Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Baby desperation

It's quite the predicament we hear in the news. On the one hand, women are career-oriented, blissfully single, quite independent, and therefore uninterested in being burdened by husband or child. On the other hand, women are desperate to conceive, willing to go to any lengths in order to be called, "mommy."

The UK's "Daily Mail" recently featured a piece by Liz Jones about this quandary. It's quite the study in using vs. loving. A few excerpts will give the idea, so you won't have to read the long, bizarre account:

Of course, not every woman in my position would resort to extreme measures. But I do believe that any man who moves in with a woman in her late 30s or early 40s should take it as read that she will want to use them to procreate, by fair means or foul, no matter how much she protests otherwise.

A 2001 survey revealed that 42 per cent of women would lie about using contraception in order to get pregnant in spite of their partners’ wishes.

Perhaps my husband should never have married me if he didn’t feel ready for a family. Perhaps I should never have married him. There are always two sides to every dispute, but I think the words I flung at him when we eventually broke up were: ‘You stole my last child-bearing years from me! ’

My own attempts at being a ‘sperm stealer’ failed. But there are plenty more like me who are willing to give it a try.

Among my circle, many girlfriends have told me how they have tricked their boyfriend or fiancé or husband. One found herself childless in her 40s, so she lied to a very new boyfriend that she was on the Pill. He is now in a new relationship having to pay support for a child he never sees.

Another friend was engaged but her fiancĂ© walked out on her. She is 39, and told me she was hoping she was pregnant ‘so he would have to come back’. Yet men remain in blissful ignorance of such tactics.

While reading Liz Jones' words, I was struck by the emphasis that what needs to change is not women's behavior, but men's awareness of it. It seems as though women using men in order to become mothers is considered a reasonable behavior, so long as men know what is occurring.

Of course, the other person being used in this equation is the child -- an innocent, beautiful creature not willed for his own sake, but for the happiness and personal fulfillment of his mother.
Near the conclusion of the article, Liz Jones writes:

So when is a woman most likely to become a sperm-snatcher? If her career is not panning out exactly as she thought it would. If she is 37 or over and childless. If she worries the man might walk out on her. I believe these are the women who are most likely to be panicked into making the decision to get pregnant in whatever way they can.

Women today are used to getting what they want; they believe that ‘having it all’ is their right, not a privilege. Women no longer think merely being ‘married’ to their work is in any way satisfactory. Life without a child is seen as a failure.
Is the problem the desire to be a mother? Or is the problem the way in which being a mother is now equated with power, independence, worldly success? Perhaps the two attitudes of women mentioned at the beginning of this post are not as opposed to one another as they first seem. The desire for independence and financial success can be linked to the desire for a child ... if the desire for a child is shaped by the first desire, thereby taking a new structure of selfishness, instead of the selfless structure inherent to motherhood.

Motherhood as a personal endeavor in grasping for what I want is a far cry from Bl. John Paul II's thoughts:
This mutual gift of the person in marriage opens to the gift of a new life, a new human being, who is also a person in the likeness of his parents. Motherhood implies from the beginning a special openness to the new person: and this is precisely the woman's "part." In this openness, in conceiving and giving birth to a child, the woman "discovers herself through a sincere gift of self." The gift of interior readiness to accept the child and bring it into the world is linked to the marriage union, which -- as mentioned earlier -- should constitute a special moment in the mutual self-giving both by the woman and the man. According to the Bible, the conception and birth of a new human being are accompanied by the following words of the woman: "I have brought a man into being with the help of the Lord" (Gen 4:1). This exclamation of Eve, the "mother of all the living" is repeated every time a new human being comes into the world. It expresses the woman's joy and awareness that she is sharing in the great mystery of eternal generation. The spouses share in the creative power of God! (Mulieris Dignitatem #18).

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