Fonticulus Fides

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Sharing in the eternal struggle? Or just fooling myself?

Confession time (don’t worry, it’s not a mortal sin). One of the reasons I have blogged so little lately is because I’ve been in a couple of ongoing discussions on the boards over at Beliefnet. It’s been a little draining, and I haven’t had many “words” left for my blog. Which is silly, really, because I have more control over what I can say on my own blog!

Anyhoo, the first discussion was on the validity of Human Vitae, which was started by a retired lawyer who is an agnostic moral relativist. His interesting question revolved around the fact that Human Vitae was directed not solely to Catholics (though it was written by Pope Paul VI), but to “all men of good will.” Since he considers himself a “man of good will,” he has sought to study HV and he finds it lacking, particularly in the condemnation of artificial birth control.

I knew I would be hamstrung before I got into it. He’s agnostic, so I was not allowed to use any mention of Scriptures, the Catechism, Sacred Tradition, etc., to support any of my arguments. He’s a moral relativist, so he keeps moving the line that defines “natural law.” He considers himself a pro-feminist man, but arguments about hormonal birth control puts all the risk and responsibility on the woman were pooh-poohed as irrelevant “because women want the responsibility.” The issue of sex being sacramental makes no sense to him, and he fairly bristles at the notion that sex should not be taken on demand by two consenting adults.

So, I’ve been wracking my heavily taxed brain on this issue for some time, but then my counterpart went on vacation for ten days. Another Catholic on the board posted an article about how the birth control pill is really good for women – she’s pro-ABC, btw – and since she posted it on the Catholic Debate board, I figured she was inviting debate, so I posted the opposite view, linking to a few web sites that supported my claim. Now I’ve got five or six pro-ABC women and the agnostic moral relativist (he’s back) all chomping at me on the thread. Which – I know, I know -- is on a debate board, so that’s to be expected.

I see that Alicia has had a bit of a tussle on this issue recently herself.

I don’t know about any of you, but every time I get into an NFP vs. ABC debate, it’s all but pointless. So many NFP educators promote NFP as being “just as effective as the Pill” that your average person can’t see much of a difference between NFP and ABC. Yes, I know about the difference between actively thwarting pregnancy (ABC) and passively thwarting pregnancy through periodic abstinence (which an NFP couple may be choosing to do). And you only have to practice NFP for a few months to really get an idea of how big of a difference it is.

But if you take your average American – most of whom are not educated in NFP and haven’t a clue how it feels to use it – you’re going to get a blank stare on that argument. After all, the motivation is the same, and so is the outcome.

And frankly, I think they’re right on that point. When you read the official Catholic position on this (and I say “official” because I know there are renegade theologians out there saying something different), pregnancy is only supposed to be delayed/avoided for “grave reasons.” The definition of “grave” is loose, but any sensible person ought to realize it means something serious, like another baby would mean bankruptcy or great physical harm to the mother, or the mom still hasn’t had the 9 months minimum to recover from the last birth yet or something like that. “I just can’t handle diapers again…” or “I don’t have enough time for myself as it is” probably doesn’t count. Because when you get right down to it, we’re supposed to want to have lots of babies, if only to populate the earth and heaven with saints.

Think about that for a minute – wouldn’t the world be a terrific place if there were even one living saint to every 100 regular people?

The other thing about the “grave reasons” issue – I think the right attitude about those “grave reasons” is you’re supposed to be working to make them go away, so that you can have another baby. As Catholics with “one eye on heaven,” I don’t think we’re ever supposed to have an attitude of “Yippee! We can have sex without having a baby!” – because that’s the sentiment that lead to the development of ABC to begin with. And it ignores God’s desire to have as many of us as He possibly can in Heaven with Him someday. Rather, we should feel regret: “It’s sad that we can’t have a baby right now. What can we do to change that in the near future?”

As long as I’m in a confessional mode, though, I have to admit, there are times I dearly wish I could chuck HV and all its “high-fallutin’” ideals and just be an average American again, ABC and all. I find myself altogether too grateful to have some of those “grave reasons,” including the money thing and needing more time to recover since Lola was born (she’s 9.5 months, but I’ve had trouble bouncing back -- still some pain when I walk).

