Hardest Job in the World
Ah, parents. They create children, and that keeps me gainfully
Logically, then, I should be writing naught but praise for
them and the
work they do.
Our very strange society encourages everyone to have children.
adult is barraged by (presumably well-meaning) questions
not whether--s/he will be having children. Recent books
the integrity of women who choose to remain childless.Yet
parenting skills to high-school students is seen as ludicrous,
providing government- or corporate-sponsored childcare is
at as some socialist/feminist brainfart. Mixed signals indeed.
The drive behind this "everybody have a baby"
pressure is mysterious.
There are more than six billion people in the world. There
is no reason
to encourage breeding. The species is in no danger of dying
reproductive failure. Many arguments are advanced that those
most desirable genetics are failing to reproduce in numbers
enough to compete with those with lesser genetic gifts;
exposed to the sun, fall apart into the obvious racism that
As any parent can tell you, raising children is about the
occupation that can be imagined. The hours are 24/7/365
for at least
eighteen years. For the first two or three of those years,
deprivation is the norm. It is financially draining (and
who think welfare generously rewards single moms need to
themselves ). It doesn't add spice to a CV. It is an emotional
Why, then, are ridiculous rosy portraits of parenthood held
youths entering their most fertile years? The paranoid in
that children have been famously described as "hostages
and that parents--who have a lot to lose--are less likely
to be political
dissidents. There is also the oft-repeated observation that
company: those who suffer under the yoke of mommying (and,
daddying) might well feel some schadenfreude seeing others
afflicted. Finally, tradition--that musty old murderer--doubtless
plays a role. After all, virtually every parent had parents.
Might as well
keep the rhythm rolling, right?
I fantasize about proper education for potential parents
in this country.
I dream of the day that all prospective parents have already
pediatrician and a health plan, and laid in supplies of
diapers, and read
up on immunization. I live in a world where the most many
is to open up an account at Baby Gap. I dream of the day
motherhood is accorded the status enjoyed by other careers.
I live in a
world where the spectre of "welfare mothers" is
used to justify slashing
society's infrastructure. I dream of the day children stop
giving birth to
children because they were made aware of what having children
Picture this: a coast-to-coast public service ad campaign.
would go up with two photos juxtaposed. On the left, an
chest-deep in swampy water, carrying several loaded packs,
held above his head to keep it dry. He is sweating and clearly
by mosquitoes. On the right, a young woman holding a red-faced,
three-month-old. The clock on the wall behind her indicates
that it is four
in the morning. She is clearly exhausted. The kitchen in
which she stands
is a wreckage of spilled formula and soiled diapers. Beneath
the caption: "Who has the harder job?"