January 24, 2005
Her question stopped me in my tracks. “So why can’t you have a baby and go to college?”
I opened my mouth to speak, “Because….” I stopped. “Well, it….”
The modern proscription for a successful life in America is rigid. You graduate from high school, you go to college and graduate, you get a master’s degree, and you begin your career. Only then are you given permission to settle down and consider having a family.
The promise of “success” hangs in front of our nose, like the hare racing in front of the greyhounds at the track. We have our life mapped out, no time to waste, and no room for detours. But why?
It wasn’t always this way. There was a day not so long ago when diversity was more than a political slogan. It formed the very fabric of life, a patchwork of possibilities, a life of beauty designed around the varied circumstances of men and women.
Once upon a time, we took life as it came. We planned. But we also made allowances for the turns in the road, the detours and side trips that inevitably occur. They were not evidence that life was over. They were moments of creativity, unbidden opportunities to incorporate the unexpected into life and call it success.
Love wasn’t rejected until we had our college diploma framed behind the leather chair. It came in joyful moments of surprise, and it was received as a gift. Students in love got married. If children came along, life wasn’t over. It was extended.
Married students moved into married housing. And if they became pregnant, the children were welcome. Life was big enough to have it all.
Not so today. For all the pride we have in our ability to plan the perfect life, we have created the ultimate rigid path that rejects life’s diversity. If success is only possible as single men and women without children, then our fate is sealed. Sex is recreation, relationships are void of commitment, and babies are unwelcome.
Thus, it is quite an easy matter for clinics on college campuses to sell young women the solution to unplanned pregnancies. Abortion in college is just one more part of the so-called prescription for success.
Abortion counselors don’t counsel. They simply latch onto our fears and reinforce them. “Oh, my dear,” they tell young women, “you don’t want to drop out of school. You’ll never be able to do it. Here let us fix it for you.”
Sealing their fate, reinforcing the promise of failure, we withdraw support from pregnant women. If they want acceptance, love, careers, and a future…they have only one path, one narrow path, just big enough for one person to walk alone, no babies allowed.
As a nation we are all caught in the fear of failure. Parents push their daughters to abortion. Boyfriends expect abortions. And women have bought the lie. They can’t be a woman, a mother, a wife, and a student…because we tell them they can’t.
When did we decide that the best life to be had is the life of a sterile woman? What justification do we have for preaching the Mother Goddess in feminism even as we demand that she sacrifice the joy of mothering in order to move ahead?
Do you plan joy? Or does it flow from your ability to accept the unexpected treasures found along the way…love, commitment, marriage, and family? If humans were created to be parents, what kind of happiness will we find by denying our creation?
Babies are not the enemy…but only if we are willing to believe in the value of life and all that it brings. What joy have we lost today by pretending that the best of life can be planned? When did we give up on ourselves?
June 5, 2004: Unplanned Joy
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