I walked out of my house and left my husband and kids

Guest post by Sarah Tuttle-Singer

Sarah is a Los Angeles ex-pat living in Israel — we’ve tried to source any terms most readers may not be familiar with. This post originally appeared on kveller.com.

My daughter and I, whirling together in the darkness.
Five months ago, I took one of our twelve suitcases out of storage, dusted it off, opened it up, and crammed in all my clothes, three photo albums, my mom’s journals, a bag — (ok, fine, three bags) — of assorted hair and makeup products that I had collected before leaving Los Angeles, the soft zebra dress my daughter wore as a baby, and the tiny cotton onesie with the sheep parading up and down the middle that my son wore for the first month after he was born.

And I left the kibbutz.

And while the taxi roared out the big yellow gate and down the winding road lined with fragrant eucalyptus trees, shattering the stillness of the starless night, it occurred to me that I had forgotten something: my family.

My husband B and I tried, but we couldn’t make it work. Our marriage was broken. And over the last several months instead of trying to Krazy Glue the fuck out of the pieces, I ground my high heel boot into them.

Dust to dust.

“Where the hell am I going to go?” I asked myself over and over and over during dark nights while I rode around and around and around the kibbutz on my shiny purple bicycle. “What am I going to do?”

I don’t do well when I feel trapped — I get twitchy and edgy, and I lash out like an angry beast. I hiss. I growl. I bite. And ultimately, I knew the only way out was to get out.

Usually, when a couple splits, they follow the standard protocol: the wife stays in the family house and maintains primary custody of the children, while the husband holes up in a seedy motel until he can find an apartment. The wife has support from her community — her family and the friends who are like family, while the husband has his people who stand behind him.

But what do you do when you’re all alone in a new country, and the only so-called community you have has your husband’s back and not yours?

You build your own community. That’s what you do. In moments large and small, you create a home for yourself, even if you have to start from scratch. And slowly, slowly, slowly, that’s what I’m doing. I have work — a job I love with coworkers who have given me more support than I could ever imagine. I have a few friends scattered around the country — and yes, on the kibbutz as well — who have humbled me with their compassion. And through the internet, I have my family and friends back home.

But still, I wake up in the middle of the night with a jolt, my heart pounding, convinced that through the cloying darkness I can hear my babies crying out for me to take them into my bed. And yet, I know that they’re miles away. The children I nursed through toddlerhood, that I co-slept with until just six months ago, are tucked in safe and snug on the kibbutz with their father while I sleep alone in a new city.

“Why can’t you take them with you,” so many have asked.

Because the kibbutz is kind to my children — it’s Gan Eden — a place they’re free to roam and explore, and over the past year, they’ve blossomed like the red poppies that bloom in the springtime. Yanking them by the roots and taking them out of preschool, and away from their father and grandmother, and their community, and transplanting them into my life in a shabby apartment in a foreign city would be devastating.

And so, three times a week, I take the train or cadge a ride to my children’s home — where they thrive.

And here I thought it was hard being on the kibbutz before I left: you know the pivotal moment in the nature video when the zebras are all chillin’ by the watering hole? It’s all idyllic and peaceful, until out of the shadows, a lion appears. The zebras know what’s up and the get the hell out of Dodge.

Well, when I visit the kibbutz, I am the lion. With leprosy.

I try to avoid being in public on the kibbutz. I pick the kids up from gan and either take them back to their house, or go to a friend’s. (See, it’s kinda hard to hold your head high when you’re ashamed that you couldn’t make it work for the sake of your children.) We recently attended the annual Kibbutz Hanukkah party — where all the families gather together in the Hader Ohel for celebration and song. Last year, we stood as a family and wiped the powdered sugared remnants of sufganiyot from each others’ cheeks. But not this year.

My desire to be at a public event on the kibbutz ranks right up there along with moldering in a cell in Gitmo or having tea with Sarah Palin. But this is Hanukkah — the first Hanukkah where both my daughter and my son will be old enough to remember the festivities, and so I sucked it up and we went. And I watched my strong and sturdy children run pell-mell into the fray, shrieking with laughter, while I thought of creative ways to disappear into the darkness.

