I was on the Dr. Phil show last week. As some of you know. The whole experience was awesome. I would do it again in a second. Even the flying part!!
It was never clarified. Nothing was EVER brought up about why I was on the Dr. Phil Show with Maria Housden. It looked like I was just a random mom with a random opinion about mothers who chose to leave their children.
Many of you, my friends, know my back story. So it made perfect sense to you that I was on THAT particular show. But to many of my new friends who have just started reading my blog, you are probably vague on the details. And for those of you who are finding my blog, after seeing the show and through a random google search, you’re probably wondering WTH, right? Who was that Melissa chick in the front row who made such a passionate outburst. And WHY was a video of her family shown?
Well, I’m going to tell you why.
It was stated on the show that I am a mother of 5 children. That…is the truth. 3 I popped out myself, thank you very much. My husband has two from his first marriage who live with us because their mother chose to give up her physical custody. She claims that she was bullied into it. But honestly, while I will gently humor her, I was a witness to how easily she signed the form. There was not a single ounce of intimidation involved.
Now granted, their mother didn’t actually “leave” them. She is still in the same county as us. She sees her children often and as hands on as she is capable of. She is a kind woman and everyone is very lucky that we get along as well as we do. The kids get to grow up with their mother and step-mother getting along and accepting each other. And that is a gift to these kids. They don’t ever have to feel guilty about loving either one of us.
But. And that, my friends, is a bigger but than the one I sit on.
The fact remains that HER children live with me. And she can pick or choose when she feels like seeing them. They are along for her ride.
And THAT is why I was asked to be on the Dr. Phil Show. Because of my opinion regarding women who leave their children. Which I am passionately opinionated about.
Women don’t leave. Unless there is something fundamentally emotionally wrong with them and the children are better off being raised in an environment that their mother isn’t a part of. Like living in the back of a tool shed, shooting up heroin. Or, living on the streets. Or an insane asylum. Sometimes there are other varying degrees of extenuating circumstances.
But selfish reasons…unacceptable.
One can argue until their face is all blue and blotchy that all through time, men have left and no one bats an eye. That…is not true. There is no excuse, male or female, for LEAVING your innocent children. Who NEVER asked to be brought into this world.
If you look at most animal species though, the male leaves. It’s just the way of nature. In the animal kingdom, however, it’s instinctual not choice.
When a parent leaves, it’s a conscious decision. Good, bad or indifferent. Yes, it’s more commonplace for the father to leave. When the mommy leaves…it’s shocking.
I am living the aftermath of when a mother leaves their children. They are forever changed. From the second that mother leaves, she changes the course of who those children were going to be.
My stepson lives in anticipation of seeing his mother. He is forever stunted from her leaving. My stepdaughter has come to expect to be disappointed by her. Constantly.
I live with children who were left.
The woman who left them is hard to get hold of. She leaves on trips whenever she feels like it. She sleeps in. She doesn’t have to make school lunches or help with homework. She doesn’t have loads and loads of laundry to wash, fold and put away. She can lay in bed when she has period cramps or a sore throat.
She leads her own life. The way she wants.
That. Is why I say that women who leave are selfish. Selfish. Selfish.
And when Dr. Phil said that we have an unwritten contract with our children, from the moment they are conceived. I wanted to go on stage and high five him with a woot woot.
Because it’s the truth.
And if you can’t honor that contract. The one you are supposed to seal in blood, sweat, tears from the moment of conception…
You don’t deserve to be called Mom. Mother. Mommy. Ma. Mum. WHATEVER.
Your children come first.
You come in a close second.
Rock and Roll Mama says
I’m glad that you’re there for them, girly.
I was adopted as an infant, and feel that that sort of leaving is actually a best case scenario. A teenage girl who knew she wasn’t ready to honor that contract, and gave me to people who were aching to. And have fulfilled it with vigor every day since.
My younger brother was also adopted, and he bears signs of being left. He doesn’t trust women easily, and picks ones who treat him rudely. He says he never wonders about his birth family, and I think, HOW??? I know mine, and while I’m glad to, I also know who my family is.
My childhood best friend’s mom left, cross country, to be with another man, when she was 3. My mom did daycare, and cared for her and her brother for 10 years. She would often comment, in private, about how those children were never the same. Now that we’re both adults, my friend talks about the impact of her mother’s choice- and it was a mushroom cloud.
I can’t judge any other person, because there are always circumstances. But I can say that I would die before I ever left my children.
Again, I’m so glad her children have you.
Tara R. says
Amen! My step-brother’s mom left, handing him over to my mom and step-dad. He had to move to a different state, it was horrible for a couple of years. He had so many problems, and it was directly linked to her abandonment. I could not agree more with you on this. Today SB is closer to my mom that he could ever be to his bio-mom.
Being a mom is a full-time, life-time vocation. It’s not a job you can walk away from when it’s inconvenient, it’s a calling we should cherish.
I totally regret letting my son move in with his dad, as you know. And I will never make that mistake again. I can’t imagine just stepping out and letting someone else take over. I don’t get it.
