2023 has started on a much happier note, than the dismal end to 2022! On January 5th my niece gave birth to her first child – a beautiful little girl! She looks like her father, but with her mother’s large, almond-shaped eyes. Apparently, she also has her mother’s (and grandfather’s) feet. I haven’t had the chance to meet her in person yet, but I will be traveling up to Portland at the end of this month to see her.
Only twelve days after my grand-niece’s birth, my daughter and her husband were placed with another beautiful little girl! My newest granddaughter was born three weeks early, due to some medical complications, but birth mom and baby are both doing well. Birth mom did give consent to the adoption, and now my daughter and son-in-law are adjusting to life as new parents. I wish I could show a photo of my newest granddaughter, but adoption regulations prevent it.
Book of Fairy Poetry, edited by Dora Owen and illustrated by Warwick
The birth of these two precious little girls has reminded me of times spent with my own three children when they were little. It sounds cliché to say, and yet it is still true that “children are a gift from God!” I have enjoyed my children at every stage in their growth and development – helping them learn new things, seeing their excitement when they accomplish something, hearing their ideas and stories, watching them become independent and start their own families. That is not to say that there were not difficult or frustrating times, but those were only fleeting moments in the grand experience of a lifetime. (I must be getting old!)
As I look around our society today, I see fewer children being born generally and fewer children born to parents who are involved with their raising. I wonder what impact this will have on the future of our country. Of course, I am not talking about those who are struggling with infertility. I am only thinking of those young adults, who do not wish to get marries or have children.
It's not about population numbers, we have plenty of new immigrants to fill jobs and such practical matters as that. It isn’t even a question of who will care for the elderly. Sure, Japan is in imminent trouble in this department, even looking to robots to help care for their older generation. Japan though, doesn’t have the immigration that we do, and often it is immigrants who take on these types of caregiving jobs. The reality is that already in many cases family is not the primary caregivers to our older members, certainly not like they were in the past centuries.
My concern is more for individuals’ social and emotional well-being and the impact that will have on society ultimately. I think we are already beginning to see the consequences. Young people often don’t seem to want to get married or start families. They are too busy focusing on careers, partying, playing video games, or otherwise trying to avoid growing up. Perhaps they are too timid, too fearful, or too comfortable to want to take on adult responsibilities. I’m sure there are many different reasons, but the results are the same – they become so self-absorbed and ego-centric that they are no longer able to empathize with anyone else.
This is not good for society. It leads to an inability or unwillingness to compromise. Everything is about what they personally want or “need,” what they think or feel. Children are fantastic at breaking into our personal space and time and forcing us to have to think about someone other than ourselves. We must make accommodations, adjust our plans (and sleep schedules), and change our lifestyles. We must put someone else and their needs before our own. We must develop some level of consideration, and hopefully, empathy. This is the greatest blessing that children provide! They make us better people.
Admittedly there are severely dysfunctional families and parents and those are always tragedies, and that is often when communities, religious organizations, and charities must step in to fill the gap. Human failures have always been a problem. Even so, hopefully, those are the exception.
Wow, I have really gotten intense! Sorry about that. For now, I will give thanks for the new life in my family and pray that the current societal trends can still be reversed. I am working on some new stories to share with you in the upcoming newsletters (to break the philosophical tedium), so you can look forward to seeing them starting next month.
In the meantime, don’t forget about the Tucson Festival of Books on March 4th and 5th on the University of Arizona campus. If you are in town and able, stop by and say hello!
If you missed my January newsletter, you may find it here. Take care of yourselves until we connect again, next month!