The Narcissistic Glory of Pregnancy

New types of families around us - same-sex, single-parent, multi-parent, multi-generational - have the potential to subvert the narcissistic glory of the biological child.

Pregnant women make me jealous. But am I jealous of them in the same way that I'm jealous of someone who has won the Nobel Prize, or someone who has just bought a new Jeep? Is pregnancy the husband's accomplishment ("I can pay for two private kindergartens and a babysitter"), the wife's ("My life has meaning - what about yours?"), or is it perhaps an achievement by the state?

Much has been written about Israel's investment in genetic screening, and it is common knowledge that the Israeli woman is entitled to enormous medical support while she's trying to get pregnant that disappears once her fertile years are over. But is the glorification of our biological children fully explained by its role in the continuing war against the Nazis?

It's possible that parenthood is a purely biological drive. But if this is true, how is it possible that, in every cultural context, most people aspire to have the exact number of children that will raise their social status without deviating from what is considered the bounds of good taste? And besides, in a world where we don't hunt or gather our food, where we poison ourselves from an early age and then seek antidotes, we likely wouldn't recognize a biological drive if it cut right in front of us in line at the supermarket.

Do children perpetuate our love? Maybe a pregnant woman makes me jealous because she is carrying the banner of "familiness." That's a rather innocent notion, given the fact that children's influence on their parents' marriage is comparable to that of an experimental cancer treatment (There's a 50 percent chance it will save you, but also a 50 percent chance it will kill you faster ).

Once might assume that we are simply talking about love for children. But the truth is, other people's children interest us about as much as their other egocentric expressions (dreams, for instance ). Most of the time, our love for children is reserved for the two or three we bear ourselves.

Only a few see parenting non-biological children as a sound, authentic and attractive route to personal and familial satisfaction. The suggestion that that we care for children who "aren't ours" arouses, like veganism, pseudo-rational defenses ("But we were meant to eat meat" ). At best, it provokes colonialist fantasies, similar to adopting a puppy from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ("The starving ones are the smartest" ).

I'm not denying biology. The way to my heart is through the remark, "Your daughter is an exact copy of you." But in all honesty, when I hear my daughter use expressions of mine, recognizing the influence of my obsession with her gives me as much of a kick as any expression of my genes does.

Indeed, anyone raising children who are "not theirs," or raising a child with someone who is not the child's biological parent, knows that "child" and "parent" are roles defined much more by who decides that supper is over and the child can go back to watching television than by genes for shortsightedness.

In that respect, the new types of families around us - same-sex, single-parent, multi-parent, multi-generational families - have the potential to subvert the narcissistic glory of the biological child and bring closer to the table all those children who are orphaned, abandoned, in boarding schools or seeking foster families and whose parents cannot care for them.

If we are really so familial, so Zionist, with so many resources, then why don't we spur some justified jealousy by combining our need to love with their need to be loved?