Some days, I start to panic a little when I think about what will happen when our “grave reasons” go away. I’m already 40. Will I be able to handle having another baby at 42? 43? Or two or three more before my child-bearing potential ends for good? I want to call out to God and say, “Please don’t make me do it again!” I love my kids, and I had good birth experiences with the first two, but I haven’t felt “right” since Lola was born, and I just can’t imagine that I would be able to handle the whole thing one more time, let alone two.

There’s no point in trying to hide these thoughts from the Lord. He knows I feel that way. And He knows that sometimes I’m sorry for those feelings…and other times, I’m not. All I can do is keep my actions correct and try to grow spiritually so that my mind and my heart catch up.

But what’s really frustrating to me about these conversations with other Catholics who are pro-ABC is that living the Catholic way – with NFP – is a sacrifice and sometimes a great burden, and the ABC people seem to think I’m a dork for taking it on when ABC is so readily available and “Most Catholics use ABC,” as they are fond of reminding me. Some even have the gall to recommend that I get my husband “fixed.” Like a dog. I love this man too much to ever treat him and his fertility so disrespectfully.

We are called in Scriptures to help shoulder each other’s burdens, but most NFP-using couples feel like they have no support at all. Cripes, I’m even scared to bring up the topic in person. People don’t like to have their issues brought out into the daylight. And it’s not like you can broach the topic without tottering on the threshold of private bedroom details.

I do think a lot of NFP people have done a disservice by promoting NFP as “a Catholic birth control system.” That’s not what NFP should be. NFP provides very useful data for a wide variety of issues. If a woman is prone to PMS or difficult periods, NFP could help her find a solution. NFP can be used to conceive as well as delay pregnancy. I’ve read that it has even helped women see a change that alerted their doctor to a serious health issue. That’s what I wish NFPers would focus on – the health benefits to women. Not a contraceptive mentality.

Finally, let us not forget that we probably can all help families live according to HV in a variety of ways. As I was working on cleaning and organizing our basement (I’m about 2/3 done!), I packed up a carton of serviceable, unstained 0-3 and 3-6 month sleepers, receiving blankets and other clothes. And we just moved Lola up to a rear-facing convertible car seat, so I’ve got her infant seat, which we bought new in January. Plus the portable bassinette. I’m thinking about taking all this stuff to the Crisis Pregnancy Center or Catholic Social Services. I know that there might be a woman out there who thinks she can’t have a baby because she can’t afford this stuff, and my donation might make the difference for her.

If I can’t populate heaven through my own womb right now, at least I can help another woman out, right? And if God wants us to have another baby, I know He will provide for us, so maybe I don’t have to keep it unused in my basement for another year. I’m thinking about it, and asking the Lord to guide me to make the right decision. Best I can do in my far-less-than-perfect way.

If you’ve read this whole diatribe, you deserve a prize!


Sunday, October 24, 2004


To my husband's grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. T, who are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary today. That's right -- sixty years! Not many people enjoy that privilege. His parents are also celebrating a wedding anniversary today, 39 years.

Sorry to have been quiet, but I haven't had anything remarkable to say. Or at least, nothing remarkable except for one thing, which I cannot post without insulting somebody, so I am refraining in the interests of trying not to be judgemental. My tongue's a little sore from biting, but I'll be fine.

Zooey brought home his first report card on Friday. I was really nervous -- I was always getting low marks in deportment, so I was just praying that Zooey hasn't turned out to be the discipline problem I was. Overall, he's doing "satisfactory" with a couple bright shining "doing well" marks for art, music, p.e. and religion (thank heavens!!!!). His "needs work" marks were all in handwriting. I blame it on the fact that he was writing lefty all the way up till last summer, then decided on his own to switch and work right-handed. Parent-teacher conference is this coming Friday, so we'll discuss that with the teacher then.

