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Could You Walk Away from Motherhood for a Career?

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After a six-month fellowship in Japan, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto decided she "didn't want to be a mother," and left her husband and two young boys, ages 5 and 3, to pursue her career, making herself the priority. Is this woman selfish or is she a better for it?

In her controversial memoir, "Hiroshima in the Morning: A Mother's Struggle for Identity," Rizzuto writes candidly about her life-changing trip to Japan, and about deciding she no longer wanted to be a full-time mom. She divorced her husband of 20 years.

"When I got to Japan there was a space around me where I wasn't defined anymore in the way I would be in the US, where people had these expectations, and I grew in ways that I didn't expect, and then I had to realized what I wanted," Rizzuto explained on "Today."

Watch her full interview.

Now, ten years later, Rizzuto currently lives down the street from her boys, sharing joint custody with her ex-husband.

Momlogic wants to know -- do you think this mother was selfish to leave her family? Or is she a better mother now because she is her true self? Could you leave your family to reinvent yourself?

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54 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sara March 3, 2011, 1:06 PM

Of course she is selfish, not because she is woman and “men do it all the time” but because she did not fulfill her adult responsibilties as a parent and her commitment to her children. Dad’s that do that are called “dead beat dads”. It’s not acceptable regardless of sex.

amonkeyinmypocket March 3, 2011, 1:13 PM

This woman isn’t a mother. She’s a self-entitled, egocentric harpy. She knows nothing of the self-sacrifice involved in being a wife and mother.

It doesn’t sound like she ever did sacrifice anythig. She left her husband and kids to pursue her own selfish whims and then decided she was better off without them.

I can completely understand mothers wanting to just up and leave after giving DECADES of their lives to their children, and feeling like they just give and give without being able to do anything for themselves — but this woman didn’t sacrifice A SINGLE THING.

There aren’t even enough words to describe what a miserable piece of self-centered garbage this woman is. She should never have gotten married and certainly never had children … especially not TWO. What gives her the right to suddenly just decide that the entire universe revolves around HER? What about her husband? What if he didn’t want to be a single father? What about her kids? What if they didn’t want to be abandoned because they were inconvenient?

Yuck, this woman is an absolute waste of life. I hope her career goes down the toilet.

don't be quick to judge March 3, 2011, 1:28 PM

Everyone is so quick to judge and share their hateful words and how she is a horrible person for leaving. But think of the other possible, if not more detrimental, outcomes. My mother was not happy being a mom - she too got married had kids because that was what women do. But she was not happy being a mother. She was depressed, stayed in her room, was verbally and emotionally abusive to us. Reminded us almost daily she never wanted kids and how we ruined her life. I think I would have preferred this life, and this type of mom, than living with a mother who hates her life and your existence.

Will March 3, 2011, 2:01 PM

I cannot believe this woman is making money by saying she did not want her kids and that she abandoned them, point blank.

I mean WOW, disgusted doesnt even begin to describe the way I felt listening to her talk on tv.

from a man that knows March 3, 2011, 2:42 PM

My wife left our two children and me 27 years ago. They were 3 and 1. There is nothing that can be said by anyone to defend what this woman did. She did what she WANTED to do. As a single father I did what I HAD to do. Raise our children. And don’t tell me her children won’t or aren’t suffering the
effects. No one that hasn’t gone through
what my children and I did cannot understand the damage she has done. What a narcissist she is. You cannot rationalize what she did to her kids and to her husband for her “space”. My
god she sounds just like my ex-wife did talking about herself. “Finding myself”
“Finding my space” Even her soft spoken way of talking reminds me of her. She has never really apologized to the kids or me for what she did. Chances are Rahna hasn’t either. Because she doesn’t really think she has done anything wrong. That is her “reality”.

Valerie March 3, 2011, 4:34 PM

It’s one thing to realize there something more
You want out of life, but to try to pretend you
Have no kids but purposely cut them out to
Your liking is selfish. Motherhood is tough
Nowadays due to both parents working and I
Would not suggest having children unless you
Realize your life is going to change and not
Necessarily for the best at times.

Angie March 3, 2011, 8:55 PM

I know that I could never do it. I would miss by baby way too much.

Darlene Anderson March 4, 2011, 8:13 AM

It’s a tragedy which is impacting not only her children but generations after. At a soul level her children are struggling with not feeling lovable and that legacy will take generations to heal. Weighting her career over generations of emotional wellness, is certainly unbalanced.

truth March 4, 2011, 8:18 AM

Wake up people, open your eyes! Listen - this is a very well crafted piece of anti-family propaganda. Don’t fight among yourselves - we need to recognize this for what it is. This is social re-engineering to destroy the core fiber of our nation (the home/family) and the media machine is cranking this stuff out daily. Look at the shock value in this piece. She has traded her family life for the success of becoming an anti-family evangelist for the establishment - Come on, I mean she even wrote a book about it (for obvious reasons). The FED GOV is offering money for Moms to go back to school (to get a career and leave the home). It’s a very obvious use of the Hegelian Dialectic. They want us to polarize and dispute over something that is fundamentally wrong by creating acceptable shades of gray and what ifs for us to debate — don’t fall for this mind control non-sense.

Rahna Hater March 4, 2011, 6:11 PM

She’s one little B@stard. I think she should go die in a hole, as a hoe.

