I remember a time when I just almost never heard of a wife and mom leaving her children behind as she “moved on” to a new life. It was rare enough for a family to experience the grief that comes when a parent walks away from the family, but only three decades ago, it was almost always the dad who walked. In recent years, though, it’s becoming all too common for women to get caught in the clutches of the devil and find those claws powerful enough to draw them from even those little innocent people for whom they have been given the ultimate and maternal responsibility and who are so very dependent on them for necessary nurturing and stability and for any kind of normalcy in their young lives. I’m amazed at the routine callousness I see in the words and eyes of mothers who are willing to sacrifice their lives with their children for a pittance of temporary and extremely selfish pleasure. Some familiar statements in this context include the following. Some are blatantly selfish. Some have a more shrouded self-centered tone. All are amazingly symptomatic of a culture that promotes absorption with personal pleasure at the expense of others.
“I am not willing to give up drinking for my marriage. I hope they serve beer in hell.”
“I’ve just fallen out of love with their dad.”
“Kids are resilient. They’ll bounce back.”
“But doesn’t God want me to be happy?”
“They’ll be better off without me.”
“There’s just not a place in my new world for her (my daughter).”
“My kids don’t like my new husband, so they don’t want to live with us.”
I decided I was just ready to move on to another life where I would be appreciated more.”
“I had this idea that motherhood was this really all-encompassing thing. I was afraid of being swallowed up by that.”
“I had to leave my children to find them.”1
“Now [my children and I] stay in touch by phone, IM, and Skype a few times a week,. I hear about their lives and give support.”2
Who are we kidding? To think that a human mother could forsake her offspring is deeply disturbing. But the fact that that there are mothers who look back on this decision without regret as they move on with self-fulfillment and that there are respected segments of our society that embrace such a choice is more than I can fathom.
I recently even heard of a mom who asked her teenage daughter if they could “get together at a restaurant somewhere and exchange Christmas gifts.”
It doesn’t take a PhD in philosophy or sociology to figure out that something’s fundamentally wrong in a society that so often gives a pass to moms who abandon their kids. You may be thinking “abandon” is a strong word for leaving your children for someone else to raise. Here’s a definition of “abandon” from The New Oxford American Dictionary
to condemn someone or something to (a specified fate) by ceasing to take an interest in or look after them.
Is a mother who leaves her children condemning them to certain fates by ceasing to look after them? Most definitely. It’s the fate of waking up in the mornings and going to bed at night without a ‘mom hug and kiss’–the fate of being alone or without parental nurturing during dad’s working hours–the fate of embarrassment on teacher conference day or mother-daughter sleepover night or recital day or softball tournament weekend. Even more consequential, it’s the fate of growing up without the discipline and the example of sacrifice and integrity that only a mother can so directly impress upon her own children.
And perhaps the most unsettling thing about this trend, if something so wicked can be called a “trend,” (it seems like something insignificant like fashion or vitamins or automobile safety features should be called trends) is that many who are reporting it are advising moms to “take time for yourself, so that you won’t burn out” or “be sure not to think of motherhood as an all-encompassing job, lest you be overcome by the responsibilities.”
Let me be clear: Children do not choose to be born into your world. They are products of your own choices. You knew what a child was before you conceived. (You WERE once a child.) People who do not want children should restrain themselves from conception of those innocent and helpless people who come into our world with eternal souls. Any mother who brings life onto the planet and then chooses to leave her child/children prior to their maturation into adulthood performs a profoundly selfish act. Continuing down such a path of self absorption is unconscionable conduct. The scriptures refer to familial love in Romans 1:31 as it describes a sin-sick society as being “without natural affection.” It is natural for a mother to love and nurture her own. A mother who does not is void of natural affection. The scripture speaks to those who are guilty in the next verse:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (vs. 32).
The way that we stop the acceptance of absentee mothers in our society is not by addressing whether or not the moms are being “fulfilled” in their maternal roles. The nurturers are not the primary ones to be filled during their years as moms with children at home. They are the fill-ers. They are the pourers. They are the ones with the monumental task of training and developing and “fulfilling” the lives they’ve produced.
Just four times every day, moms.
1. When they are sitting.
2. When they are walking.
3. When they are rising up.
4. When they are going to bed.
Doesn’t sound like a lot of leftover time to be wondering how I’m going to feel “fulfilled, “ does it? Ironically, though, the moms who put God to the test on this principle from Deuteronomy 6–the ones who take seriously their responsibilities to the little people who walk the planet wearing their genes or who’ve been adopted into their families–these moms find life both full and fulfilling.
1 “The Opposite of a Tiger Mother:Leaving Your Children Behind,” www.JewishMOM.com.