There has been a lot of buzz this week about Rahna Reiko Rizzuto. No, it's not a hot new restaurant, it is the woman who authored Hiroshima in the Morning.
Why all the buzz? She is a mom who left her kids. And wrote about it.
Rahna Reiko Rizzuto -- yes, I'm sure it's not a restaurant -- is doing the media circuit, turning up on The Today Show, The View and The Huffington Post.
Ten years ago, while married to her childhood sweetheart, the New York, stay-at-home mom of two small children and a writer, Reiko Rizzuto applied for a fellowship to go to Japan for six months to interview survivors of the bomb for the book she was writing. To her amazement, she won the grant and she accepted it, leaving her boys, then 3 and 5, in the care of their dad.
While in Japan, she realized that she didn't want to be a full-time mom. She ended up spending four months in Japan. Alone. She loved it -- being alone. While there, she felt that she had lost herself and wanted to make her priority -- her. She did not want to be identified as a mom. In fact, she didn't want to be a mom at all. She returned, divorced her husband and left her kids with him, to find herself. That was 10 years ago and she left that life behind, permanently.
Wait a minute! No one ever told me that leaving the kids was optional! Why didn't I get that memo?
Reiko Rizzuto said that while she was in Japan she would get a phone call from her husband saying that the kids had thrown up all night and were pillows washable? She didn't like that it was very unpleasant. Ohhh, that is terrible. It must have been very hard for her to have to hear that. He is obviously very selfish sharing that information with her, after him being up all night, nursing sick children, then having to go to work.
I remember once when my son was very young and he had a stomach virus. He actually threw up all over the bathroom floor and was stuck in a corner of the bathroom afraid to move. I had to trudge through and rescue him. Details not necessary - I'm sure you've conjured up a visual. But let me assure you -- the reality was worse.
Who knew that you could opt out of these situations -- or even just hearing about these situations? And yes, I know firsthand, pillows are washable. And rewashable.
On television Rizzuto repeatedly said how she did not want to live with her kids and she wanted to define her life differently. Not only did she leave them a decade ago, but she now announces that on national television and writes about it in her book. She says that when she sees her now teenaged sons, she spends five or six hours of quality time with them. She was quite proud that during those five or six hours that she doesn't text anyone or talk on the phone. That is very nice of her.
There were many, many times I would have loved to go to Japan/Arkansas/anywhere for four months. Do they still offer that fellowship? I'm a writer. Instead, I go out with my friends -- not even for four hours. It's probably not the same because sometimes I do get some of those unpleasant phone calls. Must remember to keep my phone on silent, next week.
I am not minimizing the fact that as a stay at home mom, you have an increased chance of losing what's left of your mind. Not disputing that. What was I saying?
I also acknowledge that there is often a long time temporary loss of your own identity. But walking away from your kids -- in all fairness, she does live down the block from them now, not sure how long that arrangement has been in place -- has got to have long term-effects on her kids. How can it not?
Regarding identity: After driving eight hours each way, by myself, each year, to visit my kids at camp, they gave me name tags to fill out. I never even bothered to write my own name, I just put my kids' names and mom. And I must say, nothing made me prouder. OK, I might be a little prouder that I made the eight-hour drive with only one stop. Each time. Booyah!
Michele Salt Horn offers a humorous look at life. Livingston is her hometown.