Good grief -- report cards, parent-teacher conferences, PTA meetings! I really am a mom!!!


Saturday, October 16, 2004

Confessions of a Prayer Snob

Good stuff from Amy Welborn on prayer over at

Also, it's the feast day of St. Gerard Majella, the mother's saint. I blogged about why he is so special to me last year.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Dreaded grilled cheese?!?!?

Over at HMS Blog, Matt Watkins is slamming the quintessential Friday Catholic lunch -- grilled cheese.

As a former Wisconsin resident, that got my hackles up. The only way grilled cheese could possibly be "dreaded" would be if it was made with lousy ingredients on a contact griddle that squashed it flat (my mom used to make it on the waffle iron with flat panels to compress the sandwiches beyond salvation). Try it the Wisconsin way, and you'll fall in love with grilled cheese.

Replace your Wonder bread with thick slices of a hearty whole-grain bread, tangy sourdough or rich rye. Replace the American cheese with two slices of Cojack, cheddar, Provelone or swiss. Whatever you do, make sure it's REAL cheese from a deli counter, preferably from Wisconsin (although Vermont cheese is also very good). If the label says "cheese food" instead of "cheese" under the variety name or if it says Kraft anywhere at all, it's not going to taste any better than the plastic it's wrapped in no matter what you do to it.

Be adventuresome and mix the cheeses if you like. A slice of fresh tomato is always a nice touch. Make sure the outside of the bread is well-buttered and your griddle or skillet is nice and warmm (preheat on medium high heat). Lay the sandwich on the pan and grill until it's golden brown on one side. Then carefully flip it over. Some folks cover the pan to ensure a good melt, but I find using room temperature cheese takes care of that problem. When the sandwich is pefectly done on the second side, remove it to a plate and eat it at once. It should be at least an inch and a half thick and not squashed at all. The outside should be crisp and buttery and the inside should be velvety and rich.



As long as I need to lighten up...

I'm going to play the Name Your Three game that MamaT over at Summa Mamas is playing. Here goes:

1. Pet Peeves: People who feign listening, casual use of foul language in public (i.e., not the thing that pops out of your mouth when you stub your toe, but the every-other-word habit), endless voice mail loops when I want to talk to a customer service representative.

2. Favorite sounds: Any of my kids laughing (I make it a point to hear each one of them laugh at least once a day...often means tickling them), my husband's voice, hymns sung at noon Mass on Holy Days in our downtown parish, because it's packed to the rafters with all the downtown workers and everybody sings at the top of their lungs, so that the whole place seems to vibrate with adoration for our Lord.

3. Biggest fears: Angering God, house fires, child molestors.

4. Biggest challenges: Getting everything done in a day, keeping my focus on the Lord instead of on myself, patience.

5. Department stores: I don't have a favorite. I only shop at department stores when its an absolute necessity, or if something is drastically reduced and better fits our budget. I'd rather shop at neighborhood shops and specialty stores.

6. Most used words: actually, I and stop (that last one is the peril of having a toddler in the house).

7. Pizza toppings: fresh tomato, fresh mushrooms (not canned) and spinach. Italian sausage runs a close fourth.

8. Cartoon characters: the Pink Panther (before he started hawking insulation), Foghorn Leghorn (remember him?) and Tweety Bird.

9. Movies recently watched: I can't remember. Um...I'm pretty sure I watched most of The Wizard of Oz with Zooey when it was on TV last November. And I always watch It's a Wonderful Life at least once at Christmas time. I think I might have watched the BBC video of Emma while I was recovering from Lola's birth last January, but I'm not sure I saw the whole thing.

10. Fruits and veggies: strawberries, snow peas and peaches if I had to pick, but honestly, I've never met a fruit I didn't like, and the only veggies I pass on are cauliflower and brussle sprouts.


From today's Liturgy of Hours Morning Prayer

Romans 8:18-21:

The sufferings of the present are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us. Indeed, the whole created world eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God. Creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but by him who once subjected it; yet not without hope, because the world itself will be freed from its slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

A much more elegant and informed way of saying, "Kwitcherbeefin', Sparki!"


