hormonal observation #5

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some people get highly offended when you hold up the contraception mirror to their faces. the topic can make for very uncomfortable dinner conversation, too.

everyone seems pretty free 'n easy with the ol' "was it planned?" question upon learning of our pregnancy. and while "is that really ANY of your business?" is what i truly want to yell, it doesn't sound very ecumenical.

as you've read before my immediate reply is usually, "yes, we were having sex," because it can, said with the appropriate nonchalance, be laughed off. but when i am asked by people that i either don't know well enough or know just enough, i've tried to modify my answer. i don't know why, but the question still throws me for a loop, and my replies can be knee-jerks, so i try to have a prepared response.

at first i was saying "well, we don't contracept" as if it really was any of their business in the first place. one woman accused me of saying the word "contracept" as if it were a four-letter word. another asked why i was using a noun as a verb. touchy-touchy, see?

i tried to modify and say "we don't use contraception." more often than not this is a foreign concept and they say something like, "what do you mean?" with a brow as wrinkled as if you've just shown them a picture of a flat planet earth.

of course, if you move any further into this discussion they get very defensive and things can get ugly very quickly, "are you saying there's something wrong with being responsible about family size?" no, that's not confrontational now is it?

replying, "well, we're open to life" brings on immediate snears and an uncomfortably loud "what's THAT supposed to mean? we have to have TWENTY kids to be HOLY like you?" is it really such a no-win situation?

one friend advised that i just reply "yes, they were ALL planned" and leave it at that. sounds reasonable enough, but i must have a sadistic streak because a saccharine response like "i simply don't think children should be avoided like a disease" just sort of falls out of my mouth. though i don't recommend it, actually, that one buys enough time to excuse yourself from the conversation completely.

i have found that, said politley, "why do you ask?" stumps the other pregnant women in ob/gyn offices. but you have to be careful in these situations because they're usually as hormonal as you are and it's wise to tread softly.

this morning i was on the phone with our insurance carrier to set up our coverage on our new vehicle and, somewhere between VIN number and anti-lock brakes, just out of the blue, she asked if the twins were planned.
blinkblink. "what?"
she repeated the question.
i stumbled out "well, uh, yes, we, uh, were having, uh, sex..."
she belted out a hearty, "that's NOT what i mean! did you PLAN to have more?"
how do you get outta that one? d'oh, i felt like an idiot -- it's too early to have this conversation, lady! i finally admitted with a heavy sigh, "i don't know what to tell you."

why is contaception so controversial? why are people so defensive about it? is it because it really is a matter of morality and people know it, even if only on a subconcious level? by the way, respond "we don't contracept/avoid pregnancy" to a self-proclaimed catholic who contracepts and ... ah-hell, katy bar the door!


Here's my theory. When they ask you randomly, just say, "Of course! Who WOULDN'T want six gifts from God!?!" And just leave it at that. Quick question, relatively sweet answer.

If they corner you after you give them a throw away answer, then they deserve what they get. If they're asking for the truth, then they'll get it. People who push shouldn't then take it upon themselves to be offended with the answers to pushy questions.

Some people will never be happy until you fall down in tears begging forgiveness for babies #5 and 6. Obviously they have an agenda, and you can't fulfill it. Smile at them and move away.

Of course it's because it's an issue of morality, and people know it!

And I think it's perfectly acceptable to say "we don't use contraception" to other Catholics who ask if your children were "planned." (Congratulations, by the way!) I think it is much more offensive to assume that a Catholic person is/should be using contraception (and thus endangering her soul) than to assume that she is not the way that you do when you tell someone, "Of course we're not contracepting." I think you should keep saying it - it's a great witness!

"why are people so defensive about it? is it because it really is a matter of morality and people know it, even if only on a subconcious level?"

Thats my theory. We have had three kids in three years. Its bad enough when conversation is involved. In my experience just having kids close together indicates that you are "hollier than thou" to some people. Other than that, I cannot figure out why the mere presence of my kids is offensive to some people. They aren't concerned with population, they are concerned with frequent sex without any of the "side effects" which have historically accompanied it. People have a disordered view of sex because they have divided it from the procreative aspect of it ... IMHO this has had dire conseqences in our society and for the most part I think more people would come to the Catholic conclusion if they didn't feel pressured that it was very "flat earth" to hold it.

Society thinks it is beyond the question, so most everyone else thinks they are too ... they want to be past it, but they cannot be past it. Their conscience tells them otherwise.

Ggoose is my dh. Isn't he awesome? :)

We had some friends over last night for dinner, and the wife made the comment that she likes kids, but she just wants to do other things. And then she followed that up with "Know what I mean?"

So I said "Yes." Not because I agreed, but because I DO know what she means. But it's like someone saying "I'm a stripper because it makes so much money, know what I mean?" I would say "Yes" to that too.

