The Rise of Walk-Away Moms

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Have you ever had one of those days when you just felt like leaving?

Running away from everything – kids, husband, partner, housework, cooking, job, cleaning, pets…everything.

I sometimes have moments of fight or flight, moments when I look at everyone and everything around me and think, WTF? Do I stand there and keep pushing through?

Or do I run for the hills, never to look back?

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The thoughts of running last only seconds before I’m back taking care of business, but that’s not always the case with women, especially those with children.

In fact, recent studies have shown that the number of moms who are running away from it all, now dubbed walk-away moms, is on the rise.

It’s a scary trend, but if we take take a moment and step back, I think it’s a reality we can all relate to on some level. We’ve all wanted to run away. If you’re a mom and you’re shaking your head “No way! Not me!”, your nose is growing like Pinocchio.

As perfectly described by Peggy Drexler, author of Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family and Raising Boys Without Men”:

“Most mothers are familiar with the feeling — for some it’s more fleeting than for others — of total exhaustion, frustration, a sense of being overwhelmed by duty and the responsibility of raising children.

Maybe some indulge in a momentary fantasy of running away.”

Although there are no solid statistics, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of single fathers has been rising steadily, from more than 600,000 in 1982 to more than 2 million in 2011.

More walk-away moms are also coming forward to tell their stories – explaining why they felt the need to leave their families behind. 

Many experts cite the growing “me-first” world we now live in as the problem – clinical narcissism – which has grown by 30% over the past 20 years.

We now live in a world where we are strongly encouraged to think of ourselves and focus on our individuality.

Other studies indicate that the stress levels are so high, some women are simply unable to cope with parenthood.

They were not prepared for the life altering changes and never become accustomed to being a mom.

You might scorn these women, label them as “bad mothers.” But are they really so horrible?

Did they do more harm than good by walking away? Is it better for a person to stay in a situation where they increasingly become hostile, neglectful and possibly abusive?

Is that reality better for children?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, no.

I personally know of families where children were raised or are being raised in single-father homes.

In several situations, the mothers were simply unfit to parent – heavy alcohol or drug abusers.

Another situation, the mother did not want the responsibility of kids or marriage.

She left her family for a high profile career. Although she still speaks with her children several times a year, she is and will always be an absent parent.

The children were 2 and 5 when she made the decision to walk away. There were difficulties at first, but their father raised them well. Today, they are well-adjusted, productive members of society.

I’m not going to lie – a part of me believes she ditched her responsibilities and completely abandoned her children.

There is also a part of me that feels they were better off without her and that she did the right thing by walking away.

She is too self-centered and selfish to truly place anyone before herself.

When you’re a mom, nothing comes before your children.

I don’t care what the so-called geniuses say about individuality and focusing on our own needs.

Kids NEED direction, support and love in order to grow and flourish. As parents, we understand and accept this as a normal part of parenthood. Sure, we make time for ourselves but never at the expense of our children.

What do you think of this growing trend? Do you think mothers should stick out parenting no matter what?

6 COMMENTS

  1. I left my family because I could no longer bear to try and be the wife I thought I should be. I asked my husband to stay at his brother’s until we could sort ourselves, but he said, “I won’t leave my family.” So I said, “Well, I guess I will have to.”
    Our youngest 3 were 10, 12, and 14 at the time. I never missed a Christmas; first day of school; birthday; or any family event, even sleeping on my ex’s couch to be there for the kids when they woke.
    Nobody says a thing when a marriage falls apart and the Dad leaves, but OH DEAR GOD! The comments, criticism, and hatred towards me was unbearable!

  2. I think any parent who walks away is awful because children are precious and amazing in so many ways. Now I understand if the person is toxic like drugs or abusive but if you know this then don’t have kids with that person hell you shouldn’t even be with them yourself. I have thought about runaway but taking my children with me they are my word I don’t function properly without them. So I understand there is always stories to why so I don’t judge unless they choose something over there children. There is help out there.

  3. I wish this had been a thing back when I was a kid. I was 8 when my baby brother was born, and already the oldest of 3 sisters. My mom already suffered from some kind of mental disorder that was compounded by post partum depression and tater by 2 miscarriages. At 8 years old I became responsible for my 3 younger siblings, as well as trying to nurse my depressed and volatile mother back to health.

  4. I was a foster mom for 25 yrs. Yes there were moms that were addicts that chose drugs over their kids. But I also saw women walk away for a boyfriend who didn’t want her kids and I saw women walk away for job opportunities. Most of the time the kids were better off. Whatever the reason was, these poor kids didn’t ask to grow up in a foster home instead of their own homes. I can’t tell you how many nights I rocked a sobbing child to sleep. Many times I’d find them in their room on their knees begging God to bring their mommy back. Even the ones who were horribly abused were telling God that they’d do anything if they could just have their mommy back. I loved on and treated every child like they were my own but they always had the thought of why momma, why? What did I do? Women really need to do some soul searching before having a baby that they’re not ready to commit 18 years to. Birth control can be gotten for free in many cases and there are couples who would do anything to adopt. Don’t wait until the child is old enough to remember you because the psychological damage will be done no matter how many years they are in counseling.

  5. I think there’s a BIG something missing here – the expectation that women continue to be the homemaker/mother/wife of the past stay at home mom AND to also have a full time career. That expectation isn’t on men unless women DO walk away. To say it’s stressful is an understatement.

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