What does pro-life look like?

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Churches, let alone businesses, that actually support families are so, so rare. No wonder birth rates are dropping in the US, and no wonder women feel they have no alternatives. When taking a shower or keeping a child alive seems like a mutually-exclusive decision, those of us with babies truly look insane. I wonder if it’s not our own insanity so much as it is the insanity and disregard that our society hath wrought. It took this situation in my own life today to open my eyes to the struggle of (most often) mommas and families in our society (in a very, very small way):

Husband has been gone for the better part of two weeks, toddler is not real happy about that reality (let alone Momma), and six-months’-gestated baby brother couldn’t care less about the whole thing, he just wants to dance, and pump nauseating hormones around his momma’s veins all day and all night. 

Said Momma has developed tension headaches from storing the stress of these weeks in her shoulders and neck. Our bodies hold on to stress and to emotion in all kinds of ways, and recognizing how it happens to you can be a key to “surviving well” (a phrase I trademarked with my therapist yesterday, because that is exactly what being a working mom with a toddler and gestating child is about).

Rather than suffering in headaches for the rest of the month during Husband’s absence, she took action: called up to get a massage post-haste. The only available slot was 7:15pm the next day — cue texting possible sitters. Telling the masseuse that I’d have to find a sitter before I could commit to the slot — tire screech — she said, “Bring him along if you want, I can set up the room with toys to keep him busy.” 

This business will not only work out my tight tight tight muscles, but will let me *bring my child with me* while she does so.

My child exists (!) and (currently, as a two-year-old) needs constant supervision; this doesn’t mean that I must hide him away or pay someone to entertain him if I want to care for this swollen, achey body. My child’s care and my own health are not mutually exclusive. Reader, this was a revelation.

Caring for my family and caring for my body are not necessarily at odds. 

All it requires — which, granted, is totally counter-cultural and requires a sea-change for society — is thinking of, considering, and committing to not just a Momma paying someone to work out tense shoulders, but committing to her whole family, in a way, committing to the health, safety, and thriving of the whole community, of which the business, the Momma, the traveling Husband, the clingy toddler, and even the gestating son, are all constituent parts.

Off to consider how to make my own spheres of influence, my church and my hoped-for yoga classes, to be truly welcoming to families, especially to little children (and their hard-working caregivers).  Any ideas? Share below.

Been Blogging

In this phase, I’ve been blogging here less (clearly), investing my creative energies mostly in the little boy born last November. However, I’ve kept up a little bit of writing — mostly about motherhood, no surprise — over at Covenant, The Living Church’s blog. Catch my latest posts here:

The Sharpening Joy of Motherhood

After Birth

 

Mother Emily

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As I head down the straightaway of my last trimester, those around me expect that anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed by motherhood will set in. I don’t just mean people around me, but every mommy blog, book, and spammy email mentions this anxiety that must just be eating me up.

I don’t feel it. Continue reading

Lessons on Self-Worth from Facebook

Do you ever stop yourself from doing something good, because you know there’s something better that you could do?  (and then, end up not-doing the better thing and do no-thing instead?)

In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin uses the example of her friends’ birthdays: she’d mean to send them a card, or call them on the phone, but either the day passed and she forgot, or pulling out stationery and finding a stamp, or digging up a phone number just was too high a barrier, and she’d let another birthday–and another chance to connect–pass by.

Her dilemma hit home for me: if I couldn’t think up some clever or especially meaningful thought or wish to share on a friend’s facebook page for his or her birthday, I just said nothing at all.  My mind got used to ignoring the little birthday candle at the top of my newsfeed every day.

Rubin swallowed her pride, gathered all the pertinent birthdays into a program with requisite email addresses, and vowed to send an email to each person every year on their birthday.  Sure, a card or a phone call would have been “better,” but if the barrier to those actions was just high enough to keep her from completing them, an email was definitely better than nothing.

On my birthday earlier this year, I noticed that it wasn’t the clever memories or sayings that delighted me as well-wishes showed up on my newsfeed all day.  The messages that surprised and delighted me most were  from those people with whom I hadn’t had contact over the last year, but who took just long enough to notice that it was my birthday, and to write two or three words on my wall.  Just knowing that they’d thought of me warmed my heart and I started to see what it is that’s meant when we say “it’s the thought that counts,” or “90% of life is showing up.”–I’m often tempted to think that something’s got to be personalized, or super creative, or fantastically complex to be a good gift, or to be a job well done.

In and of ourselves, who we are when we’re just sitting on the couch, our very presence–that’s plenty for most people.

God created us to be fantastic, personalized, creative people just as we are, without energy-sapping window-dressing, complicated choreography, or intense planning.  Just sitting on the couch, doing nothing, “contributing” (in an economic sense) nothing–we’re plenty.