Politics & Catholicism, Part One

Warning you now. If you don’t want to read about Politics & Catholicism, then click away and don’t bother reading Part Two, either!

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Another chance to change your mind

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Okay, don’t say that I didn’t warn you! 

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Before writing this extremely long tirade regarding Politics & Catholicism, I truly debated if I should share this article, let alone go on a rant. As you can see, I ultimately did. 

This article was written by Jeannie Gaffigan, the wife of well-known comedian Jim Gaffigan. In this piece written for “America: The Jesuit Review,” Jeannie stated that — though she is firmly Catholic in her beliefs, and is most-definitely pro-life (as most Catholics are) — wrote that she will not be voting for Trump this election. She stated the impetus for writing this essay was the Twitter Storm that ensued after Jim, who has always been non-political in every single act he performed or interview he has done, had uncharacteristically tweeted a “profanity-laden rant against President Trump.” 

Personally, I don’t think the tweet was that bad; however, the responses he received (as well as on Jeannie’s own Twitter account) was full of vitriol & hate. And many of them  (continued to) spread misinformation. Several responses even turned to quoting Trump when he called his opponent as a “fake Catholic.”

Which, for someone who ordered law enforcement to deliver tear gas to peaceful protestors & the surrounding media personnel standing in his way just for a photo opportunity, Trump certainly didn’t display Christian-like behavior. Ironically, that photo op was to show the public that he is a good, God-fearing Christian. In actuality, his actions prior to this photo op (and even after the tear gas was delivered) proved that he is definitely NOT Christian. Seriously, he doesn’t even know how to hold the Bible properly!

But we’ll get to that in my next diatribe, as I suspect this post will end up being super long. Anyhoo …

After Jim’s tweet, close friends and families of theirs had privately came up to Jeannie to informed her that they didn’t like Trump either; in fact, they hate everything else that he stands for. However, they also suggested that as a “Real Catholic,” she should “hold [her] nose and vote for Trump if only because the Catholic faith dictates, above all, we must vote for the pro-life” candidate.” 

What I like the most about Jeannie’s article is she stated so eloquently those exact reasons that *I* won’t vote for Trump. Well, actually she quotes from Pope Francis’ message that he delivered to the US  as a result of the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, which went into overdrive following the death of George Floyd and other similar events (before and after) his death. 

Pope Francis said, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”  

Jeannie then wrote that systemic racism in our our current culture has led to the economic and social inequality we’re currently experiencing — or rather, just now “noticing” — in our country.   And in the current state of affairs, it is virtually impossible to claim  that we (as Catholics) are truly practicing a “culture of life,” which protects the the sanctity of ALL life. Jeannie goes on to add that , “… we [as Catholics] have been complicit in a long history of de-valuing our fellow human beings based on the color of their skin or the way they came to this country.”

As someone who has had 12 years of Catholic education (and has also been label a “Fake Catholic”), this goes against everything I learned about humanity in school and during the thousands of homilies I’ve listened to in the course of my life thus far. And, although my Mom sees me as a “Lapsed Catholic,” I want her to know that all the money that my parents spent on my education did not go to waste. I have *always* turned to what I was fundamentally taught during my formative years. And I continue to practice these principles of Catholicism today; not only spiritually, but ethically as well.  

My actions are the result of practicing a lesson that I was taught during my formative years and is a moral principle for several different faiths: 

“Love one another; [and] just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

(John 13:34

The Golden Rule, or as it is defined by theologians, the “Ethics of Reciprocity.“ It’s the first thing you are taught in Catholic school (and/or catechism classes). It’s the one act that is almost inherent for most Christians, and the rule that even any empathetic person that choose to be agnostic or an atheist. 

As someone who chose to be an RN, I am inherently drawn to treat everyone with empathy, of which I learned from that Golden Rule. It certainly is a lesson taught in Med School (“First, do no harm”) and Nursing School (via The Modern Nightingale Pledge that “Nursing is a ‘Missioner of Health … dedicated to the advancement of human welfare.’”)

How about Muslims?” you might ask. While not directly quoted in the Quran, Muslims also have the intrinsic belief that they “must think about how their actions affect others; to see the world in a whole new way – through the eyes of another.”   

The basic gist is: Be good to one another. 

Can you, as a Christian, think that Trump is following the Golden Rule? Jeannie Gaffigan certainly doesn’t think so, stating in her article that “Mr. Trump is only pro-Mr. Trump.” How can someone claiming to be Christian say that prisoners of war and soldiers who died defending our freedom are “losers” or “suckers” ?!? 

I could cite many (MANY) more examples of how pathologically narcissistic Mr. Trump is; but I won’t. Yet.

