Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Celebration of Selfishness

We live in the age of disposable everything: diapers, cups, grocery bags, relationships, children, responsibility...

If you can name it, you can throw it away. The thing is that it used to be considered despicable to jump the family ship to pursue one's own selfish interests. Now it is something to be celebrated and venerated.

A man who leaves his wife and children for another man is celebrated for having been "true to himself".

A woman who aborts an unwanted pregnancy is venerated for being in control of her body and her future (never mind the body or future of the human being she was instrumental in creating).

And a woman who leaves her husband of 20 years and two young children to pursue self-fulfillment writes an award-nominated book about abandoning her family, appears on national television to share her story, and has no guilt whatsoever about telling the general public (and by extension, her children) that she never wanted kids in the first place.

My, how morally superior we've become.

Of her decision to leave her husband and children, author Rahna Reiko Rizzuto says: "I realized that I had lost myself a little bit and I wanted to give myself more priority."

Well, don't we all? I know of no mother who has any particular fondness for changing diapers or cleaning up barf in the middle of the night, or playing endless rounds of Candyland and watching "Finding Nemo" 100 days in a row, but we do it anyway because we have an understanding that we are working for a greater good, and that putting the needs of family above our own wishes and desires will eventually fulfill us more than selfishness ever could.

Ms. Rizzuto, forgetting that personal fulfillment should never come at the expense of devastating a spouse or children, brushes aside her responsibility to her family, saying, "We have to have the freedom to decide what it is we're going to do and how it is we're going to shape our motherhood, to shape our lives."

Somehow she doesn't understand that she did decide what she wanted to do with her life when she said "I do" to her husband and "Welcome to the world" to her sons. Some responsibilities, like those of parent to child or husband to wife, are permanent, and discarding them in the name of personal fulfillment is about as freeing as locking oneself in a cage.

For Ms. Rizzuto's sake, I hope she realizes how trapped she is before she throws away the key.


MyDonkeySix said...

I need to think of something horribly selfish to do so that I can write a book about it and make $$. Seems that people will buy anything now-a-days.

What a sad, confused, and lost woman. You can see her "happiness" written all over her face. She missed out!

Aaron said...

Wow... Tiffany and I know a woman who did this exact same thing after reading "Eat Pray Love."

Fortunately, almost all the comments to that story recognize her selfishness too.

Sara said...

That breaks my heart. Yes, I think sometimes we as mothers go too overboard and forget that if we're totally drained, there is nothing to give. But that doesn't mean abandoning responsibility. It means prioritizing and giving ourselves a few minutes to recharge.

Of course, mine comes at oh-dark-thirty when I'm the only one up, but it's those few moments of quiet that shape my day - and keep me sane.

I hate nothing more than the phrase, "We as women deserve". No we don't DESERVE anything. We EARN things. And we certainly don't deserve to abandon responsibility and children to "find ourselves."

Ugh. Her kids are going to spend years in therapy trying to figure out what is wrong with them, when, in fact, their mother is the one whose head needs a good cleaning out.

fiona said...

That is really, really, really sad :( Those poor children... And while she's definitely being selfish (is there a stronger word for that?), I feel sorry for her, too. She is missing out on so much, and ruining what should be the best part of her life. So SAD!

Megan B ♥ said...

I read about this woman last week. It is awful, just awful. She is so deluded.