It's been nine months since my last post, so I suppose I can do another one, right?
Appropriately, I've been thinking about family size (no, I'm not pregnant). With four children, we're at the cusp of what's considered a "socially acceptable" family size. Of course, as Catholics we're expected to conform to the Church and not to society, but that's not exactly an easy path to navigate, either.
We're told to be both generous and responsible with our fertility, but what does that mean? And how do we separate our personal feelings and biases from societal pressure to truly discern what's God's will and what this concept of generosity and responsibility looks like in practice?
Let's take responsibility- sometimes it's clear-cut (if you're homeless, for example, most people would agree it's not responsible to intentionally have children). But other times it's not so clear. What if having more children means your insurance premiums become significantly burdensome? Is it irresponsible to use Medicaid? Many politically conservative Catholics would say yes, but is it irresponsible from the viewpoint of the Church, and thus God, or is it in reality irresponsible from the viewpoint of their preferred political party or personal bias? We're a solidly working class family that lives paycheck to paycheck, so trust me, money issues are something I'm keenly aware of!
Generosity...with falling fertility rates in the US, many Catholics, regardless of income and other considerations, seem to feel that 3 or 4 kids is plenty generous. But again, who's standards are we judging against? God's, or our culture's?
I know there's a middle ground between having a dozen or more kids and living in abject poverty and having your 2.1 and living in your McMansion, but finding it is proving to be difficult for me. I know many other mothers who also struggle with this, and clearly I myself have more questions than answers.
For now, we're forgoing biological children and focusing on getting licensed to foster, and hopefully adopt a child. But after that (5 children is the limit to foster in our state), who knows?
If you're still reading, I'd love to hear your thoughts on discerning family size!