Any sane Christian would agree that Trump has broken all Ten Commandments AND has committed all of the seven of the Deadly Sins. I (obviously) subscribe to that thought. Wholeheartedly.  However, after much reflection and  prayers  (yes, Mom, I DO pray) I cannot vote for a person who is not sympathetic, let alone empathetic. Trump definitely does not think of others, except if it affected him personally. As a matter of fact, I believe he doesn’t even *think* about — let alone pray for —  those individuals & groups that do not subscribe to his beliefs. Truthfully (and stay with me here, my friends), Trump probably doesn’t know the Beatitudes, much less recognize that MANY Christians use this as a guide to *understand* and learn from those individuals / groups / religions whose thoughts don’t align with their own beliefs. 

As a refresher for my friends (and a lesson for those friends that are not familiar with the Beatitudes), here they are: 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.

Matthew 5:3-10

Forgive me if you find the following sentences insulting. Before you cast your ballot (stone?), I beg you you to See. The. Whole. Picture. Before deciding who should represent and lead the American People. Please DO NOT cast your vote simply because of the ONE platform on the current president’s stance – or rather “indifference” – regarding Roe v Wade. Think of the OTHER platforms that he promotes during his (COVID-19 ridden, non-mask wearing, anti-social distancing) rallies. 

Let me say this in another way. If you (Catholics & Christians) are planning on voting for Trump just because he agrees with only ONE of his many platforms he’s using to run his campaign;   or because who is “for” (better stated, “indifferent” about) Roe v Wade .. please please PLEASE remember those Beatitudes. Ask yourself if Trump plans on helping ALL the individuals named in the Beatitudes, as WELL as those unborn children who’s life you’re fighting to defend.  

Does that mean I’m pro-life? As a confirmed Catholic, that answer is tricky and it depends on the events & situations surrounding the woman & her loved ones. I think there are circumstances such as complications during pregnancy, as well as the lack of support & financial means to raise a child, are involved in making a decision. And I am aware that, even if it’s not directly stated in the Bible, the interpretation is that the woman should keep the child. 

But (and this is where I bring up empathy) think about it in the context of yourself, your sister, mother, aunt, daughter, grand-daughter: 

What if you were single or married to an abusive spouse? What about the safety of the the child once he/she is born? 

What if your sister is unable to financially afford even the basics for herself, let alone a child? 

What if your daughter’s pregnancy happened as a result of rape? Of incest? Of sex trafficking? 

What if your grand-daughter had a miscarriage in the late 2nd or 3rd trimester? Would you expect her to keep the lifeless child in her womb until she is able to deliver her stillborn baby? 

What if, in the desire to have children, your infertile daughter & son-in-law seeks other means to start their family and it doesn’t “take”? What if they didn’t have enough money to go through another round, using frozen eggs .. But they can’t anyway because they didn’t have enough frozen eggs to even try again? What if a year passes, and your daughter (now confused, hurt, and ashamed with still not having kids) receives a call to renew the “rent” to keep these eggs frozen — but didn’t have the thousands of dollars it takes to keep them frozen for another year? What if that couple had no other choice but to “give them up?” 

Yes, that last situation was true. And yes, it did happen to me. 

What about adoption, you may ask? Well, let me ask you to put your empathy hat on once again. What if your sister wants, yet knows she is unable, to keep the child (for various reasons as mentioned above)? What if your sister was given different CHOICES and ultimately decided to put the child up for adoption? As a woman who is infertile (well, menopausal TBH), I believe that this is *much harder* to do than the general public would think. 

If you *truly* believe that adoption will “solve everything,” then, once again, you should examine the whole picture. Ask your sister why she is / was leaning one way or the other. Understand the various reasons your sister is making (or already made) the decision she did. Seek to understand, rather than instruct your sister what she should do. 

Don’t tell your sister what YOU would do in her situation; rather, ask her what YOU can do for her. 

And support (and RESPECT) her decision, regardless of it goes against your belief. 

I can’t tell you what it would be like to give up a child (we couldn’t even have one if / when we tried, anyway 🙃😝😂) or even to end a viable pregnancy, but I imagine that person would continue to live her life with a ginormous gaping wound in her heart; knowing that her child or his / her spirit is out there somewhere. I imagine she will always have the feeling that a part of her is missing in her life and stay with her the rest of her days, even when she wanted to get / could get pregnant again. 

Can you see the resemblance in emotions for a woman that couldn’t have kids of her own? After over 15 years of infertility, I *still* have that gaping wound and hole in my heart (and can’t forget “good old Catholic guilt”) from our attempts to have biological children of our own. From losing those frozen eggs. 

So I can hear the question now: “Why didn’t you & your husband try to adopt?” As an infertile couple, we DID consider that alternative. Let me just tell you (from experience) that it isn’t EASY to “just adopt.” There are financial issues, privacy issues, and the overall feeling that you’re not “good enough” to be *approved* by the agency to be placed on a list; let alone  *chosen* by a woman. For those that sought to adopt, I’m simply in awe that they could open their hearts and home to accept a non-biological child. I’m absolutely thrilled that those adoptions were successful, and that they were able to start (or complete) their family in this method. 