Very well said! Too bad the Dr. Phil Show wasn’t on the ball enough to let you say it.
Melisa with one S (PH) says
Great post. I wish you had gotten the chance to say these things on tv, but posting it here is excellent too. 🙂
On a limb with Claudia says
YAY!! Go go go!! I am so with you! And I see kids ignored or abandoned every where by selfish people. Good for you for not being one of them!
Kelly @Childhood says
Thank you for posting this. It brings things into perspective and reminds us all as mothers not to take for granted what a truly wonderful gift we have in family…
You know that I love you, but I disagree with a lot of this. Not with your experience, or observations, but the whole “children come first”.
You know how when you’re on the plane, before the Xanax kicks in, the flight attendant says that if you are traveling with a small child or someone who needs assistance, in the event that emergency oxygen masks descend, put your own mask first before helping the child? I think that’s applicable to child rearing too. If parents don’t take care of themselves first and foremost, they simple can’t parent. yes, it’s a generalization and an exaggeration, but as those go, it’s not a bad one.
Divorce happens and parents don’t live together, which means that one parent has to leave. It’s usually the father. And socially, it’s not a big deal. No one questions what kind of a father would leave his children, it’s the default norm.
What if it’s the mother? Why should she be demonized if she is doing what it best for her family? The fact that you and I can’t imagine giving up physical custody of our children doesn’t make it the right choice for someone else.
I’ve met fathers who were better parents than their wives, absolutely. And I can’t help but think that there are times when giving custody to the father is selfless and loving. Even though it’s heartbreaking.
I agree wholeheartedly.
My mum left when we I was little. She married another man and pretty started her new life. I was raised by my father and my stepmother. I, for the life of me could not and would never understand why she didn’t come back for us when her 2nd husband died. She didn’t have any children with him, she had the financial capacity to take us back and raise us. But she didn’t, instead she hooked up with another guy. I don’t care if I’m gonna sound like a bad daughter, but my mother was selfish, selfish, selfish.
She could have chosen us her kids, but she simply didn’t.
Sorry for the typos, haven’t had my coffee yet.
Mommy X says
Thank you for being an advocate for those of us who are left by our mothers. You’re right, no real mother leaves by choice. It is an emotional sickness. I hope my mother saw that show, though I’m not sure that it would even make any difference for her because she is missing that emotional connection that makes a mom a mom.
And, respectfully, to your friend Marinka…children DO come first. Children are your legacy. This is not about divorce from your husband, it’s about women who divorce themselves emotionally from their children. Divorced parents CAN have normal, well-adjusted kids IF they can also remember that KIDS COME FIRST. (Or perhaps if they marry someone as amazing as Melissa who loves those kids like they are her own.) Oh, and don’t forget that they are the ones who take care of us when we’re old. Paybacks are a bitch.
Just two cents from a kid who was left by her mother and still struggles at age 36. My brother still struggles at nearly 40.
Bravo! My kids come first…period. I could never, would never leave them under any circumstances. While I don’t believe I’m here to pass judgment on others, it is inconceivable to me that any parent would choose to leave their children.
I am not a parent so my .02 doesn’t count.
That being said, I think that there are def. circumstances when it’s okay for the mom to leave. Writing a book? NOT OKAY.
Sometimes, though? I wish my mom would have left. It would have made my life so much easier. What about those moms? The moms who verbally abuse and break a child down. Why can’t they be selfish and leave?
Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] says
Have to say, I agree with you.
Unless you are physically incapable of caring for your own children (bullied or not), you should be their primary caregiver, and at the least, their co-parent.
To close to home to comment right now- but thank you.
It seems like a big point that is at issue here is what constitutes “leaving” the kids. For women, it seems, the standard is higher than it is for men. A medicore amount of involvement from a mom would be judged more harshly than it would for dad. We expect moms to want to be more involved.
This is unfair. We know this is a cultural biaas–moms are supposed to take care of the kids–and our kids will know it, too.
So they might have to deal with the pain of not being rejected by just any parent, but being rejected by MOM, who is supposed to put them firs, who is supposed to be the one who fights to keep them and get custody of them .
How devastating it must be not to have that as a step-mom. You are living with the repercusssions in all their complexity. Every child wants to feel like they come first. What’s the best way for parents to provide that without suffering too much themselves?
Tiaras & Tantrums says
I’m going to print this out and send this to my own mother who I have not spoken to in over 20 years! This was my life . . . YOU ARE AMAZING! I wish I had a replacement like you when I was growing up
So. Yeah. In other words, feeling abandoned by mom is much worse than feeling abandoned by dad.
And as a step mom, you are on the front lines of sorting it all out. Good luck to you!
And sometimes it’s not even a very close second.
and that is okay.
THIS is why I have always loved you!
I love that you love those children as your own. You are the biggest woman with the biggest heart to love and care for those children, meet their needs, despite their selfish mother.
I am brought to tears because I am a child of parental abandonment. A parent doesn’t have to “leave” emotionally, physically because of divorce sure, but not emotionally. That is a coherent decision in a good majority of cases. Which is the case here….checking out for selfish reasons, treating their children more like the family dog than as something they created.
