I was over a friend’s house picking up a buddy of mine this past weekend. He wasn’t ready so I ended up hanging out for a few minutes with his wife and her friend. I’d met the other woman before but don’t know her all that well. She was talking a mile a minute about how “natural” she lives and how great she feels. Of course, she was telling us that we should be living the same way. She lectured me about different herbs and how she’s detoxing her body.
She’s been “living naturally” since New Year’s Day. (Her words)
She said she feels so much better (“fantabulous!!!” was her word) and she’s been doing a lot of reading about all the “unnatural” chemicals people put in their bodies and how harmful it all is.
My buddy came into the room and rolled his eyes but I didn’t know her well enough to joke about it since she seemed to take it all very seriously so I listened to her. Actually, I kind of pretended to listen by just nodding my head and occasionally grunting.
In the conversation my buddy joked about me “detoxing” my five children.
“What?!” gasped the woman. “Really? You really have five kids?”
One of the funny things about writing a Catholic blog is you sometimes forget that having five kids is a lot. But around the Catholic blogosphere I read about so many people who have that many children and many more that I forget how countercultural it is to have more than two children.
Then she asked me if I was crazy?
I responded I was. (I mean, how else do you respond to that?)
“My gosh,” she said, slowing herself down for a moment. “I couldn’t even imagine. One’s enough for me. I’m not having anymore. My husband wants more but thank God for the Pill.”
Ms. Natural Living is on the Pill?
I couldn’t hold me tongue so I just threw it out there. “How does all this natural living coincide with all the chemicals you’re putting in your body from the Pill?”
And then she said that she needs to be on the Pill because it allows her to live naturally. If she had more children then she wouldn’t have the time to live the way she wanted to live, she said.
I held my tongue after that. Remember, I was the crazy one.
Erin Manning wrote:
What a horrific lie it is, to convince millions upon millions of healthy woman that their bodies’ natural fertility is a terrible disease for which a decades-long prescription to a drug engineered to fight against it is not only necessary, but imperative!
It is rather an oddity that with all this focus on natural foods that many women still don’t consider birth control in the same manner.
January 27, 2010 at 5:45 pm
Sara 11:52– the Couple to Couple league has some articles on using breastfeeding to space pregnancies (baby in bed, no pacifiers, nurse on demand, etc. etc.) Breastfeeding spaces our kids about 2 years apart, no NFP involved! But it depends on your own body, so you'll want to wait and see.
January 27, 2010 at 6:09 pm
Oh, I just love it. When my husband announced our 6th was on the way, he actually got sticky notes posted on his computer in his office by "concerned" co-workers. These idiots we can tolerate. It's our "concerned" family members that take the cake. My comment these days–"Someone has to pay your Social Security."
January 27, 2010 at 6:35 pm
Sarah-Kala has it right. The unthinking acceptance of the Pill (and other hormonal contraception) would be funny if it were not so sad, and if it did not have such far-reaching effects on all of women's "healthcare". Have rough periods, irregular cycles, endometriosis, or acne? Take the Pill. You're off the Pill now and can't have a baby? Well we have an alphabet soup of treatments for that: IUI, IVF, DI, DOST, GIFT, ICSI… Oh, and you just want to help your body work the way God intended? Sorry, there's no pill for that.
I am really hopeful that some day the natural living movement will make it's way into mainstream women's health treatment. It's very odd indeed that "natural" or "green" living has taken on these elitist connotations. Many people, myself included, find our way into more natural living when it comes to nutrition because NFP has brought us there.
The fact is that many foods these days are manufactured with as little regard for preserving fertility as the Pill. And the foods coming from a lot of industrial farms have been emptied of the most important vitamin and nutrient content necessary for sustaining fertility. Marilyn Shannon's "Fertility, Cycles and Nutrition" is a necessary read for any woman using NFP, and is written from a reasonable, Catholic perspective. It's available through the CCLI (or Amazon). It would really be the best answer for Matthew's lady-friend, though I'm not sure it would be well-received…
January 27, 2010 at 7:07 pm
For the "Don't you know what causes that?" I have a standard response;"Of course, why do you think we have so many?"
My wife's response is "No, would you care to explain it for me?"
Dan, patriarch and father of 11.
January 27, 2010 at 7:17 pm
Being on the pill allows her to live naturally? How does having kids suddenly stop you from living naturally?
