There's been a lot of talk lately that there are two Americas. John Edwards started it saying that there was a rich America and a poor America (presumably he was saying he belonged to the downtrodden America, even though he's a multi-millionaire, but that's another story).
In the last few weeks, the "culture wars" supposedly have come back with a vengeance, showing the two Americas in a different light: small town America vs. community organizing America; hunters vs. bureaucrats; people who shop at Wal-Mart vs. people who eat arugula. However you want to define it, it's seen as a culture war.
But I think the real culture war, and that which has the left in a tizzy, is about the meaning of children.
Take this video clip from Sarah Palin's speech, for instance:
What was your reaction when you saw that for the first time?
I saw it when, in our homeschool, we decided to watch the speech. I didn't even know that clip was coming. We were just watching the speech when all of a sudden the camera cut to Piper, and that's what we saw. And all of us, all four of us (Rebecca, 13; Alex, 13; Katie, 11; and me) immediately said, "Awwww, that's so cute."
That's not what happened in the press rooms of the nation.
In the press galleries at the convention, journalists wrinkled their noses in disgust when Piper, Ms. Palin’s youngest daughter, was filmed kitty-licking her baby brother’s hair into place. But to many Americans — including some I talked to in the convention hall — that looked like family church on Sunday, evidence of good breeding and sibling regard.
They thought it was disgusting?
I think those without children probably do find the "sharing of spit" thing disgusting. But as any mom knows, you get over that pretty quickly as soon as you have kids. You start finishing their half eaten meals because you can't let it go to waste. You feed babies; they want to feed you back, sticking their hands, all covered with spit and half chewn food, in your mouth. And it's just easier to let a child drink out of your cup sometimes than to have to refill it.
These are things that are really only done between parents and children. Even with spouses we don't go that far. I kiss Keith, and I may drink out of his glass, but I don't really like using his toothbrush. I have, on occasion, when desperate, but it's not something I like to think about. But with kids? Who cares. Spit is a communal family thing.
And I think it's this family thing that makes the left so mad at Palin. It's not just that she's pro-life (though she is); it's that she's actually lowered herself to having five kids. She didn't stop at a respectable one, like Hillary, or the traditional two, like the Obamas. She just kept having them.
Why is it that people hate large families so much? As far as I'm concerned, the greatest regret in my life will be that I didn't have more.
After Katie was born I was in no shape to get pregnant again. I'd had a miscarriage, and then watched my son die. When I was pregnant with Katie, they told me she had fatal defects, too (she didn't, but worrying just about did me in). I just didn't think I could face the uncertainty again.
Besides, we were sure we were going to adopt. In fact, we went through the whole home study process, and were accepted. We started fostering a family of girls that were up for adoption, assuming that we were going to take them.
And then I discovered something.
I can't kiss another baby's bum. I kissed my own girls' bums all the time, but as much as I liked these poor tykes, I couldn't kiss the baby's bum. And I didn't want to add girls to my family who were of similar ages to my own girls if I wouldn't be able to love them equally.
So we thought we'd wait to adopt (and I still pray that God may lead us to the right children, some day, once my biological ones are older and there wouldn't be comparisons).
But in the meantime, we really lost our window to have more kids. And that has haunted me for the last few years. I keep thinking of the babies I could have had, and wondered why I was so selfish (because that's how I see it). It's the thing I am saddest about in my life.
So even though I only have two living children, I really do identify more with the five kid families than with the two kid families, even if I will never understand the amount of laundry in a five children house!
All of this being said, I think the real cultural divide is over where your priorities are: are they with children, where your desires take second place; or are they with self-fulfillment and your own dreams, so that, if you have kids, you try to make sure they mess up your life as little as possible?
Please understand, I don't think this is a number of children issue. Many people with only one or two kids (or no kids at all!) don't put their own advancement first, but think of others. But I do think a sizeable proportion of the news media, where they tend to be more childless than the average population, and certain political parties, where children aren't as common, just don't understand the value of a close knit family life, where things are messy, unpredictable, and chaotic.
But still beautiful and valuable.
And that's the real cultural divide: children/family or intellectual sophistication. And guess what? The children/family group is much more fun!
Subscribe to my feed by clicking above!
Labels: mothering, politics