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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.