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02 December 2009

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MrsDarwin

I remember that post and set of comments -- pretty virulent! It's that kind of response that makes one wary of honest posting about family planning and NFP, and that's too bad because those are the discussions that really need to be had. There's this "happy face" one feels obligated to present to the world, but among fellow orthodox Catholics, one feels some things ought to be understood. The disclaimer was my attempt at staving off the kind of painful comments you received, because although I think all my readers are sympathetic, I just don't know. And it's really too frustrating to bare one's soul and then have to reiterate the fundamentals over and over again.

Anyway, thanks for the good wishes and the support!

RecollectedStephanie

I'm really sorry that happened to you - and my sympathy comes from my own finding myself in such a situation repeatedly in my life. I'm devastatingly honest, and the response is bafflingly judgmental. Few things are more painful.

But here's what I think. I think that What Peter says about Paul says more about Peter than it says about Paul. The people who seem to have answered the questions you are asking would not be nearly so fiercely defensive about their positions if they were at peace about it.

They're still defending territory somehow - and your questions feel threatening to their borders - perhaps because their borders were hard won, perhaps because there is ambivalence, perhaps because they never asked the questions in the first place. Whatever it is, it needn't disturb you over much because that much reaction to your own questions and honesty is never about you.

And the only way to avoid it is to keep your personal deliberations to yourself - which would result in less encouragement for the (more likely silent) people you're helping by being so open, clear, and analytically articulate. (Oh - and one more thing. There are a lot of people who think that being articulate is being arrogant. It is not. But there will always be those who react to it that way.)

bearing

MrsD, thanks for the comment. It's pretty clear that part of the problem is that reading a single post out of context of the entire blog can be misleading, a lesson for all of us to remember when we comment on blog posts where we don't frequently read. Not to mention that sometimes the "God part" of the thought remains interior because it's harder to articulate than simpler and practical questions.

RecollectedStephanie, that is a very kind posts. Thanks (I still feel yucky about having bothered people so much, even if I know I was trying to emphasize something else.)

I've had a post percolating in my head for some time in which I express that I like having my kids 3 years apart, in part because I like the way I structure my homeschooling. I've been rather afraid to even try broaching the topic, lest I be accused of bad-mouthing both closely spaced families AND different homeschooling styles!

Kelly

I resent that bashing of the comment thread, saying Maybe it was the fact that putatively religious people can discuss decisions about having children without one reference to prayerful discernment. because I did mention prayerful discernment, saying " Just remember to be discerning prayerfully, and keep an open heart." :P

I had no idea it set off such a firestorm, though. Your post, I mean, not my comment.

Jamie

I think part of the issue was that Arwen started out as an infertility blogger and many of her readers are infertility veterans or sufferers. (Not trying to excuse their unpleasantness.)

bearing

Jamie, I did figure that out, and so I can understand frustration with people who worry about having more children than they can handle (in a particular time period, or in general).

I think it is very hard to draw a clear line between (1) encouraging people to have faith that, should their situation become more "unplanned", they'd be able to handle it with God's help and (2) dismissing people's own prudential estimates of their own abilities.

Providence vs. prudence rearing its ugly head.

Arwen's blog (which I like very much) is not the only place it got picked up, but that was the only one I could remember and find. I had thought it got some discussion at Danielle Bean's, but I'm not sure.

Amy F

Aww, that's the entry where I found your blog :)

I think it's a little creepy that I wrote, almost three years ago, that I was dreaming of having #3 during the summer of 2010 and I just learned I am due with #3 in August. Instead of having 3 months home with my teacher-husband, he is supposed to be back in prep day about a week after my due date and I tend to go a week overdue. After having two immediate conceptions, it took 7 cycles of being open to pregnancy this time, and I'm relieved to NOT have been in control for a change. It felt weird thinking that I could choose essentially choose a due date by conceiving so easily.

It was a relief to read that post of yours -- there aren't too many people that fall into the catagory of easily-conceiving-NFP-using-Catholics that blog openly about spacing and at the time, I had a 2.5 year old who tormented his 11 month old brother and the idea of conceiving again was pretty scary.

Jamie

Oh, wasn't that during the whole Danielle Bean/Greg Popczak disagreement over AP?

It is so easy for comments to turn uncharitable when a blog links to a post written by someone its readers aren't familiar with. Recently another blog linked to my post that mentioned Melissa Wiley, and the commenters there were in a hurry to grouse about Lissa. One of them said that if she laughed when her children made messes, it must mean she had a maid. ...Or maybe it just means she's a person who laughs easily?

MrsDarwin

Bearing, I look forward to your post about spacing and homeschooling, even though through having much more closely spaced children I find myself tending toward a much more... almost unschooling approach, though I hate that term. And it goes to show that one never knows what the future will hold -- I'd originally thought that I'd be a very structured homeschooler, but whenever I try to put myself and my kids into that situation, it really rubs against our family style. You've found a homeschooling style that really works for your family, and that's the most important thing.

Arwen

Erin, I meant to send you an email after the comments on that post, and I just dropped the ball. Now I know that you remember it, I wish I had! I felt awful about that comment especially.

I think Stephanie is right on with her Peter-Paul insight - the woman who left the original comment which you quoted doesn't appear to read my blog any more, but when she did she was a frequent and highly critical commenter. She once compared my not seeking infertility treatment to declining treatment for breast cancer. She got seriously defensive when I criticized the cry-it-out method. She called me irresponsible and a bad Catholic when I cited Thomas Aquinas's (and incidentally, the Catholic Church's) theology of suffering. Even my posts about my personal spiritual journey often offended her in some way.

All this to say: take her criticism of you with a grain of salt. I happen to know she has a LOT of baggage and her comment was really about her life, not about yours.

And hey, thanks for saying you like my blog! Likewise. :)

bearing

Thanks Arwen :-)

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