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Utterly, utterly marvelous!

Please go read the English translation of the Pope's Apostolic Letter on the Year of the Eucharist. Inspiring. Thought-provoking. Humbling. Stunning.

Thanks to Amy Welborn for the heads up.


Monday, October 11, 2004

Insert cheshire grin here

After reading this medical research report, even our dear Mr. Luse might approve of breastfeeding in public.

The study is a little on the bizarre side. I never would have guessed at these results, though. Not in a million years. And now I have to wonder why women who are opposed to public breastfeeding tend to be more vitriolic than men. Men sort of have a "No thanks, I don't want to see that," attitude about the issue, but women have a "How dare you?!?!?!" vibe.


Birthday Blessings

My dad turns 69 today, and our nephew Chase turned 5 last Saturday. Oh, and I forgot to mention that my brother celebrated his 44th on the second. If you'd be so kind as to pray that each of them would be blessed by God, I'd appreciate it.


Friday, October 08, 2004

A mind is a terrible thing to get wasted...

If you haven't already heard, Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee will be attending the University of Nebraksa-Lincoln as part of an NBC reality show. A friend of mine who works at UNL forwarded me an e-mail from the chancellor, who insists, "The essence of the show is that a rock star, with a questionable past, seeks redemption through higher education...we believe NBC is a responsible network and the show will be responsibly produced."

Hey, how could the network that brought Fear Factor to the airwaves steer us wrong?

The chancellor continues, "We understand the background of Tommy Lee. We do not approve of some of his past conduct. On the other hand, education is one of the ways a person can redeem himself for past mistakes."

Officially, Tommy has agreed to live by the UNL student code of conduct while enrolled at the university. (He's already violated items 4.1.b., c. and f. but we won't quibble.) He'll live off campus and take chemistry, lit and the history of rock and roll (my husband took that class -- loved it. But it was cake.). Rumor has it, Tommy auditioned for the university marching band and hopes to play the quads (four drums strapped to the waist) at the Nebraska vs. Baylor home game in a few weeks.

Some local women's advocacy groups are concerned about the safety of the young, impressionable college girls who will be in classes and extracurriculars with Tommy Lee. He did, after all, do some jail time for kicking his wife around.

My thoughts? Well, I used to teach at this university until Edyn's birth coincided with budget cutbacks that pretty much eliminated the advertising department's adjunct professor program. My husband, his brother and his grandmother are all alumni. I do understand that the university is desperate for money, desperate to wrench itself from the third tier of American institutions of higher education and get some prestige. Somehow, though, I doubt this will do the trick.

Why would a 42-year-old rock star who has spent most of the last two decades damaging ear drums and living a flayboyantly decadent life style suddenly feel the need to get a university degree...from Nebraska? The local university may excel at sports medicine and agricultural research, but we're not exactly the bastion of music, television, or entertainment arts in general. It feels a little too much like that Paris Hilton show.

Tommy says he enrolled at UNL for, "A little music, some education, some partying, the whole college experience."

That's what I was afraid of.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Lost Opportunity

So I was chatting with a casual friend, and we got on the subject of hypocrisy. Then she tells me that a mutual acquaintence, Miss T. is about to get married to Mr. C. Mr. C is Catholic and Miss T is Lutheran, and Mr. C. was seeking the Bishop's approval to marry in Miss T's family church. The priest asked Mr. C for his reasons, then said he'd like to discuss it with Miss T as well. When Miss T called the priest back, he asked a bunch of questions like, "Would your family be angry with you if you married in the Catholic Church?" and such. Miss T said, no, her family is very supportive, and it would be all right, but she'd really like to get married in the church her sister, mother, and grandmother were all married in. Then -- according to my casual friend -- the priest said, "Well, Miss T, I've already written a letter to the Bishop stating that your family would object to a Catholic wedding, so we'll have to go with that." Miss T was indignant -- how could he lie to the Bishop?!?!?

