Last week was chock full. We had the funeral for My Darling's uncle (finally--and it was beautiful, thanks be to God), followed by a First Communion Mass and celebration (on the same day as the funeral, for Pete's sake), then the annual family camping weekend for My Darling's gigantic family (which ran from Thursday until Sunday but we were only there Friday and Saturday), and then on Sunday we took the Big Three to camp for the week. Shwew!
Quite honestly, I was dreading most of the weekend. Although My Darling comes from a large family, most of them don't understand the Big Family mentality and pretty much turn their noses up at the joyful acceptance of fertility and the gift of children. This means that each time a pregnancy is announced, there are shamelessly lewd comments made about the bedroom habits of the expecting couple, along with remarks like, "What's the matter, you haven't heard of birth control?" (well....like Bishop Sheen once said, those who use birth control use it because they don't want to give birth or they don't want to exercise self control...we choose to use NFP when we want to avoid a pregnancy, and each of our pregnancies--from the Reepicheep on--are absolutely intended) "So are you done yet?" (as though it's a project) and, "So are you going to get fixed this time?" (as if something were broken) and, "Boy, you just can't keep your legs closed, huh?" (I won't even dignify this one...)
When the Pickle was born, we heard lots of comments (even from complete strangers) about how now we had our boy and our girl--The Perfect Family!--so we could be done now. These types of comments irk me for so many reasons, not the least of which is that our family is perfect no matter how many children we have, no matter how "evenly divided" they are between boys and girls. Is this to say that our friends who have four boys and one girl--and are expecting their fifth boy--is not a perfect family? Or that my sisters-in-law, each with two children (one with two boys, one with two girls) don't have perfect families? However many children God intends for our family, no matter the number of each gender, no matter how many in heaven or on earth, is the perfect family in our eyes.
The questions dealing with, "Gee, can you really afford another one?" get me, too. "Gee, is that really any of your business?" It kills me how intent our society is on stressing material goods and objectifying our children, as though they are burdens. No, we can't afford to budget in luxuries like expensive vacations or boats or going to the movies every week. We shop at Aldi's, St. Vincent de Paul stores and garage sales. We camp when we want a getaway. We didn't hire a contractor to build our addition. We budget very carefully, seldom indulge in things that are costly (except things like appliances....), and we teach our children that the things they have are to be treated with care, and that if they choose to attend college they need to work hard to earn scholarships (and money). Somehow, this has not made our lives miserable or lacking in any way--it's actually brought us joy in the little things!
We've had run-ins with so many friends and relatives about our family, and it makes me sad...and it's largely why I dreaded the majority of this weekend. We would love for just one announcement of new life to be met with joy rather than skepticism. We would relish not having to defend our faith and our family, to not be attacked for the way we are raising up our children. I suppose most of all, we would like our families to just love and support us rather than questioning every decision we make: our homeschooling, our strict adherence to the Church and her teachings, our traditional marriage (complete with Honor and Obey, for Pete's sake!), the number of children we have, the way we discipline them, the activities we allow them to participate in (or not), etc. ad nauseum.....
I so did not intend for this to be a ranting post, but sometimes you just have to let off a little steam. Now that everyone in the family knows about this beautiful baby--who is, at this very moment, bouncing around like Tigger!--I am feeling somewhat relieved. No more, "What will Aunt So-and-so say when she finds out?" It's not that I really care what other people think; I just dread confrontations with people that I love.
Lastly, stemming from a rather unpleasant conversation we had with one relative this weekend, I would ask you to pray for the Church as a whole: those who follow the teaching of the Church, those who don't, those who are learning more about their faith through a desire to seek the truth, who are searching and studying to deepen their love of God, those in formation for the priesthood, and of course, our dear bishops and priests...all of them. It is hurtful to know so very many wonderful priests who lovingly guide us and teach us, and then to have people we know and love malign these good men for their steadfast adherence to the truth and their unwavering mission to preach the Word of God and bring us closer to Jesus Christ.
[Edit: I have to, at this point, add a video link. This is an amazing vocations video that My Darling saw on a men's retreat, and it definitely stirred his heart...not that he is called to the priesthood, for Pete's sake, but that we more fully support the men who are--maybe, in the future, even our own sons. Added Tuesday, July 8, 2008, at 7:27 PM.]
Now my promise: My next post will be far more light-hearted.