Those Accusations of Hypocrisy

Don’t you just love this?

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Or this?

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Or this?

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If you’re pro-choice you probably love them because they get a bunch of likes and shares and  people condescendingly (and metaphorically) shouting  about “hypocrites” and “pro-birth” and “I don’t see them lining up to adopt kids” and whatnot.

If you’re pro-life you probably love them because you know they can be deconstructed and debunked fairly easily. You just have to stop beating your head against your keyboard. Seriously, stop that now.

The message boils down to this: If you care about unborn babies but not about women/refugees/foster children/fill-in-the-blank then you’re a hypocrite/not pro-life/not sincere.

Logical fallacies can be fun. Let’s try a few:

If you say you care about fine arts in school and do a fundraiser for the drama program but not the band then you’re a hypocrite.

If you say you hate cancer and you walk to raise funds for breast cancer research but not colon cancer reasearch then you should just keep quiet. Hypocrite.

If you say you’re against animal cruelty but haven’t adopted at least 11 dogs from your local shelter –  from EACH local shelter -then you don’t REALLY care about dogs. And don’t even get me started on cats. Hypocrite.

If you want to help refugees, then you must not care about veterans.

If you are against The Wall but don’t foster children, then you can’t pretend you care about people.

Fun, see?

But let’s get back to this topic:

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I can play, too:

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Or we could try logic and conversation.

First of all, these superclever pro-choice arguments are just not true.

I am pro-life and I support feeding the hungry, helping refugees, supporting foster and adoptive families, and assisting mothers facing unplanned pregnancies. I regularly take actual practical steps (i.e. steps beyond social media rants) to help all of these causes.

Other pro-life people I know help too. Maybe not in the same way you would, and that’s okay. Maybe they don’t take food-drive donation selfies to put on Facebook. They’re probably not allowed to share pictures of their foster children. But in my personal experience, most care about women (most ARE women), about children even after they are born, and about humans in general.

And beyond my personal experience?

Well, the Catholic Church is consistently and unequivocably pro-life.  Catholic Charities  ranks in the top 5 charities in the US. And that’s only one of many Catholic aid organizations. And that’s only in the US. And that’s only from what can be measured, as each diocese has different organizations and some aren’t even clearly identified as Catholic. Four billion dollars a year in aid is a conservative estimate. And that’s only the Catholic church and doesn’t take into consideration the aid provided by other Christian churches throughout the country.

Pro-life pregnancy centers exist for the very purpose of helping women facing unplanned pregnancies. That’s basically their raison d’être, to help women in a variety of ways so that they stop thinking abortion is their only optionAnd what’s more, they don’t receive government funding (ahem), which means they are put together and run by a bunch of pro-life people who volunteer time or financial resources to run them. People who care.

Families waiting to adopt currently outnumber babies placed for adoption.

But Republicans!

Yes, those pesky Republicans. There never seems to be a party for the truly pro-life if you think of one party as increasing supply for abortion and one as increasing demand. Surely I am not the only one who finds herself caught between a rock an a hard place (or between a rock and a swirling vortex of terror) in the voting booth. Yes, the Republican platform is pro-life. It also is generally more opposed to government assistance for the poor. Government assistance. Actually, people residing in traditionally red states are statistically more charitable in supporting communities through churches, food banks, and those pro-life centers mentioned above. You can’t accuse people of not caring just because they may care differently than you do. And in any case, not everyone who is pro-life identifies as a Republican. I don’t.

So, firstly, those arguments are demonstrably false, and logically flawed ad hominem attacks.

Secondly, and importantly, it DOESN’T MATTER. Where pro-life/anti-abortion people stand on other issues does not change the morality of abortion.  Would you stop a fireman from saving a child from a burning building just to first make sure he’s willing to adopt that child? Even if he doesn’t give one tiny rat’s backside about what happens to that child afterwards, saving the child is still the right choice.

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Unborn babies are alive, and human, and it is never wrong to fight to protect them. It doesn’t matter what other programs you support, or how many children you have fostered or will adopt or if you’re religious or an atheist or if you’re a man or a woman or white or black or gay or straight or young or old. . It doesn’t matter because some things are moral absolutes and the killing of an innocent child is one of these things that is absolutely wrong. Not that black and white? Maybe. But I am literally betting my soul that it is.

 

What It’s Like at Our House

This past weekend we kicked off our spring soccer and dance seasons with a tournament and dance showcase. We are about to begin a lot of outings as a whole family. While logistics often demand that we divide and conquer when kids have overlapping activities, we do try to go together to support everyone whenever possible. This means that we are interacting with people who are getting the full effect of our family of eight en masse and in all its glory. And this means comments.

Some are long-blink-worthy.

“Oh look it’s that lady with all the kids. How many is it? 5?”

Six, actually. And my name is Laura.

But for the most part it’s mostly positive conversation from curious people.

“Don’t know how you do it”.  I tried-to-kind-of answer this here.

“I love seeing everyone together.” Me too.

Always a lot of “You’ve got your hands full”. I sure do! Full of…stuff that everyone makes me carry. And yes, my heart is full too.

“They are so good with each other, like their own little tribe.” Yes. Nailed it, fellow soccer mom.

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This weekend I also heard “I can’t imagine what it’s like.” Actually, I think you can. My guess is that “it” is a lot like your family, except with more laundry. Let me paint you a  picture, and we’ll see.