But my daughter would have none of it. “Come on, Mama,” she said, grabbing me by the hand. “Dance with me,” and while the loudspeakers played the Hanukkah song “Banu Choshech Legaresh” we twirled in a circle. I couldn’t breathe. I felt about a thousand eyes boring into me while I held my daughter’s hand. What kind of mother leaves her family…

Faster and faster and faster we spun, while my daughter sang the words aloud: “Go away darkness black as night. Go away, make way for light.” And while we danced, the rest of the world disappeared, and all I saw in that moment were my daughter’s eyes shining like twin moons in the light of the menorah as we whirled together out of the darkness.

Comments on I walked out of my house and left my husband and kids

  1. This was hard for me to read. My best friend (we’ve been best friends since we were 8 ) recently left her husband and 5-month-old girl for another man. Her family isn’t speaking to her and everyone who is close to her believes she has post partum depression. She won’t return my calls or emails and my feelings about it are a mix of worry for her and anger for what she has done.

    So when I read the headline, it was tough for me to feel sympathetic. I have to say, over the last few weeks that phrase, “What kind of mother does this?” has gone through my head. However as I read this post I felt like maybe I should be trying a little harder to be there for my friend, and maybe she, like you, deserves a little compassion and understanding right now. So thanks for have the courage to write about something so personal and difficult.

    • Ya my mom walked out on me and my little sister. I had a very hard time reading this mostly because I don’t feel any sympathy for my mother, and so I bring that bias to the authors writing, even though I know that isn’t fair. I must say though my mom walking out hasn’t really destroyed our family my Dad has tried to fill every role we may be missing, and it has brought me closer to my remaining family. It sounds like the author is trying to stay in her children’s lives and for that I applaud her, it’s more than my mom ever did.

    • Leaving a marriage doesn’t have to mean abandoning your children forever and ever. Sometimes mothers physically leave children with fathers for the exact reason stated by the author – to give the children a more stable and/or better life. I wouldn’t judge your best friend simply because she left her marriage. My fiance has parents who divorced when he was young and they have tried their best to raise him together. He’s never felt abandoned by them at any point.

      Now, if she wants to forget she ever had a child, then yes, I will judge her then. 😛 If you bring a child into this world, you DO have a responsibility to that child!

      • Im in the same situation, my husband wont leave, hed rather stay in a toxic marriage, where kids hear us fight and say words that no children sjould hear..So my choice is to leave….for my kids sake, but it doesnt jean im abandoning my kids….I chose to leave a toxic environment.

  2. I don’t know where this has left me, it’s emotionally so highly charged, and I don’t feel in a position to comment, as I can’t even get my head around the massive emotional whirlwind. Thank you for sharing that, it must be very difficult for you.

    But my goodness. WOW. Incredible… what a beautiful piece of writing. I felt I was there, for the moment I read the descriptions.

    I think your children will be too, which leads me to ask, have you any intention of sharing this with them at a later date (when they are mature adults perhaps)???

  3. This made me cry. I too left my husband and beautiful daughter. The years of mental abuse finaly broke me and I left. It was the hardest thing to do. He made good money and could pay for the house and food. I had a minimum wage job that gave me maybe 10 hours a week. I stayed on a co-workers couch in her tiny house with her, her bf and 5 kids. I beat mydelf up every day thinking what kind of mother would leave her child, how could I do this to my baby? It was the darkest time in my life. But now 6 years later my life has turned around. I own my own home, I am engaged to a wonderful man, I have a 4 year old and BEST of all I have my dear beautiful oldest daughter 3/4 of the time. If I had stayed with her father I would have snapped and either killed him or myself. Sometimes you have to do something drastic to make a better life for everyone.

    • What I’m not understanding is the fact that all the relationships were abusive, be it mental or whatnot. Why would you leave your children with that kind of person? And it sounds like it has come down to the man being able to financially support them, however, all the women who have commented already had jobs. I watched, almost on a daily basis, my mother and step-father physically fight with each other. One night, I even saw the cops show up and haul both of them to jail. So many nights I wished my mother would just take us away from there. I have a son. If I needed to protect myself from someone abusive, I would also do everything I can to protect my children as well. Why should they live with such an awful person?

