So according to Pope Francis, being a good Catholic does not mean people should breed like rabbits. What does it mean and why should I care?
I have four children – lots more than my mother, lots more than my grandmother, lots more than my friends. In fact, I don’t know anyone who has four or more children. Typically it’s expensive and moderately crazy to have more than two children, but I decided decades ago that child-bearing was my thing and that child-rearing was something – finally – that I was good at.
And I’m Catholic. I know that contraception is not something the Church can accept and, remarkably, I also understand why. But this is where we part ways, dear Pope whom I admire, dear Pontiff I have come to love: you can’t tell me how to breed.
When I started college, back in the 1960s, the Pill was brand new and the ways it would impact my future and the future of all of my friends were still coming into focus. I only knew one girl who had a prescription. She was a hooker. She financed her education by turning tricks and at the end of the day, it mattered little to me how she met her bills, only that she was in school and like me, interested in an education in an era that was less than friendly toward female degree-seeking students.
A girl that started at the University of Michigan with me was shut out of the architecture school she so desperately wanted into because, they told her, she’d just go get married anyway and her education and their time teaching her would be wasted. True story. Yet we soldiered on, getting degrees, delaying marriage, delaying childbirth, and half of us got divorced.
But when I decided to have my own children back in 1985, there was no force on earth strong enough to stop me from going down that path. I was lucky to be able to carry my children with next to no medical intervention, opting for natural childbirth, shunning drugs, speedy recovery. I wasn’t out of the hospital with my daughter before I started planning my second pregnancy. Like a rabbit.
I realize the Pope – who I admire, who I love – has backtracked a bit from this comment since it was made, but still, I worry that people listen to him in an area of our lives that must remain within our lives, not dictated or directed by anyone in the church, in Washington, on television, in the movies. There is no more personal decision than to have and to raise children and if you think for a minute that anyone can help you make that decision or stop you from making it, you are so wrong.
Nobody can tell me that I must or must not have children – especially since I am so damn good at it. Please sit down, Pope Francis whom I admire, whom I love, and listen carefully to me: women are abused and neglected and raped and killed during pregnancy. They suffer inhumane treatment in many, many places even now when good medical care is so prevalent. So, please do not begin this discussion because I won’t let up on it. Not now, not ever.
I am a mother to four smart, beautiful, and important children. And I don’t like being called a rabbit.