Sometimes it takes a village

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Dr. Pakaluk, who started the #postcardsforMacron trend, poses with six of her eight children. Photo courtesy of Jack Hardy.

Ross Douthat recently published a column in the The New York Times addressing President Emmanuel Macron’s comments on the rapidly declining Western birth rates, the rapidly increasing birth rates on the African continent, but more particularly that educated women do not have large families. Douthat concludes his article with a call to Europeans to increase the birth rate in order to prevent “destabilization and disaster from the Eurafrican encounter.”  

The fertility crisis the rest of the Western world faces seems foreign in our University of Dallas Bubble; our families and friends look more like the #postcardsforMacron twitter response photos from educated women across the nation who have large families. I asked 10 of my friends from my all-girls high school, who now attend larger universities on the east coast, if girls our age desire children. The answer was unanimously, “maybe in 10 years or so, because we need to focus on our careers first.”

Most of the world does not think it is possible for a young mother to have a career, and most young women aren’t willing to take their chances on having a family for fear of becoming a stereotypical housewife. Are the #postcardsforMacron women rare exceptions to the rule? Are us women all in for a rude awakening when we graduate?

I argue that UD women, and the many other women at Catholic universities like ours, are not exceptions to any such rule. Nor are we necessarily more intelligent or hard working than any other college graduates. I argue that it is the Bubble itself that separates the #postcardsforMacron women from the fate that our secular peers believe awaits young mothers.

The Bubble is really just a nickname for community. We recognize that the community of UD is so unique that it almost blurs our view of the outside world. We don’t need “safe spaces”; we peer pressure each other to attend church more than we do to drink, and we create lifelong relationships that sometimes lead to marriage. Our Bubble is like a cocoon; in it we learn to recognize and create true community. I believe that skill is one of the greatest ones we take with us into the real world. We find communities in our families, churches and graduate schools, and we are not scared to rely on them.  

I would bet anything that the #postcardsforMacron women had a significant amount of help from the people in their lives as they continued their education or built their career. There is a belief in the Western world’s increasingly narcissistic culture that, in order to be perfect, one has to be self-sufficient and respect other people’s self-sufficiency.

There is a belief that in order to be a good mom you must be “super mom,” and that your child must be provided with and guided toward every opportunity to succeed. You and your spouse must do those things yourselves.  

According to “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Jonathan Haidt, despite having far fewer children and working outside of the home most of the day, women are spending more time taking care of their children than in 1965. In 1965, neighborhoods were communities; your latch-key child was taken care of by the community, not just by you.

I don’t want to be misunderstood. I am not arguing for a time machine; I am simply saying that it takes a village. We can both be educated and have the families we so fundamentally desire; we just need a community.

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