      • He was only abusive to me. Never to her. And while it is easy to judge from the outside, you never know how you would act untill you are in that situaton. And while yes I had a job it paid less than $100 a week. He made $5000 a month. And as soon as I had a stable job and place to live I got her back.

      • Women make the decision to leave their children in the home for all sorts of reasons, and I don’t think it is ever a choice made lightly. Deciding to leave an abusive relationship can change a woman’s life in every realm – her housing, income, transportation, parenting, community, religion, friendships, safety, etc are often all impacted. It’s often an unstable time.

        Witnessing violence is horrible for children, experiencing violence is horrible for women, and leaving them with a partner who hurts you is also a horrible choice to have to make… but sometimes it is the least horrible choice. Here are some reasons women I’ve worked with* have decided to flee without their children:

        – a woman who is not safe/has no control cannot protect her children; sometimes getting herself safe is the best way to protect them
        – often the abuse is only aimed at the woman, by removing herself she is not increasing or decreasing the risk to the children (as GeekyMama points out)
        – once she is out of the home, it is often easier for a woman to seek a parenting order or get authorities involved
        – obviously, there are the financial concerns you mentioned – if she is now homeless or couch-surfing, or underemployed, where is she taking the children?
        – while DV shelters take children, the stay is often short and teen boys are sometimes not allowed, similarly, those under 18 are not allowed in adult homeless shelters, and family shelters can be few and dar between
        – if a mother cannot provide for the physical safety of the children (housing, food, health, education) there is a risk of the children being apprehended – this is heartbreaking, but many jurisdictions still do not list witnessing DV as abuse, but do list failure to provide as abuse
        – women are at the highest risk of homicide immediately after leaving, and for the year after – this is THE most dangerous time, having the children with her may not make them safer

        I understand the gut instinct to want to see kids out of those situations. But when it comes to fleeing abuse, women are usually doing the best they can to stay alive, and whole. Leaving the children isn’t about taking the easy way out, it’s about assessing the risk and trying to make the best choice so that you all make it.

        * disclaimer: I work at a second stage DV shelter, I hope I’m not too riled up, I’m just sensitive to these issues 🙂

        • My mom left me with my dad because it was an abusive relationship. When she left, I felt relief because I knew I had a way out of the abuse. I knew I could have a better life. I’m thankful my mom left, and I love my life. And I love that now, my dad is a better person, and I have relationships with both of them.

          I don’t think the author of this article was in an abusive relationship based on what she wrote, and I think it’s unfair to assume so.

          • Hi, I’m not sure if you were replying to me, or the thread, but I just wanted to agree that I don’t think the OP indicated any abuse. I was responding to Jen’s comment about GeekyMama’s story, which was about the abuse.

            I’m really glad that things worked out in your family. Relationships and family are hard, and it’s wonderful to hear about people who find a way to make it work 🙂

          • Im doing this – Leaving my children with their dad after more than 10 years of abuse of all kind except physical – and this is probably the reason my daughter is encouraging me so much and almost phrasing me for my decision, she is extremely happy for me and i wonder if in some way she is feeling the same as you.

      • I am currently going through this situation where I had to leave my verbally and sometimes physically abusive husband. He is a good dad. He loves the kids very much. He would abuse me but not them. If he was abusive to my kids I would not leave them. When u are starting over from scratch it is really hard and u do not want your kids to suffer. It hurts, I am hurting every night, but God will give me strenght.

