Monday, March 31, 2008

Baby Punishment

No, I am not punishing Oob! I am thinking of Barak Obama's comment that if either of his daughters ever "made a mistake," he would not want them "punished with a baby... or an STD."

Part of the sting of his words, I'm sure, is that I know 3 couples who are struggling with infertility, one of whom was just victimized by an adoption scam. Part of it is my own mother's struggle with more than a dozen miscarriages. Part of it is the sight of my own little fluffy crowned crane "punishment" crawling around.

Mostly it's the worldview contained in that statement. Laying aside the equating of pregnancy with an STD, laying aside the thought of planning the demise of your grandchildren while your own children are in grade school, I am most disturbed by the cultural idea that a baby, except under the most controlled conditions, is a terrible thing: an unrecoverable disaster, the ruination of your life, a terrible punishment for an innocent mistake. As if the conditions under which you became pregnant were random and unavoidable, like taking the wrong turn in a DC traffic circle.

When people ask me the standard questions: are they all yours, do you want any more, etc., I think they are asking essentially two questions: Did you have this many kids on purpose? Are you glad you did?

Senator Obama's comments crystallized my answer. This is how I feel about having 6 kids: I don't deserve it. The culture tells me, why yes, a college educated woman does not deserve the burden of a large family. It's a punishment for taking my religious views too seriously and refusing the enlightenment. Quite rich irony there, if they could see it. I don't deserve even one of my precious children, let alone six!

With each child I have seen more clearly exactly what it is that we are doing when, with the help of God, we create a baby. I see more and more the astounding miracle that each new person is, and the love and perfection of their being. Not just my children, every child. Not just children, every person no matter how they were created, loved into existence by God, each one a creature of unspeakable beauty. How could I ever deserve the privilege of helping to create a person?

But that's the thing about love, isn't it? You can never deserve love, you can accept love with humility and awe, and you can love with all your soul in return. My sadness for Senator Obama lies in this: if he can see a baby as a punishment, he has never really seen his own children.


Little Things said...

Oh honey. If only your experience were that of all people. It isn't, and I think it was pretty brave of Senator Obama to recognize that fact. We should all be so lucky as you.

Eric and Wendy said...

Yes, you raise a good point.

I thank God for my experience, and I know it is not one everyone gets to have. Still, I'm not just talking about my positive, but subjective experience.

If a person is valuable, that value is objective. It comes from within the person, not in what other people think of the person (which is good when I think of how various people have thought of me!).

Let me try to explain with something that's not a person.

Let's say you plunk down a few hundred bucks for tickets for (another) Rolling Stones Final World Tour in DC.

And let's say you decide then to send them to me as a present. :) (not a hint for Christmas!)

Fabulous! Except that I was sorting mail quickly and thought it was junk mail...and it got recycled. :(

Were the tickets valuable? Sure! You spent money. It was a great concert. Even if I couldn't have gone for some reason, I could have given the tickets to someone else.

The tickets were valuable, I just didn't know that's what they were.

I'm not trying to bash Senator Obama. I think he doesn't see the value because he doesn't know that the baby is a person. That is why I am sad for him.

I actually wouldn't call his statements evidence of courage (in a primary campaign, he is speaking to an overwhelming pro-choice majority in his party), but I do call it evidence of his integrity.

I may not agree with his pro-choice positions, but he has shown remarkable consistency in his position, and I believe, in politics, that only comes from a sincere conviction! ;)