Thursday, February 27, 2020

Child Abandonment

This one takes your breath away. I will not claim that feminists will support the Carolyn Hax position, but most women who responded to her remarks are with her.

In her letter to Hax, a woman says that she is facing a difficult choice: should she pursue career advancement even if it means abandoning her baby? And, should she pursue an advanced degree if it means taking time off from work… when she is the family’s breadwinner?

Let’s be clear: we are talking about a mother caring for a baby. Hopefully, you do not need to read the research on the importance of a mother’s presence. Every parent knows how much it  matters. Every parent knows that it is not good for a mother to abandon her children. More so when the children are babies.

And, what about the fact that this woman, who is seriously considering abandoning her baby, is also the family breadwinner. If she runs off to do her degree program she will not just be depriving her baby of her care. She will presumably be impoverishing and immiserating both her husband and her baby.

So, to me this is an easy decision. See what you think. Here is the letter, unedited:

I have a hobby I'm passionate about, and that with a LOT of luck and hard work could someday become a career, or a side career. I also have a full-time job, a side gig, a husband and a baby, so I'm not exactly swimming in extra time or energy or money to dedicate to this hobby.

That said, I just got the news that I've been accepted to a short-term program that MIGHT help things along with this hobby-passion.

If I didn't have the jobs and the husband and the baby, it would be a no-brainer; I'd spend the money and attend the program. But I am having a hard time feeling okay about doing that under my actual circumstances.

I'm the main breadwinner. Taking unpaid time off from work and spending money to travel and attend the program is an extravagance. I don't want to be away from the baby for that long. And it feels rather self-indulgent to put that kind of effort toward something that in the long run might never go anywhere.

I owe the program a decision within a couple of days, and right now I'm feeling scattered and stressed and frankly sort of sad about it — wishing I hadn't been accepted at all, that sort of thing. Do you have any thoughts that might help me get my mind moving in a productive direction?

— Scattered and Stressed

Easy decision, you will say. Hurting your baby in order to pursue a hobby sounds like a genuinely bad idea. It sounds like the height of moral dereliction. If anything happens to her baby while she is away, how will she feel then? Presumably, her family will not be able to afford a full-time Nanny.

And also, as a couple of commenters noted, the woman says nothing about her husband’s opinion. Does he have an opinion? Does he have a right to an opinion? By the terms of this letter the woman is a completely self-involved, self-absorbed human monad. She answers to no one, but her love of her hobby. Seriously, a hobby? And she has no sense of her moral responsibility to a baby.

The shocking part is the Hax response. Hold on to your hat, here it comes:

Okay, you’ve given all the reasons not to go. Now say to yourself, “Dammit, I am going,” and figure it out. Like, this afternoon, on a yellow lined scribble pad, in to-do list form.
You owe yourself that.

You owe your family that, because feeling as if you can’t grab your big moment even just once is a soul-killer.

And you owe Life that, because it doesn’t throw us these opportunities every day, and it pouts when its efforts are ignored because we don’t want to pay the two dollars.

If you can’t, then you can’t. Oh, well. Sometimes the yellow scribble pad gives us bad news. And/or sometimes it shows us that we didn’t want to go as badly as we thought. But if all it will mean is for you and your husband to put up with some temporary discomforts, then, aren’t you going to regret not trying to make it work?

I am not sure why it falls to me, who has never been a mother, to explain the facts of life to these mothers. But, we are not talking about a temporary discomfort. We are talking about abandoning a baby. The fact does not register for the letter writer or for Hax.

I do not know what a true feminist would say, but seriously, this attitude did not well up from the depths of anyone’s soul. It came from somewhere. It shows what happens when you allow ideology to overcome your moral sense. 

It shows gross moral dereliction. I am not sure what will happen to her soul if she passes on the chance to pursue her hobby, but I am confident that if she abandons her baby, other women, her fellow mothers, will look upon her as a complete and utter disgrace.


Suzannemarie said...

Confusion, confusion. What is a short term programme? A week? Month? Six months? Year? And, supposing the offer did not come falling out of a clear sky, why apply if you are convinced that you cannot attend? Also, if hubby is a stay-at-home dad who takes care of the baby anyway, that problem would be covered, sadly we know nothing about him.
The advice itself is rational, but it would have been better to do the math before sending in that application. Plus involve everyone who needs to be involved so they can cheer and be supportive when the time comes.

Somehow they don't make marriages like that anymore.

UbuMaccabee said...

Fagin has graciously offered to care for all the infants and children while the missus studies for her advancement. Look at all the kindness he bestowed on dear Nancy. Kind, charitable Fagin.

Sam L. said...

When I was twelve, my brother was born. Our mom was a teacher, and the rule then was that she had to stay home until he was of school age. She did.