I wanted to highlight this beautiful comment on my post Changing room, about the mixed feelings I had on putting away the diaper-changing table.
Wow, I'm having the same issues now that my fifth is walking.
I nearly died after he was born, so we're thinking no more, although we always acknowledge the fact that God is in charge and may have an alternate plan.
I read somewhere else that all the work we do to be open to life really does make us open to life (by the grace of God, of course), which means that it's hard to get to the end of the child bearing, no matter what the reason is.
Maybe the solution is to focus our openness-to-life skills in other areas?
There are so many ways, like being open to the life God is unfolding for my older kids, for a simple and practical start...
This is really, really smart, and beautiful, and the last bit is exactly what I needed to hear right now.
"Open to life" has a specific meaning when we Catholics are talking about marriage, one that we can't gloss away or substitute. It means, rather bluntly, that we do not attempt to render our sexual intercourse sterile. It can't mean less than that. But it also can mean more than that, and (in my experience) it usually does. Something different for everyone.
Being "open to life" in the specific, ordinary way is sometimes, well, terrifying. A few elite souls may get off lucky, and traipse through the fertile years exulting about the joy of just letting things happen as they will.
For most of us, though, I'll bet -- sooner or later comes an encounter where -- forget "lie back and think of England" -- you'll be lucky not to be thinking (as your newborn sleeps not far away) of that one friend you have who has two babies eleven months apart. Or of the tone in the doctor's voice when, as you swelled near the end of your last pregnancy, she described the stress that another one could put on your circulatory system. Or of that last, terrible grief that you don't think you can face again.
We have our own version of morning-after regrets, too. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but probably we should have waited another day. I'll try not to think about it for, er, ten days or so.
+ + +
And what is it all? Acts, and consequences, sometimes sad, sometimes joyful. Something that we cannot control -- no, that's not quite right -- something we deliberately choose not to pretend we can control.
Life, in other words. All of it.
(This doesn't mean we can say "we are open to life" and still leave room for the sterilizing, you understand, in the guise of being generally open to the different things life can throw at us. It just means that Monica is right, we can apply what we've learned.)
We can be properly terrified about everything! Not just getting pregnant.
OK, I didn't mean that.
No, actually, I did. I did mean that.
We can have the healthy fear -- the awe -- that inhabits the knowledge that our lives have meaning -- all the time -- whether we want them to or not.
But we can also acknowledge that our control of the situation is limited. And that the people under our care and surrounding us are individuals with their own right to be regarded as full human beings, independent of their utility or of their demands. And we can choose every day to treat them as such, and to be thankful for what they bring us.
Love. It's risky. It's terrifying. It's ... what we do.
(edited to fix missing "do not")