I see the perspective of wanting to have free time to persue lots of other good things. Which my friend does. But she also ridicules large families. And homeschoolers. She seems like a child to me. Like Peter Pan who wanted to never grow up. I understand that. But you're staying at the bottom of the mountain that way.

Nice direct responses. I also like keeping my privacy though. So next time I plan to say, "My, what a personal question!"

Keep fightin' the good fight Smock. You know you're doing something right when you're drawin' fire. Elizabeth is right about it being a good witness.

One of the most scandalous verses in the bible is where Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom and the power to bind & loosen. Which gives the Church authority. Which is something few want to admit the church has, especially concerning our sex lives. It doesn't surprise me that contraception is so controversial since it centers on sex and authority in a society that worships power & sex.

Well, when I just had my two boys who were 15 months apart I got the "were they planned" question. Now that I have my daughter(I finally got my girl so naturally I'd want to be through with childbearing) I get this: You got your tubes tied right? Seriously I've gotten this more than once. I think if I mention she was a c-section they automatically assume I would beg for my tubes to be tied.

I belong to a group online that is for Moms who sell kid's clothes on ebay. There was a post where everyone was supposed to give the meaning of their screen name. One lady piped up quickly and said hers was obvious, it was 3ntied. She had her three and by golly she got those tubes tied. Then there were the responses about how cute and clever that name was and someone else said "my name should be 2ntied".

I guess y'all are better than me because I don't have a good Cathoilic response or I should say I don't give one because it would be wasted on the person who's asking. Thay already think I'm loopy because I have three kids ages 5 and under. It's none of their beeswax anyway.

I know how you feel Smock. The last few times I got the "Are you crazy?" I've answered with a chuckle and said "I guess so".

Just tell them that you need more hands for the farm. That usually shocks even the nosiest and rudest interrogators into silence.

I LOVE that question too. It used to make me feel really uncomfortable (we are expecting #7, and quite frankly only one of them was "planned" and "tried for" buy us). I like the idea of acting SHOCKED and saying something like "Well, of course we don't use contraception!!" gasp-gasp-gasp! "You do know that the Church forbids it's use, don't you??"

But lately, I just answer an honest "Yes, this baby was planned-- by God." 'Nuff said.

Saying the word contraception is like yelling out the word "sex" to some people. It makes them think about you doing, well, it. A weird schizoid Puritanism: abort freely, legalize homosexual relationships, but don't talk about normal sex, that's dirty. Sigh.

I like the answer I've heard: "We're thrilled with the family God is giving us!" In turn, I use it to people I see with big families: "What a beautiful big family God's giving you!" Gets faith in there, hints at the openness to life and is so cheerful it's hard for naysayers to continue with their grump and insult.

I think I have taken the wrong tack on the whole we don't contracept thing. It is not something that really needs an answer. Society as a whole advocates a "don't sacrafice, don't struggle, take it easy" mentality. Throwing that back at people does not change their minds. They only see "militant" Catholicism as really quite ugly. If you say: This is my calling. It's hard and there is sacrafice, but this is what my husband I chose together to be our life. Then it is not the question is not why don't I contracept, but why do you? The question becomes what is your calling?

Last time I saw Mama June (a evangelical Christian woman in her 70's who works the graveyard shift at Ol' South in Fort Worth), she said she was sure glad we had all the money to afford all them kids. I love Mama June, I would never insult her. I simply said: this is my calling. It is hard and we make a lot of sacrafices. We know that we'd rather have children than trips to Paris.

She said, Honey, I'm proud of you.

I love this post! I have 7 children, and get asked questions all the time. I have a few pat answers, but they all are a little dishonest. As I get older, I get more direct and unconcerned about their feelings (they certainly aren't concerned about my feelings when they ask me such a personal question, are they?) My latest favorite response to the "Are you done" question is, "I don't know, but we won't block the blessings." To the "Well, whatever makes you happy. I just could never do it." I answer, "I had no idea this would make me so happy before I had these kids. It is harder than anything I ever thought I could do. But I am doing it, and there's a lesson in that." The one that really gets me is "Well, you are special, and have x,y,z, so you can do it. Not everyone has the ability." I tell them we didn't have x,y,or z before we had the kids, they came after. (x,y,z,represent many things I have heard - patience, money, a happy marriage, organizational skills, etc.) Mostly, if you substitute a job promotion for child, no one would use those excuses, they would anxiously rise to the occasion. Often I will say, "Don't sell yourself short. You can accomplish more than you think when love is the motivation." Anyway, thanks for the "I am not alone" moment.

anytime, renee (hey! that's my middle name). stop by any ol' time.



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This page contains a single entry by smockmomma published on February 21, 2005 11:22 AM.

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