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Motherhood on Trial
Boundless Webzine ^ | 05/27/04 | Megan Basham

Posted on 06/03/2004 3:57:30 PM PDT by AngieGal

I was on a plane returning from the East Coast and, being a young woman in the world (notice I said “in,” not “of”), I was passing the time with the fat fall issue of Vogue magazine I had purchased during a brief layover in New York. It had been a trying couple of weeks for me, having discovered that I had been “blessed” (a word I kept chanting over and over in my head, hoping soon I would believe it) by God with a pregnancy — albeit an unplanned one. While trying to process that bit of information, I frankly felt I deserved to spend some time with a superficial favorite from my pre-Jesus days. It’s not that I didn’t value motherhood (so I thought), it was simply that I had IMPORTANT things to do. You know, things more important than raising Christian individuals to go out and have a positive impact on their world. Things like writing Presidential speeches (in my fantasies) and lecturing other Christians on which movies they should/should not see (in real life). Being a rather late bloomer, at age 27, I felt I was only beginning to come into my own as a writer and as a woman. And having a baby might interfere with becoming that woman. Didn’t God know He had more IMPORTANT things planned for me than that?

So who was I hurting if I needed to unwind with a bit of trivial fashion fluff? Seeing as how my husband wasn’t with me, there wasn’t even anyone around to flash me disapproving looks!

Now, being a writer, I read every shallow word of these publications, just so I can know for certain which hot, new items I won’t be able to afford this season and which thin, new models I might want to disdain. But while the beautiful people’s inane ideas about life, love, and fulfillment might have affected my thinking as a teenager, I was quite convinced that I had learned to separate the occasional wheat from the vast amount of chaff since then. I listened to the Bible on how to live my life, not some silly fashion magazine.

And then, just I was about to throw in the towel and watch the in-flight movie, I saw it.

Prefaced by a lovely painting by Sophie Matisse, was an article by Dodie Kazanjian (a Vogue regular) titled “Just the Two of Us,” about her experience as a woman who had deliberately opted not to have children. Ever.

As she eased into her narrative about how, though she was no militant feminist, she had simply never felt the stirrings of her own biological clock, I felt myself relating. As she described her vague shame for her lack of maternal ambition, I heard an echo in my head sighing, “I understand.” Then, as she efficiently started to call upon current social theories to defend her decision, I stopped short. Was this really what I believed?

She began by quoting from a highly-praised new book A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother: “The hardship of parenthood is so unrelievededly shocking that ... at its worst moments [it] does indeed resemble hell. I often think that people wouldn’t have children if they knew what it was like.”

Wait a minute — I knew plenty of people who had children, and though I was sure they had their bad days, I was also pretty sure none of them would say they wished they’d never had kids. So that wasn’t my issue at all. I was simply feeling a bit rushed because of the IMPORTANT things I had yet to do.

Then she began relating another woman’s feelings, her friend and well-known artist Cecily Brown. Cecily wasn’t so much worried about the difficulty of parenting as she was concerned about the effect being a parent might have on her career: “I’m scared I would love the child more than my work. I’m afraid I’d resent the child because, up until now, the work has always come first.”

To Dodie, this sounded like a reasonable fear. To me, it sounded like a ruthlessly self-centered take on child-bearing. And even worse, it sounded a little bit like me.

I had read enough Christian literature to know that, if a mother is financially able, the best way to raise children is by being home with them. While researching other topics, I had learned that despite feminist pressure, more women than ever are becoming full-time moms. But I had never given much thought to our modern attitude toward procreation in general. When I finally saw the worldly philosophies confirming, in black and white, their insidious influence over my own private thoughts, I was sickened.

It seems that since feminists couldn’t convince mothers to value their careers over their children, they’d convince them not to become mothers at all.

The Childless Revolution: What It Means to be Childless Today (by Madelyn Cain), illustrates this trend well.