What it’s like at our house:

It looks like:

Toys on the floor and Pokemon cards and school paperwork on the kitchen counter. Piles of laundry waiting to be put away and piles of books and a pile of shoes at every entrance and a pile of kids on our bed. Smiling faces and grumpy faces. Princesses and superheros running through my kitchen. A group of them engaged in a game or just being.

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It sounds like:

The washing machine running, someone practicing the violin, and children squabbling or giggling. The mumbled lyrics of a song someone is listening to through ear buds. A harmonica or someone picking out a melody on the piano or crap, they found the recorders. What’s for dinner and hurry up we’re going to be late and please put your shoes on NOW. Always someone ringing our doorbell. So. Many. Questions. I love you more. Can you hold me?  Sometimes, farts.

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It smells like:

Glorious coffee brewing before anyone else is up. Watermelon shampoo, sweaty athletes, whatever is cooking for dinner. Lavender essential oil, because please everyone CALM DOWN. Rosemary because someone has been playing in the bushes. Sometimes, farts again.

It tastes like:

Victory when everyone makes it to their practices on time. Defeat when I cave and let the toddler leave the house in costume. Pizza Fridays and Taco Tuesdays and the Mexican restaurant that can always fit us all in and has the staff that addresses each of our children by name. Chubby baby feet. A cold, cold, beer when the drop-off, pick-up driving for the day is done.

It feels like:

A baby snuggled on my chest or wrapped tight on my back. His sleepy breath on my neck, or his tiny hands trying to rip my hair out in chunks. One child under one arm and another child under the other and a picture book in my hands. Spontaneous hugs from the preteens and teenager who still need to come home to me to recharge. Emotional exhaustion because someone always needs something from me. My brain weighed down with the invisible burden moms carry. My patience wearing thin. My heart swelling when one child’s face lights up at the sight of another. Kisses, cuddles, and so much love love love from eight different sources shooting out in all directions to fill our home.

Sound familiar?

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I Totally Sweat the Small Stuff

I totally sweat the small stuff.
You’d think I wouldn’t, right? I mean, six kids. Yikes. Probably doesn’t have time to worry about details. But that’s exactly why the little things take on so much importance. For the same reason I make an effort to keep my social media accounts positive (honest, but positive), it’s also important to me to not let my family’s size make me overlook the details. I want to be a good Large Family Ambassador, to show that large families are a blessing, not a curse. So, all of the following create way more anxiety than they’re worth:

– When we are late, or the slightest possibility exists that we might be late

– When one of my boys is clearly overdue for a haircut

– The possibility that my child might be the last one picked up at practice

– That I can’t always stay and watch my child practice

– When my children are wearing clothes that aren’t weather appropriate
or clothes that don’t match at all
or clothes that are clearly too small or too big

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– When I don’t help my child with his school project, so the project looks like I didn’t help him with his project

– When any of them misbehaves in public

– That I might be feeding them too much sugar or not enough vegetables

– That they watch too much tv

– That I don’t listen enough

– That maybe I should get them that dog, because kids should have a pet

– That they watch too much tv

– That I ask them to do too much

– That I ask them to do too little

I think parents of one child, or two, or three worry about these things too. What amplifies it for me stems from fear of judgement.

There, I said it. Healthy dose of fear of judgement with a generous sprinkling of good old-fashioned guilt. I know it shouldn’t bother me, and I’m working on it, but I’m afraid of being judged. Or more accurately, I am afraid of being judged based solely on the size of my family.

I know our family is different because it has more people in it than most, but I hate the idea that people might think that I (or general “you”) can’t be a good parent because of it.

Before you tell me it’s all in my head, please stop for a second and remember the magic of the internet and its glorious comments sections. Remember that poor family that lost a little boy a year ago while on vacation in Florida? Remember the backlash of  “Well if she’d only been next to her kid…” (even though the father was)? Now imagine if they’d had five other children to watch, or six or seven. How might the judgement have gone then? It doesn’t matter that a mother of two is no better equipped to wrestle a gator than a mother of seven. And only children sometimes need haircuts or outgrow clothes or are late just like children with many brothers and sisters. But for some reason, when it comes to larger families, “Susie’s mismatched outfit is so cute” turns into “Susie’s mom has so many kids she can’t even bother to dress her kid properly”. So yes, I think twice before letting the girls wear those Punky Brewster-esqe getups to Publix.  And “Oh, look at that toddler throwing a fit. Two-year-olds certainly have a mind of their own!” turns into “That lady has so many kids with her she can’t even control them. Bless her heart.” So yes, I immediately stress out when my kids are being too loud when we’re out, or running around where they shouldn’t.

I know. Stop reading the comments, right? All parents think about these things. Those people’s  opinions don’t matter. And those who say things directly to me such as “Well we wouldn’t expect you to worry about x or y with all those kids to handle…” probably have good intentions. I know.

I know. And still (in my head?) there’s that tiny voice that says “Well, maybe if you didn’t have six kids…”.

I could, what? Never be late? Eat all organic? Probably not. But knowing won’t keep me from paying attention to the little things, making sure my children thrive in the family they’ve been given, with the mother they’ve been given. Thrive because of, not despite. And I do think they are thriving. They love us, each other, and God. So I might sweat the small stuff, but by the grace of God and a whole lotta prayer, I have faith that we’re getting the big stuff right.

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