In response to “What Else Do Pro-Lifers Do?”, reader writes:
I’ve been told that mothers with young children do their charity in the home; that it’s more important to nurture those under your care than divide your time and energy by doing/going to other charitable things. While I agree with this to a certain extent, it seems a bit like…well, bs. An opt-out of those of us with kids under the age of 3 or 4 or whatever.
Reading your article made me realize I don’t do much—that I talk a big talk, but maybe I am one of those pro-lifers the pro-aborts says doesn’t do anything. Could you give some direction to a young mother with only 2 under 3 right now? I don’t want to fall into the delaying of “real life” trap that so many young mothers do (i.e. I’ll wait until the kids are older). After all, there will always be a baby (God willing), right?
Here are some reasons not to worry if you “don’t do much”:
1. Nothing is more important than family. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Just ask someone who wants to be home with her kids, but has to work. There is no work, charitable or for-profit, that is more important than being there for your kids and spouse. If everyone devoted themselves to family, then most of the problems that pro-lifers work to solve would not exist in the first place.
2. Charitable works are a skill that need to be learned, and it takes more than enthusiasm (or guilt) to be effective. Be patient with yourself—it will probably take years to discover what sort of charitable works you’re actually called to do. (And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that, whatever makes you anxious and uncomfortable, then that must be what God is calling you to do. Use the gifts that God gave you.)
3. Listen to the experts. If a trusted mechanic says your car is unsafe and should be taken off the road, you listen. If an older mom takes a look at your life and says, “Give yourself a break, honey,” then she probably knows what she’s talking about.
4. Don’t assume you know anything at all about your future life! If your life is crazy right now, don’t assume it will always be that way: the circumstances may not change, but you most certainly will, so don’t make decisions about the present based on what you think the future will be like. I felt extremely overwhelmed when I had three little kids, but fretted constantly that I wasn’t doing enough. Now I have nine kids, but I’m much more productive AND more peaceful, because I’ve learned a lot about how to handle time, how to manage expectations, how to prioritize, how to listen, when to push, and when to let things go. Those busy people you admire probably had quieter seasons of being pro-life at home.
That being said, there are many pro-life things a stay-at-home mom can do without breaking a sweat:
Specifically regarding unborn babies:
—Donate money, even a little bit. Pro-abortion monoliths tend to be very well-funded by wealthy donors and tax money; pro-life organizations tend to run on a shoestring, and are under constant attack. It may feel cold and impersonal to cut a check to the local crisis pregnancy center, but to the girl who is able to buy a new carseat or a case of diapers, it makes all the difference.
—Get involved politically from home. Many pro-life lists, like the Susan B. Anthony list, will alert you about important bills, and make it very easy to send a message to your legislators.
—Be casually but publicly pro-life, using positive bumper stickers or upbeat Facebook pictures. So many people believe what they hear on TV: that all pro-lifers are wild-eyed oppressors or backward, pie-in-the-sky saps. Let people make the connection that smart, normal, interesting people are pro-life.
Regarding broader “womb-to-tomb” (and beyond) issues:
—Pray a Hail Mary with your kids when you hear a siren, and emphasize the fact that, in the Communion of Saints, we’re all responsible for each other.
—Be kind to people. (I need to write this on the inside of my eyelids.) Be willing to listen to lonely old people, harmless nuts, and children whose parents don’t care very much. Teach your kids to do the same.
—Even if your grocery budget is tight, buy one or two items for your local food pantry every time you go shopping, and let your kids put it into the collection box. Hands-on charity makes a big impression on kids.
A final word about the value of being pro-life in the home:
We’re so used to seeing our own children, so used to the idea that they’re under our care, that we sometimes forget that the angels rejoice when a young person goes out into the world armed with truth and love, instead of going forth with their hearts cramped and crabbed by an acceptance of abortion. This is where the battle is fought: in individual hearts. Each abortion is a tragedy because it ends an individual life—but each heart that is taught how to love is a true and eternal victory.
Yes, raising our children lovingly is commonplace, a duty, nothing new. So what? It’s still a big deal. It’s still the way to save souls. This is the great thing about being part of the Culture of Life: everything counts. You don’t have to save your receipts! Your good works have been noted, and they will not go to waste.