These children, like myself, grow up with serious abandonment and self-esteem issues and man is that damaging. I know I hate being damaged goods. But by the grace of god I was blessed to have a step-father and a loving step-mother where my father checked the Eff out altogether.
You my friend are so lovely, so genuine, and I am so blessed to know such a wonderful person!! xoxo
ABSOLUTELY!! I don’t think ANY parent should abandon their children unless they are physically (or mentally) incapable of raising them. I can’t imagine leaving Peanut to pursue a hobby. Shame on that mom and any mom or dad that does that. You made the baby now RAISE him or her! You are no longer allowed to be frivolous!
Melissa.. I know I normally just say “I love you, your blog”.. la la la. I say it because it is true.. I say it because you SAY what is on your mind..you put you into each post.. and this post shines in my eyes.. I cant imagine being abandoned by my mother.. You are doing a wonderful amazing job raising ALL your kids..xoxo
Being a mother is a gift, an honour. A life-long commitment. To not live up to that responsibility is an utter shame, and detrimental to the well-being of those children.
Just because a woman carries a child for 9 months in their womb does not give them the ability to be a mom.
I agree with you. Being a mom comes first, no matter what. You have to toughen up when you become a mom and realize the luxuries you had before you became a mom are not going to come as easily. Sure, take care of yourself, too! Spend some alone time, go on a weekend getaway, but stop being selfish. Raise your children with love and with respect. Teach them, play with them, be there for them, ever present. You’ll be tired, but YOU chose to have children. So there. Seriously, I whine and complain sometimes that I never get to go to the movies as often as I used to, etc. etc. but at the end of the day, I’m thankful I’m a mom to my boys and I want to be a great mom for them forever.
I have a “sister in law” (term used very lightly) that left her children. She is a selfish, conniving, mentally unstable witch and I thank God everyday that she left. But her girls constantly wish for her to be home, and it’s heartbreaking.
She shows up just long enough to get their hopes up and then disappears for weeks again.
I agree that as a mom, it’s unfathomable to me the thought of leaving my children. I would fight for them till the death!
Even if you were bullied, wouldn’t you still put up a fight? I know I wouldn’t go without kicking and screaming. Like I said I think you did well on the show, but I think Dr. Phil should’ve gotten into it more because if you don’t know the back story (which is why I’m really glad you wrote this) then you look like just another mother sitting on her high horse judging other mothers and the rest of the world! Wonderfully written too btw.
Lucky for them to have you!
Whenever this comes up I hear a lot of people saying that it’s not fair that men have gotten away with this while we judge the mothers. The solution is not to give mothers who leave a pass, it’s to stop giving men a pass. In as much as we do, that is. I find that those who are vocal about mothers leaving are not okay with men leaving either.
All I can say is…………
YOU ROCK!!! I’d plant a big fat kiss on you if you were local.
Awesome post!! It made me proud of the job I do in being a woman and mom.
Coming to your blog via our cool Chic Chick Media banner thingie. This was a great post – my mom ‘sorta’ left me, she usually always lived in the same state, and sometimes even in the same town – but I was raised by my grandparents. She and I have been able to grow closer after I became a mom, but I was really hurt growing up and had self-esteem issues to deal with. There are days when I feel overwhelmed and think I’d like to pack all my stuff up and just take off to the middle of nowhere…and then I think, “Yeah, that would last for about 1 day” before I was missing my babies and wanting to have the overwhelmed feeling back rather than not having them at all.
Amazing post and both your children and step children are so very fortunate to have such a caring and strong mama in their corner! 🙂
Being a mother is the toughest job Ive ever had… and while I often dream of sitting on a beach with margarita (on the rocks with salted rim) ALONE… I would never actually run to that island … well not for more than a day … or 3… lol jk jk
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While I think everything you’ve said is spot-on, here’s one more perspective:
I was raised by a selfish mother. She had me as an excuse not to go to work. When I started school my father suggested to my mother that she get a part-time job while I was in school, so she got pregnant again.
I’m not going to go into what it is like to be raised by a selfish mother or my life story. Suffice it to say that every day of my childhood I wish she’d leave or I’d die. She made it clear that she hated having to drive me someplace or make lunch or dinner and what a financial strain it was to buy me clothes. She openly regretted getting married and having any responsibility.And *I* cleaned the house, not her.
For fifteen years of my adult life I kept in contact with her; now I don’t speak to her at all. During those years she put down my husband and my children. Her house looks like something that should be condemned and probably hasn’t been cleaned since my sister moved out ten years ago. She whines and complains that, since she “worked” all her life raising us, she shouldn’t be expected to do anything now.
Selfish mothers DO damage their children when they leave…but the also do damage by staying. I think I suffered more with her around than I would have had I been put in a foster home, which, believe me, I wanted to be.
Your stepkids may be suffering…but I’d bet they’d be suffering a lot more if they didn’t have you in their lives, or their selfish mother had custody.
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