    • Thank you Loki for your response.. this is not originally my thread but your words are good for those of us that “HAVE” left… this is my post.
      Time for a moment of truth here. I AM “one of those women” who left their children, I used to be a mother but I am no longer, at least I don’t think of myself as one anymore because I made a bad mistake, (when people ask if I have children I have always said yes-butt-they live with their father. I birthed them, breast fed them, and diaper changed them through many years).
      Hopefully my story can help someone that has been left by a mother to understand why. Or, maybe some of my reasons and issues will help someone not make my mistakes.
      Because yess this was a HUGE mistake.
      My son was 7 and my daughter was 5 when I left. I will NEVER forget that day I decided I was going to leave or I was going to kill myself. I took my children to the bus stop that morning, looked at them both, hugged them as tight as I could, looking them both in the eyes and told them “NEVER FORGET I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART PLEASE”. I watched them get on the bus to school, and took the bare necessities (some clothes, my old stuffed animal I had dragged around for the last 20 years) from my house and left, just drove away (yes I cried, cried some more and yes I also stopped at my best friends house, she was great, she told me to think about what I was doing, but it was to far gone now). It was a relief (I was a bad mother to even consider this anyways) and a heart break all at once (I was in a different world, it all seems a dream to me now).
      I can give all kind of excuses as to why I did it. Abuse (his abuse), Drugs (him not me), infidelity (again him), and yes probably some mental issues (on my part, depression and bi polar, now I have found out). I will not say it is all his fault. I had avenues to pursue, but at the time I honestly thought I had used them all up. I had called lawyers, police, and family. All the time telling them I was fine.. everything is fine, and asking what would happen IF I took the kids out of state, out of school, IF I just packed them up and poofed, IF I decided I couldn’t be there anymore.
      I heard things from jail time if you take the kids out of state, to law suits to.. well u get the just of it. It was frightening. On top of everything else I was dealing with in my life. It was too much.
      I am not even sure if there was a specific moment I decided to leave them behind. Other then that moment when I hugged them goodbye and knew I was leaving one way or another (yes I really was considering killing myself). That is the moment I remember the most.
      So maybe that was the moment I decided in my head I was leaving for good.
      Anyways from that moment on my life has been hell.. I have been called an bad mother, and egg donor, a black sheep, an mother who abandons her children, made to feel like I was worse then nothing while trying to fight to get my children back.
      My kids are 22 and 20 now and I can tell you they have heard nothing but bad things about me. If and when I do hear from them it is a blessing from god and makes my heart soar. I hope to think they had a better life with their father then they ever would have had with me. They have been to hawaii, and many cruises. And as far as I know been treated very well, and gotten to know their new sisters from his new wife (that he moved into our house 5 days after I was gone, really 5 days?). So all is not bad in their lives. Plus another side of a family they never had before me. So all is not lost.
      I still have hope in my heart that someday they will come back to me. I thought that was when they were 18 and no longer under his control. But now i’ve realized that well I lost any part of them I ever could have called to myself long ago.
      Leaving is a HUGE HUGE HUGE decision. Be sure if you’re leaving your children behind it’s for the best, and NEVER assume that they will still call you “MOM” when they are old enough to be a part of your life. No matter how much you love them and fought for them (many states, many lawyers, all the same info, I left and it was impossible) in the years between, nothing is a given unless your loaded with money or gods grace. I hope I helped atleast one person to understand that not all absent mothers are not cold hearted. SOMETIMES it’s a momentary decision. A HUGE mistake. Something that I personally wish I could take back with all my heart and soul.

  4. My sister recently left her husband and 4 daughters after dealing with years of dissatisfaction with her marriage. She chose to leave her daughters with their father because she didn’t want to move them to a new home or a new school (they have moved several times b/c of their father’s work), she didn’t want them to have to be left with sitters when she had to work nights, and she didn’t want them to be separated from extended family and friends. She’s taken so much flack from people who were supposed to be friends, not to mention coworkers and near strangers. But it’s proving to be what’s best for her kids, and I hope she’ll learn to hold her head up, like the author.

    • i think your sister did the right thing. it seems like there’s a crazy double standard when a couple with kids breaks up…that it’s the mother’s responsibility to stay with the kids, and a mother who doesn’t gets the whole “what kind of mother does that” judgement from the world, even if it makes more sense for the kids to stay with the dad for whatever reason, and even if mom stays involved and supportive in the children’s lives. meanwhile, if the situation was reversed and the kids stay with mom, and dad leaves, but stays involved, people praise his involvement “oh what a great divorced dad”….TOTAL DOUBLE STANDARD. it’s always sad and difficult when relationships end, especially when there are children involved, but i think BOTH parents have the right to leave, and BOTH parents (obviously provided they are good parents) have the responnsibility to stay involved.

