My husband and I want to start a family, but not any time soon. (My new employer is not saddened by this fact.) He's still in school and we might have some big changes on the horizon. The timing isn't right. And gosh darn it, we're newlyweds! Good thing our families aren't rushing us....altho I'm sure they'd be thrilled...or at least most of them would be. I'm not sure my dad is quite ready to be a grandpa yet, not that that would hold him back any...
We employ a preventative method or two, and I try to keep aware of the calendar, so I'm not too worried. Nothing is 100% effective, though, so I'm prone to being a little bit anxious from time to time. Especially now. We are not in a good place for kids, not yet.
I, personally, have always been afraid of having a baby. Part of the reason I embraced abstinence before married was because I was dead terrified of ever having to tell my family I was having a baby. Terrified.
In the environment I grew up in, unwed mothers were derelects, caused shame for their families, deserved to be criticized and their families should grieve. Girls in my church who got pregnant were supported, once they 'confessed' to the church body. They would stand up, usually with their families and close friends, say what was going on, say their plans, and we as a church would commit to supporting them. A lot of people in the church didn't like this. Some people thought we were TOO supportive.
By the time I'd developed a mind of my own and didn't necessarily buy into the whole 'don't have sex because God says so' mandates all around me, I was old enough to appreciate the smarts of not having sex until I was in a position to be able to handle it. IE, married, husband working, enough money for me to stay at home, stable life. So I waited. And that was smart. And I'm proud of myself for waiting.
I know the vast majority of people wouldn't, and don't, make the same decision. I hope my kids will. I haven't quite figured out how to teach them this, and I don't plan on raising kids in an aggressively evangelical environment. I don't want my kids to be taught that modern science is out to get them, that the world is a dangerous place, and that we need to be constantly on the defensive. The messages really hit home with me...but I wasn't your average kid. I took everything to heart and believed it fervently. I'm old enough now to recognize the wisdom in what I was taught, but not respect the method in which it was delivered.
Having a healthy skepticism is good. Avoiding things that are dangerous and destructive is good. Living as the best you can be is good. Knowing who you are and why you are that way is good. Avoiding the pain and drama that sex brings is good. It was perhaps the best decision I ever made.
But writing off heaps of modern science is ridiculous - It took me getting to IB Higher Level Chem in high school to acknowledge that acid rain can and does exist. Vowing to exclude myself from the mainstream because 'drugs and alcohol were everywhere, and that's bad' led me to being judgmental and solitary, and relatively friendless, with huge misgivings about peers who didn't necessarily deserve that. Studying the Bible and learning about my faith and trying to find practical applications was a very good thing - and it helps when people ask you about your faith and you can respond and discuss it without being too theological or doctrinal or dogmatic - but approaching the world as a scary, harmful place that you need to defend yourself from is NOT a good way to live. You're operating out of criticism, judgment, and ignorance, instead of out of acceptance and love.
Growing up, I was taught to embrace what was right, and reject what was not. I wasn't taught how to filter this modus operandi. I never learned to coexist peacefully with my surroundings. I spent so much time judging and condemning and protecting myself that I missed out on a lot of fantastic opportunities to reach OUT with God's love and embrace people, real people, average people.
I was taught that there is always a right and always a wrong and that the Bible is definitive. Now, don't get me wrong. I love the Bible. And it's pretty definitive about some things. But a lot of things are not quite as black-and-white as some folks had me believe. I do believe in absolutes, in truth, in right and wrong. I am not a relativist by any stretch. I am very comfortable with rules and standards and merit. More recently, though, I'm about using my own head.
Not everything is black and white. There's more than one way to make a pie. There's more than one way to wash dishes. And there's more than one way to make a family.
I've been reading this blog on Glamour Magazine's website. I know...Glamour isn't really my scene ... but this particular blog has really captured my attention. It's written by a woman who found herself pregnant at 26. The dad was her boyfriend, and they were committed, but not THAT committed. And he was not interested in being a part of what she calls 'Team Baby.' So she informed her parents and then moved home for a little while to get her new life together. Her folks seemed to get on board pretty fast (and actually were quite unhappy when she got her own place a couple months before the baby was born) and she has a really supportive network of family and friends.
She seems like a pretty tough cookie. She's had a lot of criticism and no shortage of hard times. But she's determined to be the best she can, and she doesn't seem to have succumbed to victimizing herself and agonizing (too much) about her situation. She's up front about saying she was stupid for not using a condom. Now she's making a good life for herself and her son. She's happy now, and I say, good for her.
Her circumstance isn't ideal. It's not what she envisioned. She doesn't have the husband she thought she'd have by now and she doesn't party it up in the City, either. But she loves her son, and she loves having him in her life. She made a mistake. A big one. It changed her life forever, and will always impact her son's life as well. So...what then? Does she deserve to be condemned? Should she be criticized and judged and rejected? Is she wrong?
What about me? Would I be wrong for having a baby now? Because even though I'm married now, it would be disastrous. Suddenly, because I have a husband and a wedding band, it would be deemed acceptable in the eyes of God...and God's people.... Even tho the kid would spend the first part of its life in a low-income home with me shipping it off to daycare because I had to work and Brian would be troubled either because he would be finishing his last year of school and thus not working to support his new family, or he'd be prolonging his education for the sake of working - a scenario that we both know would not be conducive to good mental health for either of us. But because we're married, baby = fantastic news and celebration?
To be honest, I'm scared of having kids. I'm scared of the responsibility, of the time commitment, of the distinct lack of sleep-in mornings. I'm scared of the money-sucking aspect. I'm scared of tantrums and choking and SIDS. I'm scared of the heartache. I'm scared I won't be able to keep up. I'm scared of being invisible.
In other words, I am not in the position to have a kid. But folks who criticize unwed mothers, babies out of wedlock, blah blah blah, wouldn't bat an eye at me. Even when a lot of these women are in much better positions to care for a child than I am. But because I say a vow in a church that I'll love my husband forever, I am passed over by the critics?
We, as Christians, should be showing God's LOVE, not speaking judgment on his behalf. Having a baby when you aren't ready is SCARY, husband or not. What better time is there to swoop in and show compassion and love? Why do so many Christians get it so wrong?
I could go on forever...oh wait, I'm already halfway there! Many props to anyone who read this far...you are the true trekkers. Either that, or you are THAT BORED. Either way, high fives! I have a feeling this won't be my last musings on the subjects of 'good families' and 'Christians who screw it up.' No shortage of opinions here!!