Nando March 5, 2011, 11:11 AM

scourge, this isnt about a double standard; those who try to make it about that are looking for a reason to say its ok because others do it too. This is about a person who is is glorifying her choice to walk away from her children because she thought it would make her a better person. Only to come home with idea that she rather just be a part time mother instead.Im all for a person finding themselves, part time mom no problem but telling your kids you dont want to be a mom anymore or ever wanted to is beyond painful. From personal experience, that moment in time haunts you clear into adulthood. It something burned into your soul and you wish you could let go of.

Matt March 6, 2011, 8:25 AM

Are we to think it’s ok to put a parents needs above their child? It looks like from the comments so far the resounding answer is NO. This woman left her kids, plain and simple.

I wonder if this woman was forced to pay child support?
If this were a Father the first question asked would be did you pay your child support, but in this story it’s not mentioned once…I wonder why.

And to a previous poster..there are many men in this country that are stay at home dads who support their wives careers, while the woman is out working full time. This number of fathers is growing with the rise in women in management positions in the US, and that’s a good thing. It’s NEVER acceptable for a man or woman to leave a kid, and yes it’s more normal to have the man leave but do not blame the fathers that are doing the right thing.

Nicky March 6, 2011, 1:46 PM

Maybe we should have the fathers opinion…I know how I would feel if I was left high and dry with a 5 and 3 year old so my spouse could follow her dreams. She could have found a balance perhaps between her professional and personal life, however she selfishly chose not to.

dragnet March 6, 2011, 2:57 PM

If a man had done this to his children, we’d all be calling him a loser deadbeat. There would be no discussion about this whatsoever.

Carol March 6, 2011, 5:44 PM

Emily, scourge and Cara - I agree with your viewpoint.
Basically this women has done what most men have done, continue to do and without such outrage. Only difference is she’s overly sensationalizing events.
Better for the children to be with the better equipped parent.

SOPHIA March 8, 2011, 1:46 PM

I think the problem is most people don’t go writing books about not wanting their kids. So essentially rewarding someone for bad behavior with awards and a great book deal. How will those boys feel when they grow up and read about how selfish she was? Get therapy or something after 6 mos in Japan, not a divorce! That is why they call marriage a commitment! That’s the problem in the USA everything is disposable. If you don’t like it just throw it away and start anew. No wonder America is in such dire straights with people like this getting rave reviews from the “feminist” press! Feminism was created to separate mothers from their kids and see how it has worked?! Sad and disgusting!

Just Wow March 9, 2011, 9:24 AM

After reading the article and the comments I’m just sad. Sad about all of the negative hateful comments made by people. Had to, wants to, needs to. Wow just wow, I don’t think of my kids in these terms, perhaps it’s just me, but I choose to, chose to, and do. I am a mom, but I wanted to become an engineer so I did and when my first husband didn’t support me, I got rid of him. Kept the kids, not because I had to but because I wanted to.

I wanted to learn to build furniture, so I did. Wanted to learn computer programming, so I did. I held my life long enough to get my babies out of diapers, then I took them along for the adventure. So now I have two kids that can run studio equipment, create their own podcast, play various instruments, aren’t afraid of a camera or stage and know that their future is their own. It’s up to each of us to make our lives fit our vision. So stop sending all the hatred her way, she didn’t tell her kids that she wished they hadn’t been born just that she hadn’t wanted children, was I’ll equipped and couldn’t do it. Harsh? Yep. Honest? Yep. Is a harsh honest parent in touch with their abilities better than an angry miserable martyr? YES!! all day long. Don’t agree with her method, but she did it her way, I did it mine and y’all will do it yours.

from a man that knows March 9, 2011, 7:21 PM

To “Just Wow”: You are right about a couple things; it is up to each one of us to make our lives fit our vision. And no parent should be a “miserable angry martyr” as you put it.
My point is when a parent, mother or father, makes promises and a commitment to their children and their spouse THE ULTIMATE COMMITEMENT to love, nurture and be with them then breaking that commitment cannot be taken lightly. It is just not acceptable that it be broken because “I want to follow my muse” or something like that.
When I said “She did what she wanted, I did what I had to do” please understand that I actually did not have to raise my kids my mother would have done it, my sister would have done it but I chose to keep our family together. Do you think that maybe I had a different “vision” for my life before it abruptly changed because of the selfish decision my ex-wife made? Do you think perhaps my children’s “vision” of their life was permanently altered due to their mother abandoning them?
With all due respect (and I do respect what you have accomplished in your life for you and your children) you have “held the cards” for yourself. You left your non-supportive husband he didn’t leave you. You did it “your way” as you put it. No one got in your way so to speak. You just don’t know what it would have been like for you or your children if it had happened to you.

Anonymous March 10, 2011, 10:43 PM

I grew up with a mother who made it known to me at every oppurtunity how much she didn’t want children. When she was angry or stressed she would tell me and my older sister that she should just walk away from us and never come back. When you are a young child hearing these types of things and explicitly knowing how unwanted you are on a daily basis is hurtful to say the least. In my opinion, this woman knowing what she was capable of made the decision to become a part time mom out of some sort of compassion rather than complete selfishness. I would MUCH rather grown up in a loving home raised by an aunt or grandparent than having been subjected to my mothers complete unhappiness with having me around. As a result my relationships as an adult suffer. I honestly believe children are better off being with ppl who love them rather the hate their existence.

Austin Rodwell March 13, 2011, 4:00 PM

prolonged log you pick up

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