Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sex-Selective Abortion Comes to U.S.

I logged on to Twitter today, and this article came up on my feed from the National Catholic Register.  Read the article, and see my commentary below.
Sex-Selective Abortion Comes to U.S

I WISH I could say this was the first time I read or heard about sex selection coming to the United States, but unfortunately, I have read several others articles just like this one.  I am especially disturbed by the reference to "family balancing" under the subtitle of Designer Families. 

In my previous post, "Our Lady of the Pots and Pans," I talked about my unfortunate experience of encountering more and more women who just want 1 boy and 1 girl.  Don't get me wrong.  There is nothing wrong with having a smaller family, and nothing wrong with wanting both a boy and a girl. 

There is, however, something very wrong with failing to recognize and appreciate life at all stages.  There is something very wrong with treating human life as a commodity.  There is an unhealthy, growing trend of having children just have them (like they are accessories) in the United States and in other countries. 

I'm not sure how to accurately describe what I'm seeing, but there is a growing consumerist attitude toward children.  My husband and I weren't fully aware of how prevalent this attitude had become until we announced we were expecting our third child.  Instead of "Congratulations," we were showered with comments like,

"But you already have a boy and a girl." 


"You're nuts!"

"How many are you going to have?!?!"

"Time to buy a bigger house!"

I'm afraid with the rise of birth control, vasectomies, availability of the morning after pill (located right next to the pregnancy tests in your local drug store), and abortion of children who are identified as possibly having a genetic defect (not to mention abortion for other reasons), that this is what it is coming next-- sex selection (more abortion).  I know readers will say I'm being extreme, but I disagree.  When we fail to value and recognize life at all stages, a culture of death becomes more and more socially acceptable.

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."
~ Blessed Mother Teresa ~

Monday, June 25, 2012

Cat Chat

cat chat family on setI hate to admit it, but I use television as a babysitter sometimes. 

In my defense, we spent the last three hours playing with friends at an indoor playgym.  The kids have been fed a healthy lunch.  The boys are napping, and my daughter (Miss Never Stops Talking) is watching Cat Chat while I squeeze some writing time in.

I just wanted to give a shoutout to Cat Chat because it is a FANTASTIC children's program.  I'd describe it as a Catholic mix of The Wiggles, the Partridge Family, & the Fresh Beat Band.  My 2 & 5 year olds LOVE the show.  It is mostly musical (performed by a Catholic family with 5 kids).  They also spend time introducing the kids to a Catholic concept (for example, The Sacraments), and they highlight a saint in each episode.  Very cool. 

Most Catholic Vacation Bible School programs are based on the show as well.  I'm disappointed Miss Never Stops Talking will miss VBS this year because we are moving.

Check out the Cat Chat website for more information and your local viewing schedule.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Our Lady of the Pots and Pans-- Finding Grace by Embracing Motherhood

Let's face it-- motherhood is rarely glamorous.  As a mother of three young children, ages 5, 2, and 7 months, my days are usually exhausting and at times, daunting. 

Today my 7 month old woke up at 4:45am (JOY!), and the two older children woke up shortly after.  Before even indulging in a simple cup of coffee, I had sleepily fed three hungry children, changed two diapers, started the laundry, and started unloading the dishwasher.  Where was my husband, you ask?  He was awarded a much deserved promotion (BRAVO!) by his company, so he is currently living in ANOTHER STATE until the kids and I are able to move into our new home.  Our family will live in separate states for a total of 6 weeks!  Ah, the life of a corporate wife!

While venturing out in public with my three little ones, whether shopping, walking our dog, or attempting to go to mass, I tend to get variations of the same comment, "Boy, you have your hands full!  I don't know how you do it!" 

Most people are just trying to make polite conversation.  I usually smile and nod in acknowledgement.  Sometimes I'll add, "They are all great kids.  I'm lucky," or I'll take the opportunity to praise my 5-year-old daughter saying something like, "I'm so blessed to have such a helpful and capable daughter to help me.  She is so good with her little brothers," since these curious, well meaning strangers tend to dote on my baby boys. 

Nicer and even more well meaning strangers will offer to help by holding a door open for me, or they will compliment me on how beautiful and well behaved my children are (disclosure-- they are not always well behaved!).  These types of folks are my favorite people to interact with!  Once, while struggling to load both kids and groceries into my car, a kind woman helped me.  God bless her because I needed help that day!

Unfortunately, some people are less kind.  I'm not even sure if it's intentional.  Typically, these tend to be female acquaintances I am friends with.  One will say something like, "You're crazy!  Are you sure you want more?!?!  I told my husband after Number 2 was born, he better go get clipped because if he got me pregnant again..."  My typical response is to smile politely.  I usually feel like a deer caught in headlights because even though I find myself in the same situation over and over again, I can never seem to muster up the right words to say. 

What are the rights words?  God, help me to find them.  In both situations I feel like I have a golden opportunity to promote a culture of life, to tell people how wonderful having a family can be, but I am only given enough time to give a simple sound bite.  How do I respond in a situation like that?

In both situations, I feel like people really do want answers.  I feel like some of the strangers I meet really do want to know how I manage three kids 5-years-old and younger.  I feel like the ladies who tell me I'm crazy for having a larger family want answers too.  I feel like both parties are saying, I'm struggling, what's your secret?

In a wonderful turn of events, yesterday, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with a childhood friend via Facebook.  I asked how he and his wife were doing, and I was ecstatic and overjoyed by the answer I received back.  He responded with an update on his family and specifically his new son and concluded with, "I love being a dad!"  I cannot tell how joyful those 5 simple words made me feel.  In a culture that seems to value materialism and convenience over life, it was refreshing to hear someone else (someone who is not Catholic) LOVES being a parent. YES!  WIN!