"Isn't that terrible?" my casual friend bemoaned. "A priest lying to his Bishop!" As I nodded, she said something along the lines of how the Catholic Church has too many stupid rules, "like the one about birth control that everybody ignores anyway."

A bit taken aback, I stammered, "Well...not everybody." But I felt completely powerless to state the Church's case on any topic at that point, becuase as far as my casual friend knows, priest make it a habit of lying to the Bishop.

Now, I have to say, I have no way of knowing how accurate this tale is. Maybe Miss T misunderstood. Maybe she didn't. Maybe the priest is morally lazy. I don't know what parish this is or even what Diocese. What can I do? Pretty much nothing.

But the real stinger is the lost opportunity to explain why marriage and marital love is different in the Catholic Church.



Monday, October 04, 2004

I'm the mommy. Having big dreams for my kids is part of the job description.

So Friday, Zooey brings home an "I Spy" book from the school library. He's looking at the pages contentedly, then brings the book to me. "Mom, can we build this?"

"Build what?"

"This balloon popper."

I turn to look at the book, and all I see is a dizzying arrangement of tinker toys, legos, Brio train pieces, and miscellaneous household objects. "How do you know that's a balloon popper?"

"See, you push the pencil here, and that makes the ball go down here, through the cup to this green thing (a chute), and down into the football helmet, which pulls on this thingy (spool+string pulley) and makes the other football helmet go up, and that makes the...." and step by step, he showed me how the structure would work in 3-D. At the very end, I saw a little slate that said "Balloon Popper" so I thought Zooey must have read that and figured out what the structure did. But when I asked him to read the slate, he had to sound it out. If he would have read it before (or if somebody would have read it to him), he wouldn't have forgotten what it said.

So I quizzed him -- who had told him how the structure worked? Zooey looked at me like I was crazy. "My brain," he said. "Can we build it?"

I told him we could someday, when we had all the parts available.

That was Friday. On Saturday, I realized he was adding and subtracting numbers in his head. The kid is five! On Sunday, my husband was trying to get Zooey to get ready for church instead of lollygagging, and Zooey told him, "I was just thinking about science. Motorcycle science." He wants us to build him a motorcycle laboratory so he can invent a toy motorcycle that kids can ride "which goes even faster."

Faster than what? I don't want to know.

So, my husband and I have come to realize that Zooey has probably inherited the engineering gene. Eeek! My brother is an engineer. My dad is an engineer. My husband's brother is an engineer -- not biologically related, since they're adopted, but still, we know how engineers are. All of them are really smart men. And pretty eccentric.

Part of me wants to thank God that my son might actually have a financially sound future. And do wonderful things for people -- my brother is currently designing water purification systems for Iraq, so folks will have clean drinking water all over that war-torn nation. My brother-in-law is working in automobile safety. My dad...well, in his career, he designed some of the first lightweight plastic telephone housing for AT&T so that if your bedside phone rang in the middle of the night, you didn't give yourself a concussion answering it. He also helped computers get smaller so they will fit on your desk instead of taking up a warehouse. And he fixed the condiment delivery system for McDonald's so that when the overly anxious first-day-on-the-job teen employee squirted ketchup and mustard on your burger, the portion would still be acceptably modest and the condiment "gun" wouldn't backfire into his/her face. Those are all great things to do, and we need the eccentric engineering types who get mesmerized by mechanics to figure them out for us.

Another part of me is thinking, maybe this kid can be balancing our checkbook, fixing our plumbing and changing the oil on our van by the time he's 12 or 13. Hey, I have no qualms that my kid is probably going to be a lot smarter than I am. Good for him.

But I must confess, a big part of me is ruefully wondering why I can't have a normal kid who just wants to be in a rock band or become an Oscar-winning actor or create a new form of modern art or win Pulitzer Prize or even just excel as a chef in a four-star restaurant. And then I slap myself on the forehead and say, "Sparki, you doofus, none of those are 'normal' jobs! Let him be an engineer, if that's what he wants."

