When we were engaged, people would often tell us to “enjoy this time of singlehood” or “enjoy these last months of singlehood.” Because, apparently, when you are married, “everything changes.”
After we were married, some people told us to wait a year (or years) to have kids, again citing this so-called “time to enjoy life” — because, again, “everything changes.”
Of course, everything changes. Life is always changing. The problem was the cynical tone we often heard when people shared these sentiments, as if life was so much better in the “selfish days,” where you had no one to “report to” or no dependents “draining the life out of you.”
Even Time magazine ran an article last year celebrating the “Childfree Life,” subtitled “When Having It All Means Not Having Children.” We’re experiencing a profound cultural shift in the West that equates having children with a loss of freedom and therefore a life of misery.
Rightfully so, a child limits your freedom. It isn’t all about you anymore, nor was it ever.
Choosing to live a Christian life necessitates that you’re daily surrendering your self-centered ways, setting “your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
While the culture may indeed be cynical about babies, God always calls us to deeper selflessness, regardless of our vocational call. We are all called to put on a sacrificial love that stops asking, “What about me?” and starts asking, “How can I be a gift for another?”
We were open to life from the start of our marriage. We learned natural family planning in the months leading up to our wedding, and we communicated our desires regarding parenthood.
Three months into our marriage, we were blessed to get pregnant, and in August, we delivered a beautiful baby girl. We’ve learned quickly how this little “saint-making machine” challenges our daily routines, decision-making and sleeping schedules.
When we choose our weekend plans or Mass times, we have to factor in the baby’s feeding schedule, sleeping schedule and crying/fussy schedule. Even planning a vacation is less about couple adventures like zip-lining and romantic restaurants and more about family-friendly sightseeing and loud restaurants.
Would we want to go back to life without our daughter? Never.
As Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen wrote in his book Three to Get Married, “Only those who have immortality in their hearts really yearn to prolong that immortality through the child. … When the spirit has become sterile, then even human life seems worthless. And if one cannot bear ennui and boredom of his own life, there is no urge to give life to others. The denial of the offspring is a sign of the deadening of the spirit.”
As human beings, we were made for motherhood and fatherhood, to bear spiritual and/or physical children, whether we are married, single or vowed religious. We will all carry a cross — no follower of Christ is exempt.
As God has been graciously abundant in pouring out his blessings to the generations, we are all called to the same generosity and selflessness. How will we respond?
Bobby and Jackie Angel write from Orange County, California,
where Jackie is a Catholic singer, speaker and worship leader,
and Bobby teaches at an all-boys Catholic high school.