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photo of the week by Andreas Krappweis

photo of the week by Andreas Krappweis

As Mother’s Day approaches on Sunday (note!): Two takes on a world in which sex, gender, and reproduction are no longer assumed to have any relation. One presenting the risks of a made-to-order approach to baby-making and the response of Catholic social teaching. And one with a sexless, genderless approach to teaching kids about how babies are made . . . to order . . . in a world in which this commodification is increasingly a new norm. More gently, two of my favorite older posts for moms of little ones and those who care for them. And a sweet video reminder of the things that kids really appreciate about their moms.

:: Parents as Stewards: Rejecting the Commodification of Reproduction (CatholicMoralTheology.com)

Children simply don’t stick to the plan. They require nerve-wracking trips to the ER. They have trouble in school. They fall ill, sometimes in ways that reshape their parents’ lives. They turn up, late-night, at the police station. They pair off and marry in ways their parents find desperately foolish. Decades later, they suddenly need assistance in ways no one could have predicted.

Happily, Catholic moral theology offers a vision that makes sense of this reality. These children, it would remind us, are persons, possessing absolute innate dignity. They are not commodities to be acquired for the benefit they provide. They can never be reduced to an expression of others’ choices, not even the choices of those who play a part in their conception.

If this basic claim of personhood could be convincingly argued, it would accomplish a great deal. Not all instances of seeing children as fulfillment-of-adult-decisions-and-desires are as sharply articulated as the one described in the essay linked above, but such instances are everywhere. 

:: “A Truly Inclusive Way to Answer ‘Where Do Babies Come From?’” (The Atlantic)

What Makes a Baby is, as you’d probably suspect from the title, a picture book intended to teach young children about where they come from. In other words, it’s an origin story. And, like most origin stories, it’s not just descriptive, but proscriptive. [sic] A story about where we’re from tells us where we are—and where we should be going.

This is not precisely author Cory Silverberg’s intent—or at least, it’s not something he dwells on in the downloadable reader’s guide. Instead, he explains, the book “invites the adult reader to share with a child the unique story of how that particular child came to be in the world, in their community, and in their family.” The book is deliberately and insistently inclusive—which means that it does not presume a “normal” one-fertile-mommy-one-fertile-daddy household. Indeed, the book doesn’t even mention the word “mommy” or “daddy”.

Instead, What Makes a Baby explains that “Not all bodies have eggs in them. Some do, and some do not;” and that “Not all bodies have sperm in them. Some do, and some do not.” Similarly, sex isn’t so much tip-toed around as it is relegated to one unspecified option among many. “When grown ups want to make a baby they need to get an egg from one body and sperm from another body. They also need a place where a baby can grow.”

:: 100 Ways to Encourage a New Mom (Lisa-Jo Baker, February 2012)

  • Ask her which baby items she still needs – get her those instead of the cute clothes you have your eye on
  • Assure her you understand that while she might know that she’s walking on holy ground, that doesn’t mean she won’t still feel irritated how often that ground is strewn with cracker crumbs and yesterday’s socks
  • Admit motherhood is one of the hardest things you’ve ever done
  • Go ahead and quote that goodie-but-oldie, “It’s not brave if you’re not scared.” {Thank you, Ben Affleck}
  • Warn her everyone will have an opinion on how she mothers but at the end of the day, hers is the only one that matters
  • Assure her motherhood is not graded; some days just surviving is victory enough

:: The Tunnel of Parenthood (One More Soul, August 2011)

It was as if a huge weight was lifted from me, and I was filled with hope. “It’s going to get better? Really?” I didn’t know it at the time, but Tom and I were in the “Tunnel of Parenthood: The First Five Years.” Now that we have emerged from the Tunnel, I have grown more and more convinced that those were indeed the hardest years.

It’s not the mere fact of having children under the age of five in the home that makes it the Tunnel; it’s going through the parenting of children under five for the first time. The very young child’s stages of development are rapid-fire and, when you’ve never experienced them before, are at times baffling. It all slows down after age five. Meaning, the differences between a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old are vast compared to the differences between a 5-year-old and a 6-year-old. It is a literal whirlwind from zero to five.

More than that, in the first few years, parents are “on duty” all the time in a very physical way. It can be plain exhausting when the little ones are getting all of their needs met by Mom and Dad, and those needs are immediate and primal.

:: Thank You, Mom – Mother’s Day Tribute (Care.com)