Tuesday, July 25, 2006


At dotCommonweal Anna Nussbaum writes about one of the things that bring ridicule and shame in the West: an unexpected pregnancy.
Having a child before owning a home seems to be the last refuge of shame and socially acceptable ridicule among a certain class.
I've encountered this attitude often, though I don't know how widespread it is. Not exactly the same case, but I know of a couple of courageous Catholic college students who got married at the end of their Freshman year, and are on their way to having their second child, three years later. The other students rallied around them and have supported them tremendously in every way, though initially, both their decision to marry and then their first pregnancy was met with shock and some scorn. What a witness they are!

For some reason I was reminded of a beautiful article in the March 2006 issue of First Things: In Moral Labor which tries to bring a philosophical and moral perspective to pregnancy, i.e. the process of pregnancy, of procreation and human gestation, and particularly the mother's role in this.
Pregnancy is not just waiting but real work. Exactly what kind of work is it? Terms offered by the market are not much help: It is not evaluated like salaried tasks, and phrases like “maternity leave” construe the event as though it were vacation or hiatus from meaningful employment. We might better avail ourselves of theological categories to help make sense of women’s labor in this phase of procreation: Hospitality describes the mother as welcoming a needy guest, self-denial honors the pains and costs of that nurture, and stewardship observes the boundaries of her agency in respecting Providence.

No comments: