As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Friday, August 2, 2013

Choose Wisely

The post-baby body.  Natural family planning.  Breastfeeding. These are all issues that have been coming up in my newsfeed for the past week, thanks to the new royal baby, and awareness weeks for both NFP and breastfeeding.  In the case of all three, I've read the same arguments all surrounding the idea of not being judged by other people for what you choose.

Kate Middleton's post-baby body has been a hot topic of conversation for not trying to hide her post-baby figure following the birth of her baby prince, and I have to say that endears me to her.  As a woman, it is nice to see someone in the spotlight actually look like a real person does.  But in the aftermath of that, so many women are throwing themselves in the opposite direction, rallying being the "tiger-stripes" of pregnancy, celebrating each change that happens to a woman's body following birth, and "how-dare-you-try-to-fix-any-of-it-lest-you-be-ashamed-of-motherhood".  Do you seen what we're doing?  We're not relieving a burden, we're just shifting it.  Instead of accepting the breath of fresh air that is a royal going against the pressures of modern celebrity, we are placing that as the new norm.  If you don't do like Kate, you're a superficial, celebrity loving, ashamed-of-motherhood Mom.

NFP is another one.  A friend and I talked about pressure that comes with practicing NFP as a young couple, specifically if you are trying to postpone pregnancy.  We get so excited about babies (which is a good thing, don't get me wrong) that sometimes when we encounter a couple who had discerned it's not the Lord's timing, we treat them as though they are not open to God's will because they are not trying to have a baby right now.  We forget that God speaks to each couple individually, that sometimes He does ask them to wait, sometimes that's because a baby is not in His timing, and sometimes it's because it is but He wants to deepen their trust in them.  Because He loves their freedom and wants them to make a decision so personal to them on their own.  Who are we to pretend we know the Lord's will for someone else's life better than they do?

A friend posted this great article about breastfeeding, and supporting mothers regardless of their feeding choice.  It was a great conversation starter, but I'll admit a bit sad in a way, that we have come to a place in society where we need to be told not to judge others for their decisions.  We look to the approval of others so much (or at least I do), and technology has grown our inner circle from a small group of family and close friends (who are likely more understanding and less difficult to impress) to millions and millions, as far and as deep as we care to delve.  It's so easy to be so opinionated when you write something that you're not actually sharing face-to-face, and even easier for someone to read it and take it to heart.  And our opinions become so shaped by these, that we tend to take them as absolute truth, forgetting the fact that despite all the best (and not-so-best) information available, everyone's life is unique, everyone's decision personal, and that most parents take these things very, very seriously.  They have not arrived at the decisions they've made by accident.

All this taking things too personally can be a dangerous thing for a society that never wants anyone to feel bad.  When I was expecting my first child, a dear friend and mentor of mine mentioned that she believed God intends for mothers to be home with their babies.  She was not wrong in what she said, and yet I took it sooooo much to heart!  I carried it with me all the years I was a working mother, wishing I could be home and resenting her (or anyone else) for saying it.  Looking back now, I can see that she wasn't wrong.  She wasn't saying I was a bad mother for choosing to work, and we should not be stifled from speaking what we believe to be true.  Of course we don't live in a perfect world.  Of course there are reasons (good and legitimate) to make sacrifices, to do things differently than the way God intended.

I believe God intended for families to be free from financial debt, but I'm not.  So I do the best I can with what I'm living.  I believe God intended for mothers to nurse their babies, but some Moms can't, so they do the best they can with the life they have in front of them.  I believe bodies are meant to change with childbirth, and that you can celebrate your body either by going with the flow, or even by trying to fix up some of less-desirable side effects.  I believe you can be open to life and trying to postpone pregnancy simultaneously, and that you can be affirmed in your desires either by being successful in your attempts or in being surprised by a new baby. But mostly, I believe we need to free ourselves from this desire we have to make everyone happy.  No matter what we discern, there will always be someone who thinks we're wrong (and will probably tell us so).  The answer is not to keep people from speaking what they believe is the truth, but learning to properly discern it ourselves. To look to the Church and her teachings, to pray, and having done so, to walk with confidence on whatever path the Lord lays before us.

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