    • Let her hold her head up!I left my teenage sons with their Dad on the same basis but it is hell to go through .You hurt the whole time and I was beaten up by people I thought was my friends .My youngest son 16 believe I abandon him .If I stayed longer I would have commited suic

  5. This is an incredibly brave piece of writing, talking about an incredibly brave life. Thanks to the editors for running it and the author for writing it. Lots to think about here.

    As a new mother, the part that spoke to me most were the things of her children’s that she took with her. Tactile things, not images.

  6. I made the heartwrenching decision 4 years ago to send my 2 kids to live with their dad so that I could take care of myself. I lost my best friend in the process. I had someone I thought was a friend tell me “I always wonder what sort of horrible things a woman has done when she doesn’t have custody” knowing that my kids don’t live with me. My boys are absolutely thriving, and I am feeling emotionally stable for the first time I can remember in my adult life. Sometimes making the wrong choice in other people’s eyes can be the best possible choice. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • I took pictures… I even had pictures sent from old friends I thought I didn’t have anymore. And I save every picture of them I can find online.. I lost all my material possessions after I left. I had nothing but memories and pictures. I treasure them. I didn’t exactly loose my friends but I did pull away from the few I had. I was headed no where.. and had nothing. Just my life.

  7. My initial reaction was probably like most of how could any mother ever leave their children, but the more I thought about it and put myself in the shoes of a woman in a failing marriage the more I can understand. As much as I hate to admit it, my husband is the better parent. His patience always outlasts mine, he’s so nurturing, and caring that I know my that if my children had to live with only one parent he would be the better choice. I hope to never have to cross this bridge and it is very brave of you to write this and to share your journey with us. Thank you.

  8. This is so hard.
    Over 12 years ago I had to make this choice – stay with my mentally abusive possessive husband or get out. I knew that he would never leave and with him being the bread winner there was no way I could provide for them. Not to mention taking them away from everyone and everything they loved (except me of course). I also know my (then)husband well enough to know that he would try something dramatic if I took HIS children away. So I did it, I left them. My youngest was 4 – it was brutal. I drove to their house over 15 miles every night to put them to bed and then drove back to my little place I shared with friends then to work. Every day. I stayed at my brothers on weekends with my little ones trying to pretend that nothing was wrong or different.
    Incredibly enough, they turned out amazing. The time it took to get to here was hard. They were upset with me especially when they became teens. But they love me. I try every day to be a great mom; to prove to myself and others around me that leaving my 3 oldest children was the best thing for them (and me). I have good days and I have bad days with all of these memories – but they are now seeing a healthy mom who is in a great marriage with a man who loves and respects her as well as adores them.
    Thank you for being brave in writing this – I am not sure that in any other venue and without your prompting I would have done the same.

  9. In the early spring of 2010 I left a 16 yr long abusive marriage with my 5 kids. Reading this tore at my heart for 3 reasons.
    1…over that 16 yrs more then once i wanted to pack that bag and leave by myself because i knew getting all 5 of them out would be hard and i was alone and isolated. I understand the need and desire to leave a bad marriage.
    2…i stayed for 16 yrs because i could not see a way out with my kids and leaving them was not an option for me.
    3…i allowed myself to be judgmental you, that makes me so sad…
    Thank you for writing this! It made me realize a place in myself that needs work. I hope that as the years go by your children will see the love you have for them as I clearly did the 2nd time i red your article.

  10. I loved the piece. Do we ever ask a man “how can you leave your children” when he moves out? Why is it that dads can still be great fathers when they don’t live in the house, but if a mother makes a decision to be the one to leave, there’s something broken there? My aunt and uncle are going through a separation, and she is the one to move out. The girls stay with their dad, in their house and go to their same school. Until they figure out their marriage, keeping the kids with their dad is the best solution, and may even continue to be the best thing if they get divorced.

