When the wife of a former colleague walked away from her marriage and her two pre-school kids the gossip mills went into overdrive.
“How could a mother leave her children?” people asked in horror and bewilderment.
‘It’s one thing to leave your husband, but to abandon your kids? It’s unthinkable.’
Without knowing anything about the family’s situation, the consensus was that the mother was selfish, evil and/or a complete bitch.
Meanwhile, her husband’s status oscillated between victim and hero. People fretted about how he was going to manage to care for the children. He has a job, you know! Sympathy and offers of support came flooding in. A roster for hot dinners was drawn up.
While the situation was no doubt incredibly painful for my former colleague and his kids, not to mention logistically difficult, I was struck by just how differently people reacted to the news of a mother leaving a family compared with when they hear about a father upping stumps.