Catholic at Home: Show the World: Children are Blessings! by Katie Sciba
We go through our pep talk every time I take the kids out. “What do we need to show the world?!” I shout to the back of the van. Then comes their battle cry, “That children are blessings!”
A couple years ago, I started telling my sweet kids that even though we know every life is a gift, not everybody else does; so if we behave and smile when we’re out, we can show them how much of a blessing a handful of kids is.
It’s often more of a reminder for me.
Through the parking lot with my chain of ducklings trailing, we chant, “No fits! Inside voices! Ohhhh-bey!” Under my breath I beg for God’s mercy, make sure my face is relaxed, and try to get out of the store as quickly as we get in. Every mama knows a child in public is a wild card – anything from barometric pressure to sugar intake can affect behavior – multiply it by five, and my sanity is in their tiny hands.
But I know regardless of the day’s elements and check-out lines, my demeanor is more important than my kids’, because if anyone is going to convince onlookers that my kids are blessings, it’s me.
In our public appearances, the looks, questions, and comments our family typically hears come from curious strangers. We get the classic “Do you know what causes that?” to “Which ones are you babysitting?” and “You got your girl – why didn’t you stop?!” (I got that one in Mass). Though our family of seven is hardly record-breaking, I know we’re a sight to see. A traveling circus, it often feels like.
People point to our youngest son who came after our only daughter, “Was that one planned?” Well, yes – by God. He was a bit of a surprise for us, but I was praying we’d have another one.
Motherhood and Pro-Life
Being a mama is how the Lord has called me to the pro-life movement.
I was pregnant with number five when the reality of this call came to light. We duck-lined up to the check-out, and the cashier’s eyes were huge as she took us in. I laughed when her sights settled on my obviously expectant tummy. “Don’t they fight? Don’t they make a mess? And you’re pregnant, you poor thing.”
I didn’t hesitate to tell her they absolutely fight, all the time, but they’re also the best of friends. They have the most compelling and natural concern for each other. And they’re psyched out of their minds for their little brother to come out.
Then I laid on that awesome wisdom from Pope St. John Paul II, “The greatest gift you can give your child is a sibling.”
Maybe it’s pride, but I like to think the pro-life movement needs more traveling circuses – parents willing to welcome children biologically or thought adoption; small families willing to become big families by the same means; and mamas willing to go out publicly (and happily) with their children. A woman considers abortion out of fear that a baby will turn her world upside down in the worst ways; secular society views children as obstacles to a free life. What bolder statement, what happier invitation, could we make than to accept babies – planned or not – for all the upside-down they bring?
Responding in Kindness
And what’s as important as speaking of our blessings as blessings, is receiving comments with sweetness and patience. Chances are that onlookers who regard my crew as a handful of burdens and mess-makers grew up hearing the same about themselves. There’s a whole context and back story to every bit of skepticism, even disgust. So take the stares and questions! Smile and be real. Show your kids that other people are gifts, just like they are.
Isn’t that the whole message of the pro-life movement? We know life in every stage is a gift from God; even if that stage throws fits, needs an extra trip to the bathroom, makes messes and fights. An imprint, an image of Divinity Himself, will always be worth the upside-down, and it’s up to us mamas to show the world.
Katie Sciba is a national speaker and six-time Catholic Press Award-winning columnist. She holds a degree in theology from Benedictine College. Katie and her husband Andrew have been married for 11 years and are blessed with six children.