Skip to comments.Motherhood on Trial
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. Its not that I didnt 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. Didnt 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 wasnt with me, there wasnt 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 wont be able to afford this season and which thin, new models I might want to disdain. But while the beautiful peoples 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 Lifes 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 wouldnt 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 theyd never had kids. So that wasnt 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 womans feelings, her friend and well-known artist Cecily Brown. Cecily wasnt so much worried about the difficulty of parenting as she was concerned about the effect being a parent might have on her career: Im scared I would love the child more than my work. Im afraid Id 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 couldnt convince mothers to value their careers over their children, theyd 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 Im an overly-exhausted wreck who misses her job and sees very little of her husband. Hes got a friend, Im sure, and I dont 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 generations 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 ...
"It seems that since feminists couldnt convince mothers to value their careers over their children, theyd convince them not to become mothers at all."
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.
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.
Compare and contrast to this article about Japanese Men and Women
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you grow old with no children maybe your nephew or niece will be kind enough to commit you to the Nursing Home,
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.
Oh you have GOT to see this!
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."
There's an FR thread on that article here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1146931/posts
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...
Very well said.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.