When I was in college, I defined being pro-life as “protecting all life from conception to natural death.” I still very much believe in that definition, but as a mother now, I would like to propose a new depth to the term being pro-life.
We recently had our fifth child and were overwhelmed with the amount of help we received. My husband’s company gives him two weeks of (paid!) paternity leave, something that is unheard of at most companies in the US. When he went back to work, my sweet (and very brave) mother-in-law moved in with us for two weeks. Throughout this period, and for about six weeks all-together, we had people bringing us meals every other day. It was amazing. I was able to actually recover from giving birth, reveling in the luxury of being able to sleep in for a bit in the morning after being up throughout the night. My parents took a kid (or two or three) on weekends to help us get caught up from the chaos of the week.
Shortly before our son was born, a friend posted a post on facebook about her husband and his friend helping out another friend. “Sally” and “Bill” were having their fifth baby. Bill is in the National Guard, and, as Murphy’s Law would have it, he had spent the week prior to their baby’s birth at a training. They didn’t have any family nearby and needed help with their other four children while they were in the hospital. The icing on the cake is that they were to be moving the following month as well. Can you imagine! My friend, “Lucy,” had schooling commitments, so her husband, “Frank,” volunteered to help with his friend “Fred.” Frank and Fred not only took care of Sally and Bill’s four kids, but they also had their own combined nine kids in tow. Of the 13 kids, 11 of them were six and under. They took care of the kids, cleaned the house, and took care of some home repair that needed to be completed, including a door, a sink, and a bath fan.
Can you even imagine how grateful Sally and Bill must have been when they came home to a clean house, happy kids, and items crossed off of the to-do list? This was posted in a mom’s group that we are both a part of, and the response was immediate. Most ladies were shocked, saying that they couldn’t believe someone would be so kind and take time from their own busy families and schedules to help, particularly dads, as well as how amazingly beautiful and fantastic it was. This is being pro-life.
We are abundantly blessed by both our church community and our homeschool community. I have written before about the support system we have and how it allows us to not only survive our busy life but to (occasionally) thrive as well. Babies are cause for celebration, and no matter what number baby it is, the mother is supported in practical and useful ways.
In the endless hours of newborn nursing, I started pondering how many people have expressed their surprise over hearing about these selfless acts so generously bestowed on our family and new mothers in our communities. It makes me sad that this is not the norm. It is so easy to be vocally pro-life, which is of course important, but it is another thing to live out being pro-life. My husband’s work, without even realizing it, was being pro-life through recognizing the importance of a new mom having the support of her husband in those first exhausting weeks. My mother-in-law was being pro-life by selflessly enduring my tribe for two tiring weeks. All of the families who brought us food, alleviating the chore of figuring out what’s for dinner were being pro-life. These many selfless acts of service and support left me so encouraged, and thinking that it is possible to have a thriving big family in today’s anti-family culture.
Certainly it is not possible for everyone to drop everything to serve new mothers whenever someone has a baby. But if everyone does just one small part, such as bringing a meal or offering to watch siblings for a couple of hours, I truly believe families would feel supported and be more open to having “big” families. Let us all encourage mothers and families in whatever way our own circumstances allow.
photo credit: Man At Work via photopin (license)
Do you remember your middle school or high school reproductive health class? When I think back to my education about periods and “How babies are made” my memories are brief. I can remember short parts of videos or awkward condom demonstrations and disgusting pictures of STDs. Does this sound familiar to you?