One of the beautiful things about Christmas is that it's all about the birth of a baby.
SassoferratoI wasn't planning to post anything more today (except the traditional Christmas music post, coming soon), but after reading Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak yesterday and Mark Steyn this morning, I had to dash this off.
Petula Dvorak specializes in columns about contemporary motherhood. Her favorite words to describe modern moms: frenetic, frenzied, over-committed, multi-tasking, beleaguered, overwhelmed, manic, exhausted, crazy-busy, et cetera. (Case in point here.) This busy-ness is as much a badge of honor as it is a claim to victimhood -- a win-win for post-feminist moms.
Ms. Dvorak is one of the mothers who couldn't figure out what to do with her kids during the enforced downtime created by the DC area blizzards a couple of years ago, so unusual was it to have unstructured time at home. She scoured the internet for projects to keep the kids "occupied." (That 21st century kids are so often unable to find ways to amuse themselves speaks volumes about our culture and the way we're raising our children, but that's an issue for another day.)
May I submit that if parenthood is a nightmare of overscheduled, restless, and largely meaningless activity, you're doing it wrong.
In her latest column, Ms. Dvorak reveals that she's painted such a dismal picture of parenthood that she's souring her readers on the idea of having any kids at all:
None of this amuses Jamel, a [28 year-old] communications manager at a trade association in Arlington who wrote that “the thought of having kids scares me to death. Children are expensive, needy, and time consuming. . . . What is the point of having kids if your life ends when theirs begins?”There's an answer to that question.
In his latest piece, Elisabeth’s Barrenness and Ours, Mark Steyn confirms that the guy above is not alone:
The developed world, like Elisabeth, is barren. Collectively barren, I hasten to add. Individually, it’s made up of millions of fertile women, who voluntarily opt for no children at all or one designer kid at 39. In Italy, the home of the Church, the birthrate’s somewhere around 1.2, 1.3 children per couple — or about half “replacement rate.” Japan, Germany, and Russia are already in net population decline. [ . . .] In a recent poll, invited to state the “ideal” number of children, 16.6 percent of Germans answered “None.” We are living in Zacharias and Elisabeth’s world — by choice.The notion, so aptly expressed above by Jamel, that giving one's goods, love, and time to one's children amounts to "the end" of one's own life, springs from a sort of spiritual death. Steyn:
The notion of life as a self-growth experience is more radical than it sounds. For most of human history, functioning societies have honored the long run: It’s why millions of people have children, build houses, plant trees, start businesses, make wills, put up beautiful churches in ordinary villages, fight and if necessary die for your country . . . A nation, a society, a community is a compact between past, present, and future, in which the citizens, in Tom Wolfe’s words at the dawn of the “Me Decade,” “conceive of themselves, however unconsciously, as part of a great biological stream.”And a shallow one. At the end, Steyn makes a compelling empirical case for Christianity: the alternative isn't working. In the most fundamental sense, Godless societies are failing because they have nothing to live for, and the result is a void, the absence of life.
Much of the developed world climbed out of the stream. You don’t need to make material sacrifices: The state takes care of all that. You don’t need to have children. And you certainly don’t need to die for king and country. But a society that has nothing to die for has nothing to live for: It’s no longer a stream, but a stagnant pool.
I've deliberately refrained from excerpting Steyn's conclusion so please go read the whole thing and then mentally insert his last paragraph right here.
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