    This is a case of a mother doing what is best for her children…realizing that community, stability, and financial considerations may trump constant access to mom. It sounds like the author made the best decision for her kids…and that’s what mothers do, even if it means hardships for her. I applaud this SO HARD.

    • I think people do ask this of men, but in different ways – it’s all part of the same sexism that permeates parenthood. Not only do we look down on men who leave, but we have institutionalized this kind of sexism (priority custody given to women in the courts – at least in my jurisdiction) because we think of men as such incapable parents that we have lower expectations of them. This is 100% related to the “what kind of a mother leaves her children” because it’s like asking “what kind of a mother would leave her children in the care of a man?”

      • I wanted to add – you asked “Why is it that dads can still be great fathers when they don’t live in the house, but if a mother makes a decision to be the one to leave, there’s something broken there?” I would argue that this is because we have lower expectations of dads. They’re babysitting, not just being a parent. They wouldn’t care as much because they’re not as attached to their children as women so it’d easier to leave etc. etc. so them just being in their kids’ lives is enough.

        I don’t mean to disagree with you at all, in fact, I vehemently agree with what you’re saying, but I just want to add that there is a really ugly side of this that looks at both sexes in a really shitty way.

        • “I would argue that this is because we have lower expectations of dads. They’re babysitting, not just being a parent. They wouldn’t care as much because they’re not as attached to their children as women so it’d easier to leave etc. etc. so them just being in their kids’ lives is enough.”

          We definitely talked about a lot of this over here: http://offbeatmama.com/2012/04/equal-parenting. 🙂 It’s a great discussion!

  11. Great, ballsy, honest writing. I’m enjoying poking around her blog… OBM is usually the only “m0mmy blog” I dare read, but I may keep up with this one now too!

  12. I almost didn’t read the rest of the article after glancing at the title. My mother walked out on my family after my parent’s divorced, so I’m clearly a little biased. I think I decided I wanted to read what you had to say, in the hopes that it would make me see my mother’s actions differently. It didn’t, but that’s ok because it is obvious your decision was not a selfish one, and that you really are putting you’re kids first. I hope as your children grow older and begin to have a better understanding of the situation that they will not resent you or hold it against you, and that they will know your decision was a selfless act of love.

  13. Thank you for sharing this. I think you are a wonderful mother who clearly gave much thought to what living situation would be best for your children and are doing everything you can to maintain a strong and loving relationship with them. Thank you.

  14. I too made the decision to let my son reside with his father when he and I split because it was the best thing for him; I was barely making minimum wage, was living in a friend’s spare bedroom and couldn’t provide the extra care my autistic child needed. It broke my heart to leave him, but it was more important to me that I do what was best for *him* and not for me. As expected, no one really understood. If a mother’s job is to do what’s best for her children, sometimes its recognizing that what’s best for them isn’t what she can provide. I just wish more people understood that. Thank you for writing this.

  15. A truly powerful and thought-provoking post. I remember stumbling across Sarah’s blog a few years ago (before I became a Mama). I am so sad to hear her marriage imploded but it sounds like she and her ex are handling their situation much grace and love for their children. She made a brave and heart-wrenching difficult decision. And my hat goes off to her! Being a Mama is never easy…

  16. Hmm, I’m curious about the title choice for the OBM repost. It seems deliberately misleading (“leave” to me implies “never see again”) and designed to shock, especially as compared to the original post’s title.

    I wouldn’t usually expect that of OBM, and not sure if it was selected by the original author or not, so genuinely curious about the editing decision?

    • When Sarah submitted this post to us, the title she gave it was “Mother leaves husband and kids.” I did edit the title a bit to fit our site, but I think this title retains the meaning of the title the author submitted it with.

      It all depends on how you define the word “leave.” I don’t think it has to mean never see again — she very clearly made a decision to leave her household, which her family was part of.

      Also, if you ever have questions about my editorial process, feel free to contact me directly.

      • Thanks for the info! I do agree that it was my interpretation of or reaction to the the word “leave”. Definitely didn’t mean it as a critique, was genuinely curious. 🙂

  17. Good for you! Thanks for writing this. I think you made the best choice you had, which is what the game is all about. Families work in all different kinds of ways, I’m glad you’re finding the way it works for you!

