With a toddling sixteen month old I’ve noticed that one particular question seems to be coming up a lot lately (actually I guess it’s two separate questions, but they are basically the same question when it comes down to it). I hear it from people I know well and from casual acquaintances. They say it with a smile and raised eyebrows and I suddenly find myself grinding my teeth a bit (a habit which I’ve really got to get rid of because it gives me a headache). The answer is simple, in truth, but I’ve learned that the truth doesn’t always bring positive reactions. That’s because in this case, the truth tends to be rather counter cultural. Can you guess what the questions are?
“So, when are you going to have the next one?” or “So are you going to have anymore.”
When we first started getting these questions (about a year ago) I tried plain and simple honesty. To the question “when are you going to have the next one” I’d say, “Whenever God decides to add to our family” and to the question “are you going to have anymore” I’d say “we hope so and if God wills it we definitely will have as many as he sends us” (or something along those lines).
The looks stopped just short of jaw dropping. You would think I’d just let out a stream of profanity. Some people shake their heads, horrified by the idea of letting God dictate how many children we will bring into the world. Now that I think about it, we never actually got a positive reaction. Once I actually heard “oh not that many!” in response to the answer that we would take as many as God gives us.
And that’s probably why I dread the question so much now.
You see, the last century taught women and men that they needed to “take control of their sexuality.” They took control of their fertility too and now many women believe that controlling that fertility is an innate right, regardless of the cost. The idea that we’re letting God decide what happens is foreign these days, even among the majority of young people who claim to be “Catholic.”
Fortunately I think I’ve finally figured out how to answer the question. I won’t lie, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t have to give an actual answer. When people say “when’s the next one coming along?” I smile and shrug and most people take that to mean “not for a very long time.” And the reasoning that leads them to that conclusion is a little bit sad. Our society has forgotten that children are a blessing and a gift from God and not a burden to be carried simply because we must.
We’ll take all the blessings God sends our way!
And that is my honest and full answer to that frequently asked question!