Parenthood & etiquette

First comes love… dating 6 months long distance between Arizona and Illinois.

Then comes marriage… the most amazing moment in my life, when we became one before God.

Then comes baby in the baby carriage! …Due December 25th! WOOHOO!

Catholic parenthood: a lesson in etiquette It’s been an exciting past few months since learning we are expecting our first child! From surprising my husband with the positive test – gift wrapped, announcing to our parents on Mother’s Day, to seeing the little one wiggling their tiny hands and feet at our 10 week ultrasound. The nurse commented that my lunch must have been well-liked… I didn’t tell her it was probably the McDonalds iced coffee I’d just had. Shh!

But with all the excitement we’ve had in sharing our news, it’s been a surprising disappointment to hear so many veteran parents lamenting…

“Oh, get ready. Your life is over.”

“It’ll never be just you two again.”

“You’re in for it now.”

Although we imagine most of the complaints about parenthood are greatly outnumbered by the joys our friends & family experience in raising kids, it’s still disheartening to hear such anti-child remarks – and further, to be told we have no idea what we’re getting ourselves into. Yeah, we’re first time parents and we can’t have it all figured out but we’re certainly not doomed.

The scary thing is… we know these unwelcome comments won’t stop with our first child.

After spending the weekend with my sister-in-law, who just had baby #6, we learned the awkward inquiries will never fail to escape strangers’ lips… “These are all yours?” … “Are you going to have more?!” … “Don’t you and your husband have a TV?”

Last week, she was mistaken for a church group leader.

And my other sister-in-law, having just adopted her second child, expressed the real pain it can cause when others simply ask when they plan to have another.

Across the spectrum of intrusive, judgmental, and sometimes shocking commentary, it seems pretty logical that unless you have genuine cause for concern, let couples govern their own procreative lives.

As a recently married Catholic woman, I’ll admit sometimes such thoughts and questions cross my mind. I can get to thinking about when another couple was married, mentally calculate the months since… wonder when a baby could come, or even surmise about their use or abuse of NFP.  It’s shameful. And with all the comments that have come our way, it’s a bitter taste of my own medicine.

As important as it is to share the goodness of being open to life and God’s call to holy parenthood, we must guard our temptation to question a couple’s family planning decisions. We shouldn’t act without charity if ever we become aware of our brothers & sisters endangering themselves or their children with contraceptives, abortafacients, artificial fertility treatments, or even the abuse of NFP  – we are called to instruct the ignorant! However, to silently speculate on reasons a couple may be waiting, by choice or circumstance, or – on the other hand – having their nth child, is not our responsibility.

It’s helpful to be reminded of the countless saints and blessed men and women who have gone before us, who have demonstrated exactly how to exercise virtuous parenthood and encourage others in their vocations as mothers and fathers. I can only hope that my husband and I can hold one another accountable to fulfill our vocation as parents righteously and be great examples of parenthood to our friends and family.

St. Joachim and St. Anne, pray for us.

On a related note:

Maggie’s Place, a wonderful organization which provides housing and support for single expectant mothers, is hosting their annual Prayer Angels Outreach, inviting anyone called to sign up to be a Prayer Angel for one of their moms. You send them your name, address and email & they give you the name of a mom and her baby or due date. You pray daily through mid-July, when a spiritual bouquet will be presented to the mom, including your prayer commitment to her. There’s no reason not to sign up! Email prayerangels@maggiesplace.org.

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3 thoughts on “Parenthood & etiquette

  1. Oh, and I drank coffee through my pregnancies, too…..iced coffee was a craving when I was expecting Little Princess. It was about all I could keep down at one point. Hope you’re feeling okay, too!

  2. I am so excited for you! And for Christmas to be your due date, how fitting! I can say I’ve also been guilty of some of the things you mentioned, most specifically not speaking up against contraceptives when my coworkers mentioned going on them or returning to them (it is a daycare with only one male, the owner, so we are pretty open about such things), mostly because I don’t know how to phrase it gently and without sounding condescending.

    I feel like this is another way Catholics are called to be counter-cultural. Society says that children are a burden and those who choose to have more than one, or two *at most* are crazy, and, sometimes idiots who are also burdening the rest of the population. When I tell people I have seven brothers and sisters, four adopted, they again think my parents were crazy, when really, my parents are incredibly blessed, since my mom wasn’t supposed to be able to bear children at all. On the other hand, you can be too forward about asking people about their future family planning (“are you going to give little Jack a brother?” When Jack is barely a year old).

    Even though, I complain about the kids at my job, they really do bring so much joy. I’ll be praying for you, Joe, and little Baby Holland!

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