who are able to give first to their families and then to others that have gained my respect.

Ch√Ętelain said...

A couple of things come to mind. First, it's important that we allow others to be different from us. Maybe this woman was a bad mother, maybe she wasn't; we can't know this for sure, though I have my suspicions. But not everyone is going to do things the optimal way, and we have to accept that, whatever our judgments or feelings may be. I think she acted in a tragically self-centered way, but that's between her and her family.

What's more interesting and disturbing is that Today and other mainstream media shows are actively promoting this sort of lifestyle. The elites of the Western world have long been at war with the family. Marx hated it, the Soviets hated it, R.D. Laing hated it, Friedan hated it, and our intelligentsia have been struggling to undermine it for generations. The family is a problem because it fosters in people worldviews and priorities that compete with those of Socialism and Feminism.

Brent said...

I've never understood why someone can just opt out of whatever they want because they aren't very good at it. So if someone isn't a good mother, there's nowhere else to go with it. Come on, EVERYONE on the face of the earth can become better at something if they want to. If you want to be a better selfish snot, I guess you can practice on that one, too.

Vea (sorry about my blogger name here. It was meant to avoid earlier confusion, but it needs changed now.)

Julianna said...

Sadly, it is becoming more and more "socialy acceptable" for Mother's to leave, or become mothers-of-the-moment.

Am I jealous of my exhusband who goes and comes as he pleases, has plenty of money for himself (because none is ever sent for the kids) and can pick up and go where ever as easy as the wind blows?

Yes. Heck. Yes.

Would I trade that for my morning hugs from my youngest, or sharing fries with my oldest at McDonalds? Trudging through homework nightly, mediating fights between them, listening to their ramblings about their friends at school, or planning crazy birthday parties to celebrate their day?

No. Never. Not for one second.

I do not know the details of this woman's life, or how she was as a parent. But I do know, it takes more than DNA to become a mother. And not everyone should do it just because they can.