This book opens by sharing the responses Ann Landers received when, in 1975, she asked her readers if they could do it over again, would they have children. As author Cain gleefully divulged, an astounding 70 percent said no.

One woman wrote, “I speak from experience as a mother of five. Was it worth it? No. ... Not one of our children has given us any pleasure. God knows we did our best, but we were failures as parents and they are failures as people.”

Another complained, “I was an attractive, fulfilled career woman before these kids. Now I’m an overly-exhausted wreck who misses her job and sees very little of her husband. He’s got a ‘friend,’ I’m sure, and I don’t blame him. Our children took all the romance out of our marriage. Signed, Too Late for Tears.”

A different mother wrote directly to a woman who had decided not to have children, “I applaud your decision and wish I had had the guts to make it 17 and 14 years ago, but NOOOO I had to listen to my mother and experience the wonderful joys of motherhood.”

Instead of decrying such callous attitudes as a possible reason for the subsequent generation’s trouble maintaining personal relationships and experiencing a sense of self-worth, Cain reasoned, “Maybe parenthood is not all it is cracked up to be and some brave souls wanted to spare others from what no one had spared them — namely parenting.”

(See link for entire article.)

(Excerpt) Read more at boundless.org ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: feminists; motherhood; pregnancy
Very interesting article with many quotes from popular books and periodicals panning motherhood.

"It seems that since feminists couldn’t convince mothers to value their careers over their children, they’d convince them not to become mothers at all."

1 posted on 06/03/2004 3:57:31 PM PDT by AngieGal
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To: AngieGal

Being married and deliberately avoiding having children is like chewing your food and spitting it out without digesting it. An empty exercise that completely misses the point.


2 posted on 06/03/2004 4:05:23 PM PDT by Argus
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To: AngieGal

Probably two of the most interesting and counter cultureal books on the subject of motherhood are called THE WAY HOME and her second ALL THE WAY HOME by MARY PRIDE. First time I was introduced to children as a blessing rather than a curse or as an sociatial expectation.


3 posted on 06/03/2004 4:16:03 PM PDT by mlmr (Tag-less - Tag-free, anti-tag, in-tag-able, without tag, under-tagged, tag-deprived...)
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To: Argus

Compare and contrast to this article about Japanese Men and Women

http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20040603/6255200s.htm

So there is a dark side to the "zero population growth" movement. When succesful it actually has a very large and negative societal impact.

I remember reading a similar article several weeks ago about the same kind of problems in Greece. Basically, the Greek Women have had it with the Macho Greek men who won't help at all with the kids or house work. So as a result Greece now has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe these days.



4 posted on 06/03/2004 4:19:22 PM PDT by Valiant
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To: Argus

I recently spoke with a distant aunt who had no children. Husband gone and all the friends they spent their lives with are now dead. She never paid much attention to the upcoming generations, seemed to consider them a bother. Now she is looking back on her life and realizing that friends are not the be all end all.


5 posted on 06/03/2004 4:19:26 PM PDT by mlmr (Tag-less - Tag-free, anti-tag, in-tag-able, without tag, under-tagged, tag-deprived...)
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To: Argus
Being married and deliberately avoiding having children is like chewing your food and spitting it out without digesting it. An empty exercise that completely misses the point.

I dunno. If someone is so self-centered that they put their own needs ahead of everyone else's, then perhaps it's best that they don't have children. Just imagine the hell of growing up knowing you're the least important thing in your parents' lives.

6 posted on 06/03/2004 4:19:56 PM PDT by Prime Choice (John Kerry is a butthead! ...or worse, a used car salesman.)
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To: AngieGal

When I hear about the glorification of a "no children" life-style I can't help but wonder who will love these childless people enough to take care of them when they are very old. Will they become one of so many nameless elderly warehoused and abandoned? Perhaps these people will usher in wholesale euthenasia.


