With all due apologies to Amy Irving, I think it's time for a moratorium on heartwarming stories about the rich, the famous, the unwed and the pregnant.
It's not that I wasn't tickled to read the profile in McCall's on the upcoming debut of her baby, who is "a Steven Spielberg production."
It's not that I didn't understand Amy's impatience with tacky questions about marriage: "We're so married in our hearts it seems redundant to think of wedding now. We're just enjoying being pregnant together."
It's not even that I doubt Steven's commitment: "Amy has managed to hold my attention for almost eight years now."
The problem is that I read this charming neo-domestic vignette right after finishing the full-scale drama about children and poverty outlined in two government reports published last week.
The figures showed that the absolute easiest way to be poor is to be born out of wedlock to a young woman. There are more of these children who are "missing" -- missing a decent life in America -- than we can ever feature on a weekly allotment of milk cartons and transit posters and toll tickets.
This is not, I hasten to add, Amy Irving's fault. Nor is it the fault of Farrah Fawcett or Jessica Lange or Jerry Hall or, for that matter, Ryan O'- Neal, Mikhail Baryshnikov, or Mick Jagger. (Can you match the bio-mates? Sure you can.)
If poverty, as they say, is due to a lack of money, we have more poor because we have been cutting back the real dollars we spend on the children's programs since l969. But if the favorite route to poverty, through unwed births, has been clogged with newcomers during these years, that too is part of the price tag.
There are as many theories about the increase in unweddedness as there are study grants. They range from biology to morality to economics. A current favorite holds that there are just too few men -- especially minority men -- who are "marriageable," which is to say, gainfully employed. An old standby is that teen- age girls need to see some positive alternatives, some "reasons why" to postpone motherhood.
Today, with a copy of the Amy Irving profile on my lap and Jerry Hall's autobiography on my desk, I think it's worth wondering about role models. Or about role modeling if you belong to the "interfacing," "accessing," "networking" school of verbing.
In the best of all possible worlds, girls would choose Clara Barton, or Eleanor Roosevelt, or Sally Ride as a role model. But there are probably more teen-agers who want to trade places with Trudie Styler, the unwed mother of Sting's baby, Michael, than with Sally Ride. Eleanor Roosevelt's U.N. speeches raise fewer goose bumps among the teen set than Jerry Hall's description of unwed conception with Mick: "We were out in Connecticut when I conceived, on a rainy day after riding horses." Like wow.
The problem is that many teen-agers are better at fantasy than figuring. It takes a while for them to realize that there's more than hair that separates Farrah Fawcett's unwed motherhood from theirs. There are, for starters, 15 or more years and a healthy bank account. In the case of Mommy Irving, there's also a child-support contract with Daddy Spielberg.
What is distilled from these life stories as they are boiled down into one exhilarating, glamorous view, is the celebrity of unwed motherhood, and the unwed mother as celebrity. The more positive this role model is for young women, the more negative the results.
To Amy, Jessica, Farrah, Jerry, et al., I offer a blessing on their various and sundry offspring. But motherhood isn't an easy role, and they aren't exactly models. Their tales ought to at least come with a disclaimer: This story may be hazardous to minors.
The truth of unwed motherhood is in the statistics, not in the stars.