Some of the most naturally living people I know are Catholics who also practice NFP and have several kids. In fact, it was by their example that I started considering eating more all natural/organic/healthy foods and also started charting based on their recommendations.
I had a doctor try to put me on the pill for an irregular period, instead I learned how my body works, started charting, diagnosed the problem and altered my diet & supplements to fix it without the unhealthy side effects of the pill. Nothing beats that for being natural and having kids would not have effected the results.
Side note, I feel like I'm the only single person in the world using NFP…with abstinence all the time of course ;).
January 27, 2010 at 7:19 pm
I second Shannon's book, I couldn't remember which one I'd read. It's helped me so much and I'm not even trying to be fertile. It was what gave me the tools to diagnose my irregularities and ideas for how to help fix it.
January 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm
Betcha anything that she thinks this "detox" helps prevent cancer….
January 27, 2010 at 8:25 pm
"Don't you know how that happens?"
"Of course. We're just better at it than most people." 🙂
Re. breastfeeding– lovely in theory, not always true in practice. Some of us are just Fertile Myrtles, even when exclusively, "ecologically" breastfeeding. It's okay, though. Fertility returns, one or two long, confusing cycles, and then back to normal.
January 27, 2010 at 9:59 pm
As the youngest of sixteen children (yes, same parents all) I, too, have heard my share of insults, jokes and unbelievably dumb questions. As a 43 year old mother of three who is not able to have more at this late stage I have a pretty good perspective of how the differences play out and I encourage everyone who can to continue to have as many babies as their families can support.
When weighing the pros and cons on the issues that really matter, all the advantages are to the larger families except bathroom time (of course the home we grew up in was older and had only 1 and a half baths).
Holidays were a blast when we were little but now, with families of our own they are huge events and something to be experienced because they are like nothing else.
There is always someone to help when it is needed, so many different talents. Always a lap to sit on or a shoulder to cry on. Some one to play a game with or, when your older, to go out for a beer with. Boredom is not an option. Plus, you learn to stick up for yourself and others, too.
And when mom and dad get older and need care, many helping hands make the burden light — no one feels taken advantage of.
We, my husband and I, witness to our selfishness to our children all the time now and they all hope they will be blessed with a least a half-dozen. Pray they succeed, I do.
January 28, 2010 at 12:26 am
So you know, in reading these comments, I've just decided something. When and if God allows us the privilege of bearing our fifth child, I think my husband and I should play dumb. That's right, clam up and not make any announcements. Then when I start to show (which happens earlier and earlier with each pregnancy) I can just play dumb still. Hey, what's the worst that could happen? At least then I can outwardly guffaw in the faces of those who would otherwise "pity" me! hehehehe
Can't wait…Honey…Where are you??? Hehehehe
January 28, 2010 at 2:21 am
whatever one's beliefs/"lifestyle"/religion etc are why would ANYONE who hears the television commercial for "the pill" even consider it when it clearly states the side effects (in their words) as being "stroke, heart-attack, or even DEATH"???
I had my first child 3 weeks shy of my 42nd bday. please remember Catholic families come in all sizes, even though we are open to more.
January 28, 2010 at 3:13 am
When I see a family with, say, eight kids, I'll say to one of the younger ones, "What? Only eight? Why, if you had nine, you could be a baseball team!" And I try to look real serious, and they wonder if I'm pulling their leg, then they look to Mom or Dad — who are relieved by this time.
Regardless of the issue of birth control versus NFP, I can't imagine the number of kids a family has being anybody's damn business other than their own.
Besides, it's more fun to just mess with their heads.
January 28, 2010 at 5:18 pm
Thank you for the reminder that Catholic families come in all sizes, even small ones. From time to time I find myself *gasp* judging (I'm ashamed to admit) families at Mass with only one or two children (older children where it's apparent that the parents are done making more). I know this is terribly wrong of me, as a small number of offspring does not automatically equate with contraceptive practices. And I should know better, since I currently only have two living children myself.
So, consider me contrite. God's still working on me.
January 29, 2010 at 10:03 pm
Saw a button that I posted on my FB:
Yes, we have a lot of kids,
Yes, we know what causes it, and
Yes, we'll have lots of company in
the nursing home while you sit alone
and miss your big boat!
January 31, 2010 at 6:23 am
Laughing out loud, because I have had this conversation so many, many, many times. But perhaps not so hilariously as this.