7 posted on 06/03/2004 4:23:36 PM PDT by Diva
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To: AngieGal

When you grow old with no children maybe your nephew or niece will be kind enough to commit you to the Nursing Home,


8 posted on 06/03/2004 4:27:23 PM PDT by sgtbono2002 (I aint wrong, I aint sorry , and I am probably going to do it again.)
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To: Diva

When I hear about the glorification of a "no children" life-style I can't help but wonder who will love these childless people enough to take care of them when they are very old.

Puts a lot of meaning into the expression, "I have nothing to live for". Sad, oh so sad. They really don't know what they are missing out on.


9 posted on 06/03/2004 4:33:19 PM PDT by taxesareforever
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To: Pan_Yans Wife

Oh you have GOT to see this!


10 posted on 06/03/2004 4:40:43 PM PDT by netmilsmom (The Libs prefer to silence than debate.-Political Junkie Too)
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To: Valiant

Interesting article about Japanese self-extinction. Reminds me of the line from Jerry Pournelle's novel "Oath of Fealty" - "Think of it as evolution in action."


11 posted on 06/03/2004 4:56:07 PM PDT by valkyrieanne
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To: AngieGal
I have nine children and while I can't say that I was thrilled every time I became pregnant or that raising them was a frolic in the park, seeing the valuable and blessed human beings they have become is the greatest accomplishment of my life.
12 posted on 06/03/2004 5:12:05 PM PDT by Alouette ("Your children like olive trees seated round your table." -- Psalm 128:3)
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To: AngieGal
I have nine children and while I can't say that I was thrilled every time I became pregnant or that raising them was a frolic in the park, seeing the valuable and blessed human beings they have become is the greatest accomplishment of my life.
13 posted on 06/03/2004 5:12:05 PM PDT by Alouette ("Your children like olive trees seated round your table." -- Psalm 128:3)
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To: valkyrieanne; Valiant

There's an FR thread on that article here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1146931/posts


14 posted on 06/03/2004 5:19:45 PM PDT by GATOR NAVY
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To: Prime Choice

I think I have more respect for women who know they don't want to become mothers and who choose to remain childless than I do for a woman who has a baby because it seems "the thing to do"... then parks it in daycare 12 hours per day, spends all energy on her career, sees the child as a hindrance, etc., etc. Reminds me of these Hollywood "moms" who have or adopt children then seem to regard them as a fashion accessory to be handed off to the nanny when inconvenient. I don't think every woman should necessarily be a mother.... I think this article demonstrates some women are better off without children. As I said, I think some credit is due women who view it realistically and then don't have a child for some selfish reason only to neglect it in favor of career, money, fame, whatever...


15 posted on 06/03/2004 5:20:56 PM PDT by GraceCoolidge
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To: Alouette

Very well said.


16 posted on 06/03/2004 5:32:52 PM PDT by nopardons
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To: AngieGal

This is one of the things that frustrates me about some conservatives. I like my job. Being a mom does not have to mean that I can't still gain enjoyment from my career. Enjoyment aside, it's very challenging for a young couple to buy a reasonably priced home in a safe area, and to do so on one income is nearly impossible.

I've had conservatives tell me that if I plan to do anything besides be a stay-at-home-mom, my children will be irrevocably screwed up. As a person who was in daycare, I can state that if mom and dad do a good job, a daycare situation does not have to be a negative experience. I still consider my old caregiver to be a member of my family and she is a woman whose presence has blessed my life.

I don't understand married couples choosing not to have kids - we can't wait to start our family, and waiting the next few years until we're more financially stable will be hard. Yeah, they're a lot of work, but I'm told the blessings of a family are immeasurable.


17 posted on 06/03/2004 5:44:55 PM PDT by Rubber_Duckie_27
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To: Diva

"When I hear about the glorification of a "no children" life-style I can't help but wonder who will love these childless people enough to take care of them when they are very old....Perhaps these people will usher in wholesale euthenasia."

I was thinking the other day that just such a scenario would make a good plot for a futuristic, dystopian novel. I hope the next generation will learn from my generation's mistakes, in this and many other ways.