I think there was a Saturday Night Live episode like this, wasn't there? The guy comes home and tells his parents he wants to be an accountant or construction worker or something, and they wonder where they've gone wrong that he can't write poetry like his old man.

Huh. It's not every day that you get to live in a sit-com.


Saturday, October 02, 2004

Prayers answered...

Not too long ago, I posted a gruesomely long list of needs for my family and myself. I haven't been terribly diligent about praying for these things -- I need to get over my shame in asking God to provide what we've been unable to provide through our own means.

Well, some progress has been made. I got paid for the magazine I edited earlier than expected, and so we had the money for me to start the dental work (one visit down, two to go...but I may try to find a different dentist because I really don't like this one's methods. He's nice. Just a little rough.) I found two pairs of school pants for Zooey at a thrift store -- they were a third the price of new Old Navy pants. Also found snow boots for Edyn that looked like they were never worn even once. We're buying a new carseat for Laurel tomorrow -- could have last week, but I was hoping they'd go on sale. If they don't go on sale tomorrow, we'll just go ahead and pay full price.

Plus, my wonderful husband got his cousin to come over and babysit the children and dragged me off to Eddie Bauer to buy some new clothes for myself. What a splurge! I felt really bad about it, but he pointed out that if I'm going to be getting freelance gigs, I'm probably going to have some business meetings, so I'll need to replace at least a few items. He's better at judging hipness of clothes, and I'm better at judging fabric and stitching, so we make a good team working together. I can't believe everything I got -- A pair of jeans, a plum-colored shirt with varigated pink and khaki stripes, a denim shirt, and a ridiculously long and comfortable corduroy skirt in a warm light brown color they call "peanut". Now I can go to church and meetings to earn some freelance work considerably less ashamed of my appearance.

My father-in-law was here yesterday surveying the basement situation, and he thinks bolstering it with some pressure-treated lumber will buy us some time. We'll take it -- we can't afford a whole new foundation right now. I have a pleasant little daydream of winning a new foundation in some sweepstakes, but you know, foundations are rarely given away like that. We'll just have to get the freelance jobs that can help pay for it. Next spring.

Temperature was down to 27 last night, and our furnace actually kicked on, which was nice. It's completely unreliable though. We'll need a new one eventually, but if God can keep this one working through the next six months, I'll be happy. And my kids will be warm.

Speaking of warm, I have to get the clothes boxes out of the basement and transfer the kids' clothing from warm-weather shorts and tees to cold-weather jeans and long-sleeve shirts and sweaters. I'm immensely thankful for the "hand-me-down pipelines" I'm part of. I have two reliable sources for girl clothing and two occasional sources for the baby (from people who understand that Edyn's thinks are still off-season for Laurel, since they are 18 months apart). Boy stuff I have to thrift for, since everybody I know with boys has one Zooey's age or younger. I pass his stuff along when I can.

We filed another extension for our 2003 taxes, but we have the money now. We just have to gather everything together and get it over to the guy who does our taxes for us (two freelance incomes on top of regular salary make for a tax headache!)

So, thanks be to God for His generosity. Thanks to all the saints who prayed for us, and thanks to all of you who did the same.


Friday, October 01, 2004

Lesson of the Week

So on Tuesday, my husband was home with the kids and I had a whole hour and fifteen minutes to myself. I went to a thrift store and found a few items for Zooey (two school shirts, a Batman shirt), a dress for Edyn to wear next summer and a few things for the preschool room at school. Then I went to the library and perused the grown-up section, checking out books for grown-ups! It had been a long, long time since I had that privilege.

Well, a few of the books I wanted were out, so on impulse, I subbed with 30 Days to a Simpler Life by Connie Cox and Cris Evatt. Now, I’ve always been a bit of a simple-life kind of person, but I’m also a “Messie” and with three kids, a small house, and more tasks than time, I figured I needed a little help. I chose this book because they had a daily task that is meant to take an hour or less, plus tips for the “serious simplifier.” I figured I read it all the way through once, then start the daily tasks.

