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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
unknown March 14, 2011, 9:07 AM

I think that if you have kids, the most important is to take care of your own first or don’t have any. kids should always be number one or give them up for adoption for someone who really loves them. Yes it is selfish in a way not to take care of her own and worry about others. Get the priority straight. Others can help who are more stable enough just do other ways. I am a single mom and my son always come first No doubt in my mind I would love to help others but my son has to come first. if I get a chance, I will make a difference but for now, I take care of my one and only son who I love so dearly. Besides, he may be there for me one day. Power to the moms who stick with their children. Love being a mom.

unknown March 14, 2011, 9:13 AM

if you take care of the kids in a different way you haven’t abandon but if you aren’t taking care of them in any which way then honestly you are abandoning them. Choose words carefully and wisely. Good luck with it.

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me March 21, 2011, 2:12 PM

She was definitely wrong. I never do that to my son, or tell him how hard it is for me to raise him even though it is way worse then expected. He is still my first priority.

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Mary April 8, 2011, 3:58 PM

I agree some of these comments are judgmental. Would it have been better if she were a resentful bitter parent? How health would that be for the children? Believe me sooner or later those children would have picked up on it. And they were not abandoned they were left with a loving parent and she was involved just not in the way this society expects her to be.

Not Impressed April 12, 2011, 6:50 PM

Leave to it MSNBC to try to turn a smarmy book deal into something supposedly thought provoking about double standards which it actually isn’t. This woman seems to have been more of an unwilling egg donor than mother material. If her husband had the same agenda as she did, the kids would have been really out of luck. I don’t buy into her attempts to “reframe” motherhood within the contextual spin of a new, “redefined” life. Her egoic quest will surely backfire on her in her twilight years as her peripheral vision narrows and focuses on what’s really important, i.e., her children, and they will bypass her then as she did them many years prior. As a divorced mother from a man who was not only extremely litigious but detached as well, I raised my son completely by myself under the most adverse circumstances. I wish I could have had the luxury to have been a stay-at-home mom; however, I’m thankful for God’s having blessed me with a stable albeit demanding career. Unlike this woman, I always wanted children and fought (as in *court* because of an ex who dependably initiated litigation but would invariably loose) for the priviledge—not burden—of raising my son. My son is grown and I miss him; however, I’m thankful I don’t have the guilt this woman will have. She is truly pathetic and garners no sympathy or respect from me.
P.S. The newcasters need to check the correct pronunciation of “often” and “prestigious.” They were way off on that as well as thinking their real agenda would fly under the radar.

marie April 20, 2011, 8:51 AM

While I completely understand how some would see her act as selfish, I do not think she is a selfish mother. Men do this and other similar acts all the time, and society accepts it waaay too much from them. I am a new mother, and while I LOVE my newborn, I am finding out just how much more of myself I give in our marriage, and its way more than what my husband offers. Being new parents means giving up some comforts until we can get adjusted. We can’t afford to live on one income, so I am still working. Before I got pregnant (at his request), I voiced my concerns about my dreams and goals being met. He promised to continue to support me in ways that I need him. While he says he will continue to support my dreams, as I do his, his behavior displays something different. I believe women, more than men, give up on their dreams when it comes to family. In a lot of cases I believe it is because we have to. Some men give more lip service when it comes to shared parenthood, than actual support, leaving the woman burdened to manage many responsibilities. I agreed to have a child during this time in my life (36 years of age, and finishing school at the moment) because he agreed that he would share equally in the responsibilities of being a new parent. Now I am finding that I end up with the bulk of the responsibilities because he acts as if he can’t handle the baby. I truly believe this is an ACT he puts on. So, I’m slipping in my studies, I am tired at work and feeling like I will have to lose myself and my dreams to make sure my daughter gets the attention she needs. I salute this mom for being true to herself. I believe when a woman is fulfilled, she is better not only to herself, but to her children and others. It is time for men to sacrifice their comforts and lifestyle just as much as we women do. Whether it be loss of sleep because of a newborn, putting a career or education on hold, hobbies, etc. Both parties should be ready to give up some comforts for the life they agreed to SHARE with one another. If the man does not hold up his end of the bargain, then women should be allowed to still pursue their dreams and goals, while he takes the domestic responsibilities.

Dion May 17, 2011, 10:19 AM

How could anyone EVER leave your children ?……She could of had both !

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