18 posted on 06/03/2004 6:27:55 PM PDT by jocon307 (The dems don't get it, the American people do.)
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To: AngieGal

I'm childless and am honestly not sure if I even want children. However, I do not think my life will have been a waste if I don't have them.


19 posted on 06/03/2004 6:42:15 PM PDT by Huntress
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To: Diva
When I hear about the glorification of a "no children" life-style I can't help but wonder who will love these childless people enough to take care of them when they are very old. Will they become one of so many nameless elderly warehoused and abandoned? Perhaps these people will usher in wholesale euthenasia.

I don't think that euthanasia will be ever legal in this country (religious sensibilities are too strong) but I think that discreet euthanasia will probably be widely practiced. No family, no visitors -- who would miss them or care?

In the present political climate, the government can't cut back on the programs, so it may cut back on the people.

20 posted on 06/03/2004 7:09:11 PM PDT by Siamese Princess
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To: Diva

who will love these childless people enough to take care of them when they are very old.

No one will.


21 posted on 06/04/2004 5:33:43 PM PDT by mlmr (Tag-less - Tag-free, anti-tag, in-tag-able, without tag, under-tagged, tag-deprived...)
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To: Siamese Princess

Hi Princess,

Now that you mention it, I think you're right where you say: 'discreet euthanasia will probably be widely practiced. No family, no visitors -- who would miss them or care?'

Now that's scary!

E.C. [who works fulltime plus commutes two hours a day so spends part of her weekend catching up on interesting Freeper articles.]


22 posted on 06/06/2004 4:59:56 PM PDT by EvaClement (www.lifenews.com)
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To: mlmr

Hello mlmr,

You're right asking, "who will love these childless people enough to take care of them when they are very old"?.

I was young when I became pregnant my first time, age 19, back in 1977. I am so very thankful that I had been briefly exposed to pro-life sentiment, only very briefly, but by the Grace of God the seed had been planted enough that I knew not to fall for the advice of those who thought it would be best if I got an abortion. The result of that pregnancy, my son, was born shortly before my 20th birthday, and my becoming his mom was a time of great joy for me.

My second child, my girl, was born in 1979, another time of great joy. Those are my only two children, I loved them fiercely and ferociously and still do and always will.

Now, my heart surely surely surely goes out to people who had abortions out of ignorance, what I would tell them is that the Lord loves us and forgives us and always reaches out to us and that we can go to Him with any sin, any mistake, and He will touch us in such a way that we are forgiven, healed, and freed, and He also helps us forgive ourselves. May they seek after and find His mercy and His presence!

As for "childless" people, those who know how to reach out to others and have made a practice of doing so before they get so old and frail that they are no longer well enough to, hopefully will have merciful folks in their lives who will keep an eye on them.

Parenthood is very hard work but the rewards are vast.

E.C.


23 posted on 06/06/2004 5:20:33 PM PDT by EvaClement (www.lifenews.com)
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To: EvaClement
Now that you mention it, I think you're right where you say: 'discreet euthanasia will probably be widely practiced. No family, no visitors -- who would miss them or care?

In Holland, euthanasia is supposed to be voluntary under strict guidelines, but even a Dutch government study from last year admitted that about 20% of euthanasias were involuntary. Who knows how many are people are pressured to commit suicide against their wishes?

Voluntary euthanasia is also legal in Belgium and the State of Oregon.

24 posted on 06/07/2004 4:04:35 AM PDT by Siamese Princess
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To: Prime Choice
If someone is so self-centered that they put their own needs ahead of everyone else's,

they really shouldn't be married in the first place. I take your point about unwanted children.

25 posted on 06/07/2004 2:01:56 PM PDT by Argus
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To: Siamese Princess

Hi again,
To many people, life is not sacred. When those people have power over the disenfranchised, I shudder to think what happens when no one else is looking. It is sad. Sometimes even barbaric.

E.C.


26 posted on 06/07/2004 7:04:17 PM PDT by EvaClement (www.lifenews.com)
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