Israeli Minister of Transportation and Chair of the Labor Party, Merav Michaeli, and her partner, TV personality Lior Schleien, have a baby boy called Uri. I’m delighted for them!
After a long and unsuccessful IVF journey, Michaeli and Schleien had the kid through a U.S. surrogate. This is not uncommon in Israel, especially among same-sex couples, because adoption is extremely difficult and fraught there (infant adoption is almost impossible.) When they flew to the U.S., Michaeli was deeply criticized by many for leaving the country at a time of rising COVID rates; the trip was perceived as ill-timed and frivolous. Then, they returned and posted about the kid. As is always the case in the New Salem, opinions abound about this in the public square. Let’s summarize them so we can short-circuit the tired tropes: (1) People who criticized her for taking a trip to the U.S. doubling down on their abuse, showing themselves to be troglodytes; (2) people who criticized her now apologizing, showing how repro-centric Israel is and how kids are the great equalizer, mainstreamer, and justification for everything; (3) people digging out Michaeli’s old statements criticizing surrogacy and her lack of desire to have kids; (4) people opining (positively or negatively) about how stodgy and mainstream she has become, assuming that parenting cannot be the scene of anything fresh or revolutionary. I find all of this trite and exhausting, so let’s leave it at that. A delightful couple has a new child and I wish them all the joy in the world!
There’s only one thing I can contribute to this discussion: as I know from my own experience, there are seasons to every life, and it is okay to change one’s mind and life plan as one ages. For the longest time, I did not want kids, and then, gradually, I changed my mind, and now I’m Rio’s mom and I’m happy as can be. I would never pontificate to people who want to be child-free about the truly wonderful and rich experience of being a parent. It is everyone’s prerogative to do what they wish with their one wild and precious life. So I’ll just whisper in your ear, like a friend: This path is open to you, and it is perfectly okay for you to change your mind, or not. Listen to the gentle breeze blowing within yourself and see whether you can find within an unpressured, unhurried desire to be a parent. It’s for you to decide whether you want to answer that call and in what way. There are many ways to bring nurturing, loving, teaching, mentoring energy into your life, be it through your own kid–biological or not–or other kids or adults. Just stay attuned to the seasons of your soul and they will not lead you astray.