You see, I love being a mom too.  It's not always easy.  In fact, most of the time, it's actually incredibly difficult, but I LOVE BEING A MOM!  Here's why--

I never knew what I was capable of until I became a mother.  As a runner, I'd compare raising children to training for a major athletic endeavor-- marathon, triathlon, iron man, whatever.  As a parent, just as with athletics, I become stronger-- more capable, more patient, more creative each day as I "train" or tackle the day's challenges.  It's hard.  It hurts to grow spiritually and emotionally, just as my muscles ache when I'm training physically.  Yet, the rewards from motherhood are better than those of any athletic event.  Instead of earning a medal, I get a kid who can read, use the potty, and is kind to others.  AWESOME!  I wish more parents could see that the growing pains of family life are only temporary and are actually an indication of growth and progress.

As a Catholic, when the going gets rough, I think of the advice a priest gave to me.  He told me about Pope John Paul I who popularized the title and concept of Our Lady of the Pots and Pans.  As a stay at home mother with young children, I try to find holiness in my every day tasks just as our Blessed Mother did.  I take pride in that.  When I'm changing my third poopy diaper in an hour, I smile to myself knowing that I am winning a spiritual battle against my own selfishness. 

I guess if I had to share my secret, I'd say life isn't about getting what you want.  True happiness and love come with serving others (and serving God through your service to others).  As a parent, I take it day by day and trust in God that everything will work out the way it's supposed to.  I think of St. Andre Bessette who said, "Do not seek to have these trials lifted from you.  Instead, ask for the grace to bear them well."

These experiences and attitudes are important to reflect on considering our current political climate, specifically in regard to the HHS mandate.  It is imperative that we promote a culture of life in our every day lives.  It is alarming to me that so many of the women I interact with regularly (both secular and Christian) tend to view their children as burdens. It's sad, really. I hear many women long for their former lives-- being able to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Their children (and even their husbands), in my observation, seem to be inconveniences to these women, instead of sources of love and joy.

At times, my husband and I have felt the brunt of resentful, sarcastic comments and backhanded compliments because we are open to life. Cardinal Dolan recently addressed this unfortunate trend in his e-book, True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty. He writes, "I worry this experience is becoming the norm for any mom and dad with two or more children under the age of five...Modern, secular cultures seem to view the baby as a commodity or an accessory at best and an inconvenience or a burden at worst."  Later, he continues, "We humans are at our best when we give ourselves away in selfless love and live no longer for ourselves, but for another...nothing calls us from narcissistic self-absorption in a universe of one to a world of solidarity more than a baby."

It is important as Catholics that we teach others that no one has an easy life.  As St. Josemaria Escriva wrote, "Life is a matter of facing up to difficulties and of experiencing in our hearts both joy and sorrow.  It is in this forge that man can acquire fortitude, patience, magnanimity, and composure."  When we try to rid ourselves of the necessary strains and pressures of family life, we also rid ourselves of the joy and grace that come with being a parent and spouse.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I'm back, BA-BY!!!

I'd like to say it was my husband's ongoing encouragement and confidence in my writing that encouraged me to start blogging again, but truthfully, it felt more like nagging.

Him: "When are you going to start writing again?"
Me: "I don't know."
Him:"You're really talented, you know..."
Me: "Yeah...I know." (*smiling*  I'm so modest!)
Him: "If God gave you a gift, you should should use it."
Me: "Yeah, I know." (*really thinking*)

Other people kept asking me about this blog too.  It's hard to explain why I stopped writing.

I don't think I was ready for the response I got from people, and I should state for the record that the response was both good and bad. 

Good things that happened:
  • I inspired some friends to start their own blogs which is really cool!
  • I inspired other friends to start reexaminating their spiritual selves-- WAY COOLER!!! 
  • I felt like I found my niche in life which felt awesome.
  • My husband deepened his faith-- AWESOME!

Bad things that happened:
  • Some people started coming to me for religious/spiritual advice.  I'm not a priest, folks!  If you have serious spiritual questions, you need to go to confession and begin an ongoing relationship with your priest to get spiritual direction.  They do that!  You can just go talk to them, and they will give you advice.  You just need to make an appointment and be prepared to hear their opinion.  It reminds me of something a priest once told me--  God is always there and always ready to help you.  Think of Him with an arm reaching down from Heaven.  You just need to reach up and grab His hand.  I don't think people realized how uncomfortable this made me feel.  I just wanted to start a blog about my life.  I never intended to become a spiritual director.  That is a lot of responsibility.
  • My blog made some friends feel uncomfortable around me.  Even though I was the same person I had always been, some friends freaked out a bit and thought I was different.
  • Some people made jerky comments about my blog.  I remember this one mom from the neighborhood saying, "I read your blog.  Well, not that much, but a little.  That's cool that you're blogging, and I'm glad you're not taking yourself too seriously with the whole Catholic thing."  What does that even mean? !?!
  • Some friends/acquaintances tried to stereotype me.  It was like they wanted to make a Catholic caricature out of me.  It was as if they could only understand me if I fit into a box of what they thought a Catholic was.  It was frustrating.  I felt constrained in those relationships.
  • Other friends wanted me to be their personal representative for the Catholic church.  They wanted me to answer all their questions and address all their grievances against the church-- Why can't women be priests?  What about the church sex scandal?  The list goes on.  I don't mind discussing those topics sometimes, but honestly, it got exhausting.  At times, it was rude and obnoxious.

Ultimately, I needed a break, but I think I'm ready to blog again.  Please bear with me as I experiment with my writing.