Sorry about that. Just read it. K? K.
I believe it is harder to be a mom now than it ever has been before. Sure, we have modern technology that make life a heck of a lot more convenient. We don't have to go to a river and wash our clothes. We can heat up leftovers in a matter of 30 seconds in the microwave and call that dinner. We have the ability to pop in a movie for the kids if things get a little too hectic around the house and mom needs a few minutes to herself.
But here's what most of us don't have: help. Trust me, I'm not degrading our husbands in any way. I appreciate and need my husband's help more than anything. And I have SO much support from family and friends who help with babysitting and cleaning that I'm probably one of the luckiest moms out there. What I'm referring to is a community of women to essentially live together and contribute their help in all areas that need it. Raising children. Cleaning. Cooking. Teaching. And, just as importantly, providing emotional and spiritual support for each other.
Now, family units are much smaller. A "typical" household consists of two parents and their children. Even if we live near our families, we might only see them a few times a month. Or even less, depending on the situation. Many families live clear across the country from each other, and can only visit once per year, or even less.
This presents a big problem for mothers. (I'm sure it does for fathers too, but I'm speaking from a mother's perspective). Whether you work outside the home or you work as a full time stay at home mom, you are expected to maintain your house and family in the same way women have been doing for thousands of years:
- Cook wholesome and healthy meals for your family
- Respect your family's budget by saving as much money as possible
- Keep your house clean and organized
- Make your place of living look and feel cozy, comfortable, and decorated
- Keep track of everyone's schedules
- Give individual attention to each member of your family on a regular basis
- Make time for yourself
- Make time for prayer
Large families used to be the norm. A family made up of two adults and 15 children was not anything mind blowing. Now, we have TV shows about these types of families. We view them almost the same way we view zoo animals: with wonder, awe, and fear. And, of course, we automatically categorize these families as "weird" or "religious zealots".
It is also due to our consumerist and individualistic society. Our goals are to have enough money to be comfortable and to be able to give our children all the opportunities we can. We often feel sorry for large families who can't afford to go on vacations or go out to nice restaurants. "If only they would have been smarter and had less children," people say. But do you know what the funny thing is? In my experience, every single one of these families I have seen are happier than anyone else I know. They don't have a lot of money. They don't have a big house. Several children must share rooms. Sometimes they have to eat beans and tortillas for dinner for weeks so they can pay their bills. But they have each other. Life is hard and stressful for them, but they are the most fulfilled and peaceful people I know. Their homes are full of life and laughter.
The bottom line: God provides for those who trust in Him.
That being said, having a large family is not for everyone. Although the Catholic Church is against any form of contraception, She recognizes that there are serious situations in which a mother and a father might NEED a break from children. I think now, more than ever, parents have legitimate reasons to space their children out more than before. We don't have a community living situation in most cases like families in almost every generation before us did. We don't have the help. And sometimes, we get emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. Sometimes, serious health issues arise in which it would be extremely dangerous for a mother to get pregnant or give birth. Other times, a family's financial situation might be so dire that they in no way can afford another child at the moment.
For this reason, God gave us the scientific knowledge of Natural Family Planning, or NFP. Unlike contraception, it does not separate sex from procreation. It can be used to conceive children OR to avoid pregnancy. Keep on the lookout for my next post explaining what it is, how it works, and why it is a morally acceptable.