Mark Steyn relates a sad story about homemaking for one: Martha Stewart's only daughter paying $27,000 per month trying to conceive a child at age 41.
As National Reviewâ€™s in-house demography bore, youâ€™d expect me to find in a successful single womanâ€™s $27,000 fertility treatments the flip side of the Afghan baby boom I mentioned last issue. Just as Europeans preserve old churches and farms as heritage sites so Martha has amputated the family from family life, leaving its rituals and traditions as freestanding lifestyle accessories. So okay, let me nudge the argument on a bit. Today many of the western worldâ€™s women have in effect doubled the generational span, opting not for three children in their twenties but one designer yuppie baby in their late thirties. Demographers talk about â€œlate family formationâ€ as if it has no real consequences for the child.
But I wonder. The abortion lobby talks about a world where every child is â€œwantedâ€. If you get pregnant at 19 or 23, you most likely didnâ€™t really â€œwantâ€ a child: it just kinda happened, as it has throughout most of human history. By contrast, if you conceive at 42 after half-a-million bucksâ€™ worth of fertility treatment, you really want that kid. Is it possible to be over-wanted? I notice in my part of the world thereâ€™s a striking difference between those moms who have their first kids at traditional childbearing ages and those who leave it to Miss Stewartâ€™s. The latter are far more protective of their nippers, as well they might be: even if you havenâ€™t paid the clinic a bundle for the storkâ€™s little bundle, youâ€™re aware of how precious and fragile the gift of life can be. When you contemplate societyâ€™s changing attitudes to childhood â€“ the â€œwar against boysâ€ that Christina Hoff Summers has noted, and a more general tendency to keep children on an ever tighter chain â€“ I wonder how much of that derives from the fact that â€œyoung momsâ€ are increasingly middle-aged. I wish Miss Stewart happiness and fulfillment, but she seems a sad emblem of a world that insists one should retain time-honored traditions when decorating the house for Thanksgiving but thinks nothing of re-ordering the most basic building blocks of society.