Day one was fill up a shopping bag with stuff you no longer love and use and donate it to charity. Easy enough. I try to do that once a month anyway. Day two, dejunk a drawer. I’d been doing that once a week all month, so I was way ahead (still had three more drawers to go, though). So far, so good.

Day three, think before you buy. Already do that, so I guess I’ll dejunk another drawer. Day four, create a serene bedroom. Don’t worry, they provide tips like “limit yourself to two sets of sheets per bed.” That threw me. I thought two sets per bed were practically a luxury, since I grew up with only one set. But I want to keep two, because it makes laundry more flexible. Well, there are plenty of other things I should do, like empty my dresser of threadbare t-shirts and solo socks.

Day five, organize your closet. I think that will take ALL of day five, but I can at least start it. Day six, dress with less. Day seven, transform the bathroom. Day eight, streamline your kitchen. All good stuff. Really starting to think in terms of WEEK five, week six, etc., but hey, one thing at a time.

Then I get to day 9, which is “Fix quick and healthy meals.” Now I realize I’m dealing with at least one hard-core new-ager. Raw foods, vegan diet. And that’s fine. I can adjust the theory a bit. I like raw foods and serve them often, but a little warm baked something is comforting, and I’m always carnivorous when I’m nursing a baby (or pregnant, but only the first for now).

Days 10-17 are all about organizing and saying no and all that. There’s a few more new age things popping up, but I just edit them mentally and come up with an appropriate substitute.

Then I get to day 18, “Go for financial freedom.” I sit up a little straighter and read more eagerly. This is a top priority for us. Should get some good stuff here, right?


Raising Kids Costs More Than a Ferrari

Children bring a lot of laughter and love to life. They also bring worry, fatigue and expense. When you think about having children, consider the cost in blood, sweat, tears and dollars.

Having children is no longer a financial benefit. We do not need them to work on the farm. Today, becoming a parent is optional. To learn about life without children, subscribe to this newsletter…

Somehow, I think their editor made them add all the words in between “bring” and “worry.”

While I agree that couples should do what they can to plan the arrival of children in accordance with their finances to a certain extent, I don’t think it’s wise to place a “dollar value” on a child like this. First of all, I’m raising all three of my kids for a sum total that is considerably less than one Ferrari. I don’t skimp on fresh healthy food and good car seats, but I thrift for clothing, buy bedding on sale, give them experiences instead of toys, barter for music lessons or other amenities, and encourage brain development so they’ll all be smart enough to get college scholarships. We live in a modest home, drive a modest vehicle and don’t go on expensive vacations or eat out much.

The “Having children is no longer a financial benefit” think is so nonsensical for me, I don’t know where to begin. “We do not need them to work on a farm” makes me stutter with indignation. My father-in-law lives on his family farm. That farm’s been in his family for over 100 years, and it’s still a source of income for him. But he wasn’t born to be a farm slave of some sort. His parents had children because they wanted to participate with God in the act of creation. Did his family “need” him to work? Sure, same way every family needs to pull together to keep the home running.

Is becoming a parent optional? I don’t think so. But then, I’m Catholic. To me, when God says, “And the two shall become one…” I’m thinking that’s best done when husband and wife come together and make a baby. Two individual humans, each offering DNA in an act of love that results in another completely unique human. It’s part of marriage to have children.

I’ve been in a month-long discussion with a guy on the Internet who thinks Human Vitae is a joke and that the Church should allow everybody to use artificial birth control. When I said that this would put the conjugal love aspect of sex on a higher plain that the procreative nature of sex, he responded, “So?” He just doesn’t get it.

Our society has deteriorated to the point where sex is for pleasure – and typically personal pleasure, not self-sacrificing pleasure. Artificial birth control has made that possible. It’s made childless marriage possible. And so it’s changed the idea of marriage – doesn’t have to be between a man and a woman if there doesn’t need to be any offspring.

But this is what “marriage” means – the marriage of two bloodlines to form a new family.

I’m not going to finish the book. And I’m not going to follow their program. There are other books out there that suit my Catholic philosophy better.