Saturday, January 27, 2007

American Life from the Grocery Aisle

While typical frustrations in the grocery store mount from what one cannot find, I found myself recently disheartened by what I did find. I was cutting through the pet food aisle, en route to the dairy section, when I realized that about halfway down the aisle, the merchandise brands changed from Alpo and Purina to Gerber and Pampers. It seemed an unintentional, but telling, sign of the times. Have we come to see the upbringing of children as a pursuit and hobby that is equivalent to pet care?

Perhaps the grocery aisle is not very compelling evidence concerning the devaluing of children, but what about the number of children raised in daycare? What about our increased demand for two-income homes?

Why did we decide to sell our children to daycare and spend our working hours doing a man's work? Why did we despise the labor of the home, fields and child rearing to prove our equality with men? Why did we think that equal meant same and that to be fulfilled as women we must compete in a man's world? Why did we think that submission was an enemy that must be fought in the name of feminism? Why did we despise honor? Why did we forsake the reverence of our men as our treasured earthly aim? For what reason did we decide that the hand that rocked the cradle had no rule in this world? Why did we scorn the woman who poured out her life in service to her family and label her used and abused? Why did we think that supporting ourselves took precedence over supporting our men?

For whatever reasons we had then, it is good that our ideologies be revisited now. In the living reality of the consequences of our crusades I believe that we stumble upon the death of many dreams crucified in a war of progression. I remember first being aware of this death many years ago when a doctor beginning her career turned to my mother of eight young children and remarked, "What I would give to be able to live as you do." I remember my mother clearly explaining to me after this conversation that decisions have consequences and that you make decisions in life that fall in line with your priorities.

This comment from the doctor that was made many years ago has resurfaced time and again of late. I have heard it take the form of a young mother saying, "I would stay home with my children if I could, but I can't." Why? "Well, the house we just bought is a fixed expense and we have so many fixed expenses that it just makes only sense for both of us to work. And then there's the daycare cost, that's so expensive just for one child, and now I will have two and the price will double in cost. I have no option but to work."

What does it profit a woman to have all manner of success in the wage-earning world to scatter the money to the winds and have daycare centers raise her children? If we have abandoned our children, what else do we have? Decisions have consequences and decisions are based on priorities.

May we consider our priorities. I would pray that we take residence in the most humble of abodes before we surrender the immeasurable riches of laughing with and running with and teaching and training our children in the everyday moments of life. Would that our delight would be to place our finely pressed suit on the closet hanger to pick up our food-stained apron and serve and nurture our families. Would that we take up residence with the paupers and count our treasure that of eternal consequence. Would that we put aside our rights and serve and aim and please our men. Herein are found the joyful accolades of those who have lain down their life and in doing so found it.

And to my generation of single young women, may we consider our end and be wise. While the time of singleness affords us the experience of work outside the home, may we not forget our end. Do we seek a rich and vibrant Christian family life? If so, let us not seek an education and profession that will not allow us to surrender it for the sake of supporting our man and children.