03 December 2012

Expert opinion

Here you may read a graciously sympathetic post from the Anchoress, who kindly takes the time to consider what the life of a mother of many young children is really like, and a vision for a program of care to such mothers. Also included is this link to a writing from a Roman Catholic mother who is upfront about a hard fact of perpetual parturition: it places extreme demands on a marriage (NFP or not), even a strong marriage, even a strong marriage between two people equally convicted about the catholic teaching on marriage. The writer told her husband,

The worst part is, I blame the Church. I blame the ban on birth control, the fact that NFP doesn’t work for us, the reality that I will never, ever have a chance to get a handle on things because I’m constantly pregnant or nursing. I can’t crawl out from under the pregnancy-and-postpartum rock because the rock follows me everywhere, just waiting to smash me again. Intellectually, I believe the Church. I understand the arguments against birth control. I agree with them, even. I just no longer think I’m a good enough person to follow the rules.

There are many reasons people use contraception, and no one understands them better than people who don't. I have no use for the faux-debaters who will bellow forever about binding consciences, the first and last refuge of the lazy Lutheran. The loyal opposition I DO respect is comprised of those who are honest enough to say: "The church might really be right about that, but we just can't do it. It's too hard." They're right. It IS too hard. :P

The Anchoress' vision is unlikely to become a systemic reality anywhere. It may happen in individual Roman Catholic parishes where someone with a "heart for that ministry" undertakes it. Much less will it happen in our Synod where anybody with more than four kids is a caricatured joke, the lowest of the evangelists and the blandest of persons. The Republican Party at Prayer will never stop secretly wanting us all to be Michele Bachmann (physically attractive, kid count in the high-reasonables, bonus good-personism, successful career, and of course "conservative"). I can only be thankful for the dear people in my parish who are kind to me and help me as they are able simply because we are sisters in Christ, not because they share an interest in my personal pious cause. Developing a fantasy about some kind of formal support system serves merely to depress; my recommendation is don't bother.

BUT--I will remember what this is like. When these years end for me, I will try to be the loving presence; the listening, understanding, forgiving ear; the willing hands for any young mother who needs them so much, who is so disrespected and alone, beginning with the mothers of any grandchildren God should see fit to grant me.


Untamed Shrew said...

"All the grace and love and joy that I want to raise my children with is being suffocated by my own sheer terror at the thought of another pregnancy, and another, and another."

I know, honey, I know. And I'd really love to go to an anonymous pastor for confession. All By Myself.

The Rev. BT Ball said...

Hey, Mrs. Shrew-
Isn't there some Synodocrat serving at your parish who could hear your confession? Put him to work to forgive your sins. Or, at some parish across the river, I understand that confessions are heard every Saturday. Some guy is going to get installed there soon. I hope you got your invite.

Untamed Shrew said...

Father Ball,

Perhaps rather than an anonymous pastor, I'd like to be the anonymous one. The devil keeps telling me that I am still God's child even if I am not Sarah's daughter. Indeed, nothing to fear but fear itself.

Got the invite. Currently rearranging the cosmos in order to attend. :D It sounds like all the cool people are coming.

Aubri said...

Thanks for this post and the links. I definitely know that kind of living by faith and how many times can I say it, it's good to know I ain't alone in the fear! 6 weeks post new baby and really facing the fears hard. I needed to read that.

When these years end for me, if I'm not dripping with grandbabies, I've already promised to mop some poor gal's nasty floor.

Cathy said...

True, it IS too hard. So my biggest amen to your last paragraph. Help. Practical, non-judgmental help. Even just the daily little things make a huge difference to an overwhelmed mother. Just be there, to reassure her, and do whatever. Prepare sandwiches for a morning sick mother to nibble on, do her dishes and sweep her kitchen floor.(If there are four or more children in the house, use a shovel.) Continually reassure her that this too shall pass, she's not alone, and that what she is doing is awesomely worthwhile--even though it's mostly impossible for her to feel like it right now. Even just knowing that someone is on the way over to lend her a hand makes her feel less hopeless.