Barefoot and Pregnant

Ponderings on Catholicism, pregnancy, family life, homeschooling, and other miscellany.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Are You Done?

A very personal question when it comes to asking someone about their plans for their family size. "Are you done?" Ah, how does one answer?

This was the question posed to me about 1.5 weeks ago.

In church.

I was waiting for my oldest daughter to come out of the bathroom, and, as usual, I was holding baby Cate. A young woman comes up to me, dribbling all the usual, casual, "oh, you have a new baby" kind of stuff, and she acted like she knew me. I had seen her before, but for the life of me I still cannot place her. Maybe she is my son's CCD...er, I mean..."PSR" (more on that later) teacher (whom I've yet to officially meet, since DH does the drop-off and pick-up duties before we attend Mass). Or maybe she was some other catechist. After all, it was Catechetical Sunday. Maybe one of her kids had been in DH's class at one time. Anyway, I knew her, but didn't KNOW who she was.
She asked: Is this five now?
Me: No, six. (smiling graciously, while averting eyes to the bathroom door looking for daughter)
Her: Six?!? Are you done???

In church. I was asked this in church.

How on earth am I supposed to respond to THAT question. Obviously, the answer has to be charitable. The answer has to be authentically Catholic, since we ARE Catholics standing inside a Catholic church on a Sunday right before Mass. The answer has to be short because we have only a few moments left to get to our pews. Lastly, and most important, the answer has to be truthful.

I could've answered a multitude of ways, but most of them would've failed that last part. A "yes" would make me seem like a bad Catholic, closing the door on God's will in my life. A "no" would've made me look even nuttier than I already am. A thorough explanation of what I really wanted to say would've taken more time than I had. I'm afraid I just looked stupid as I shrugged my shoulders and sheepishly grinned as I answered "I don't know." Fortunately, my daughter came out of the bathroom right about that time and we high-tailed it up the stairs in time for Mass.

And what did I really want to say? Well, it probably would've been something like this:

While I don't think I'd like to add intentionally to our brood, I would willingly and lovingly accept another child if that were to be God's will for our family. We have not intentionally cut off ourselves from that slight possibility. We are faithful Catholics, loyal to the teachings of the Magisterium. We do not use artificial contraception, barriers, or other immoral "methods" to postpone pregnancy. Neither of us are sterilized. As an ecologically breastfeeding mother, I am currently enjoying the benefits of lactational amenorrhea, so conceiving at this time is not an issue. We are familiar with natural family planning and have used it in the past when we felt it was serious to avoid a pregnancy, so further down the road we will have to discern if that is the path we need to take. Right now, with six children 10 and under, I feel "tapped out" at times, so it is tempting to say, "Yes, I'm done. No more for me, thanks." But that really isn't an honest answer. I do not know the mind of God, I do not know what His plans for our family are. So, in all honesty, all I can say is "I don't know." It may seem like an answer that is foolish and irresponsible, but at least it is honest.