catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 17 :: 2008.09.26 — 2008.10.10


Best laid plans

You can take the pill, take your temperature, take a break from sex during ovulation and take a pre-natal vitamin, but you cannot plan your family. You can drink raw milk, drink ultra-pasteurized milk, drink wheat grass juice, drink filtered water, and avoid drinking alcohol, but you cannot plan your family. You can read Taking Charge of Your Fertility, Natural Family Planning Blessed Our Marriage, and The Pre-Pregnancy Planner, but you cannot plan your family.

And, if you are blessed to conceive, pee positively on a stick and consider baby names, you cannot plan what will happen next. You cannot plan that the fetus will implant properly in the uterus, that it will have a fetal pole, that the heart and lungs will develop. But, if you are blessed in a healthy pregnancy, limited projectile vomiting, feet that stay the same size and healthy skin, you cannot plan your delivery. You cannot tell your unborn child to get in the right position, head downward, facing the spine. You cannot know how the body will respond to pushing or breathing, or how long it will take. You cannot help it if it takes twenty-four, thirty-six or four hours. You cannot plan your family.

But the miracle of life occurs around every turn; a healthy conception, gestation and delivery-a child with ten fingers, ten toes and a dark wisp of hair. And then there are new choices, new ways to plan your family: feeding on demand or on a schedule; preschool or not; public, Christian, parochial, home or unschool. TV in the home? Radiohead or Rachmaninoff or both? Do you race around town like a driver in Taxi delivering your children to Scouts, gymnastics, Suzuki violin, children’s choir and soccer? Or do you stay home and let them poke sticks in the mud and smash worms with their bare feet? But even if every choice is made from a place of consolation, from a time of research and reading, agreed on by your community, your church and family, you cannot plan your family.

You cannot plan that your daughter will eat enough food and have a healthy relationship with it-even if you do. You cannot plan that your son’s friends at school will demonstrate respect to women’s bodies and that when they don’t, he will be disturbed and talk to you about it. But even if your children are good, if they love the Lord, read, and enjoy quiet walks with you at dusk, you cannot plan your family.

You cannot plan that your parents will stay married, that they will honor their wedding vows and the community of faith in which you were raised. You cannot plan that your children will know their grandparents as wise and astute, stepping in when you have no words, when you feel a failure. You cannot plan that your siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles will gather peaceably and with love to celebrate the big things that matter: the love and hope in Christ that we share, the mutual concern for the true well-being of our family community, the treasure each of us is to God and to one another. You cannot plan your family.

You cannot plan your family because a plan is only a plan. It’s a picture of one’s desire, a vision of control. In planning, you can hope, you can dream, you can prepare and you can make a list of things to do, but that’s all it is-an idea for how you wanted things to work out. And it won’t; there will be surprise and tragedy, legs wrapped around one another, embracing, while you slowly realize your imagination never could have created anything sometimes so cruel and sometimes so joyful.

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