Your best take: The pain behind my mother's flawless facade

A reader explains how his mother left to "find herself" -- and lost out


Salon Staff
May 6, 2011 8:33PM (UTC)

Growing up in New England, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto's mother seemed flawless. But Rizzuto's story recounts how she learned the ache behind her mother's teflon exterior. Our favorite response comes from Douglas Moran, whose own discontented mother took a very different tack. Rather than cultivate the perfect household, she left.

Mirror Image

I cannot decide if I enjoy Ms. Rizzuto's posts, if they infuriate me, or if they just baffle me. It's almost as if she has lived the mirror image of my own life. My mother, too, was only 20 when she had me. My mother, too, seemed to be the perfect 50s Mom in the 60s and 70s.

And then my Mom left. Instead my mother did "find herself." After a pair of years part-time at a community college, my Mother left, permanently, leaving behind her three children and baffled husband to "find herself" in San Francisco. Where she got a psychology degree, a husband who was an artist and a professional model (for art classes; not the anorexic kind who stride down runways), and 35 hears of hard, often menial work before she was finally able to retire just last year. She found herself, and is very happy.

And her relationship with her three children is strained at best. Because how do you think kids feel when their mother walks out on them, never to return?

I additionally find it interesting that Rizzuto--whose Mother stayed through her and her siblings childhoods--left her own family, while I--the abandoned kid--hold onto mine like grim death. I would say that we are living against our Mother's path, except that Father was a constant, raising his kids, and his step-kids, and even some of their kids.

Rather than judge, I will say only this to Ms. Rizzuto: your Mother incurred damage to herself by sticking with her family. But when a mother doesn't fulfill the unwritten, unspoken commitment that she and the father make by bringing these small, needy beings into the world, there's plenty of other damage done. The difference is, instead of just the Mother being damaged, it's a whole bunch of other people.

It's up to everyone on their own to decide which is the lesser evil.

To read the rest of the letters, click here.

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