  18. At the risk of stirring up too much controversy, would we be applauding this as a “brave” move if it were a man? Or would it be just another case of a male shirking his responsibilities as a father so he could stay out late at night, drinking with his buddies and chasing women? I’m not sure I’m OK with the generally quick acceptance of this mother’s move when I gather we’d be exceedingly harsh and unforgiving if it were a Dad.

    Comments welcome. I’m honestly trying to get a handle on this. As a dad, my “heart” is not at ease as I read this. (And yes, I know there are cases on “both sides” where the parent leaving is actually the mature choice, so I’m not saying it’s impossible. My experience with men, however, has been that those are the rare cases, and suspicions tend to be proven fairly often).

    • Good point, and I was actually thinking of it in the reverse when I first read it. We would NOT be scolding a man as unmanly and not loving his children if he lived in a nearby city and traveled to see them three days a week. That is rather typical in a divorce. Yet, we as a culture do take a gasp when it is a woman/mom who does this.

      So, my initial take was the opposite of yours — we were judging women like this mom more harshly than we would judge a father.

      But I can see your point and perspective, too. I do think, however, that it is fairly standard in divorce situations — which are common of course — for the father to be in this position, though. So, I honestly don’t see this much judgment for a man unless he is neglecting the children financially or emotionally.

      But I could be totally wrong on this, too.

      Good question.

    • I think the work Brave is being used is because it’s speaking about a subject that is very taboo among mothers. It is appropriate because she is putting this out there knowing the harsh judgement she may get. I am sure there are plenty of people that read this and were disgusted and simply didn’t put their negative comments up out of respect for the website and the other mothers. I think it would also be brave if a man wrote it because anytime you open up about a very private part of your life you are doing a brave thing. We may also be calling her brave for different reasons. Some may think the act of leaving was brave while others like myself were referring to the act of publishing this. My father left my mother when we were very young and I am so grateful to him for it. He was very abusive to my mother and once confided in her that he was scared he may start abusing us as well, so he left. We would go up to a year at a time without seeing him, but we still love him and have a great relationship because he was so honest with us about it. I adore my father and in my opinion he is a very brave man.

    • Honestly, I think the reason I consider her brave is because it sounds like she tried to make the best decision, and stand by it, despite the huge social repurcussions and lack of understanding from probably almost everyone.

      I’ll admit I don’t know too much about it, but I feel like a father who leaves his family does not get the whole “how could a mother leave her kids!?” quite as often as a mother who does so. It’s a double-standard, but it’s there, and it is brave for someone to face that stigma to make the right choice. A stigma that not as many men would face, I feel.

  19. This post made me cry within just a few sentences. I commend the author for writing so candidly about such a tough subject and for doing the best she could for herself and for her kids (not to mention for the father too). This post is a huge reminder of how grateful I should be to be with someone whom I’ll never have to leave. Thank you Offbeat Mama for continuing to post such ballsy, controversial pieces and for giving all us readers a chance to see into lives completely different from our own on a regular basis. I swear I’m a better parent for this site…in the community that I live in we parents tend to be mostly in similar situations in life so it is such a gift to be able to read about so many different perspectives.

  20. Like many others the title had me assuming the worst, but I think the story is vague enough that there is no right or wrong just dealing with the reality of divorce. It made me think of the novel “Loving Frank”, by Nancy Horan. Is it better to teach your children to live a lie and stay, or leave but live an honest life. I dont know the answer, but in these times of limitless opportunity for women I see the question being raised more and more. Personally I think when you choose to raise a kid you are choosing to think and act in only their best interest for 18 years(till they can shape their own lives).

  21. Though it was heartbreaking for me to read, I was glad that I did. My sister is going through divorce, and though she doesn’t have children, it is still difficult because there is that dividing of community. You have not truly left your children; what you have left is a place of unhappiness that you could not deal with anymore. Your mental and emotional health are just as important as your physical health. My heart goes out to you, my sister.

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