In my case, I was overwhelmed by the thought of starting our family by adoption. My confidence had been shattered to pieces by years of doctors appointments (sometimes daily looky-see’s down there 😱). Simply stated, I couldn’t “just adopt” after years of failure and disappointment to have a biological child of our own. I was afraid that, even though we might have been chosen to be parents of that women’s child, the biological mother or father or other family members may change their mind and then take away the baby I had been wanting to raise since first go married. I had no power in our ability to have biological children let alone adopt, so at least I can direct the narrative of our situation and “Let God, let go.” 

Obviously, Hubby and I ultimately decided that if it was meant to be, then it would be. And since nothing came of it, we decided to be fur parents instead. After finally making the decision to remain child-free, I felt the entire weight of the world lifted off my shoulders. 

So after reading my own experience, ask me again if I’m pro-life or pro-choice. Ask me if I believe that each person is unique and that their life experiences lead them to make the decision they do / did. I know what I am, but I want you, as a reader, decide on where I stand — and where YOU stand — on this issue. 

Okay, as I knew this would be a long post, I will just leave off here and continue my rant in the following (long) post. 

Read Part 2 now. Or later. I have no problem if you decided to take a break, especially if you feel I’ve talked (written?) your ear (eyes?) off.

Bad Blogger

IMG_1479Well hello there strangers. I know … it’s been a while and I sincerely hope everyone is doing well in the Land of IF, cities in Between and points Beyond.

There is no excuse for not writing on this blog very much. The truth is, I haven’t had much to say in regards to living child-free (NOT by choice). And anything I’ve had to say about things has really been small snippets on my Facebook page about articles I’ve shared.

You see, unlike 15 years ago when I first started this infertility journey (well, actually, it’s been closer to 20 years, now that I think about it … yikes!), there is a lot more media surrounding IF. Seriously … where was all this support when I needed it?!

Social media aside, I’m just truly grateful that it was through the blogosphere that I met many wonderful people going through this infertility journey with me. Most of us have now resolved our infertility journeys; some managed to have biological children of their own either naturally or by way of IVF (one of them had TWINS!), some of them became adoptive parents, and some even became step-parents. And some of them … well, some sort of combination of all of the above!

As for me, I have pretty much resolved the fact that I will never have biological children of my own for these facts:

  • I am over 40 years old
  • I’m pretty sure I’m going into early menopause
  • Adoption for us is way beyond our financial means
  • I am way too exhausted to think of parenting at my age
  • Being over 40, I cannot fathom having to raise a child now and be close to (or even over) 60 by the time they graduate from high school

 

Unfortunately, these facts don’t stop some well-meaning family members from thinking I’m going to have some sort of miraculous conception. (We won’t even go into our recent trip to the Philippines.)

Monasterio de Santa Clara
Monasterio de Santa Clara (click on picture)

 

So what brings me out of my semi-retirement? A damn movie.

But first let me clarify something. While we may have reached the end of our IF journey, this doesn’t mean that some things can slap us in the face and make us fully aware that we are not the norm … that we are quite different than the rest of everyday society.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned to accept that Hubby & I are on a unique path of our own (just like every other person / couple / family is). I’ve gotten used to answering “No” to when new friends, acquaintances, or other professionals ask us if we have any children. And I’m certainly used to and am very comfortable in explaining why we don’t either. I can stand on my own (without crying, to boot!) when discussing infertility and the emotions that a person goes through while traveling on that journey. I can be rational about debating why adoption isn’t for us. I can even easily ask and converse with others about their children without feeling inferior.

But every once in a while, there’s something that happens that can have me contemplating why we chose this Child-Free-Not-By-Choice life. Or has me feeling, once again, that I’m alone in the world of other adults that are parents … and that I can’t possibly know what it’s like to be one of them.

This time it’s a movie … particularly one that is specifically aimed towards motherhood and all the horrible things that occur during parenting a child.

Okay, I get it. Yes … motherhood isn’t always glamorous. In fact, I’d say the only time everyday parenting looks glamorous is on Facebook or Pinterest or Instagram … or any other social media outlet out there. And that’s only after 5 GAZILLION retakes to make it “just perfect.”

IMG_2318But it’s still something that I can’t fully understand.

Because, for being “over-worked, over-committed and exhausted to the point that [these moms are] about to snap” (directly from the plot summary, BTW)? I will never know what it’s like to feel that way. As a Mom, anyway.

And yet … Well, here’s something for all those moms out there:

Those feelings – while not as “ongoing on a daily basis”-type of way – are what those who have experienced / are experiencing infertility go through on a month-to-month basis.

Nothing hits you straight in the gut with a pregnancy test that doesn’t have that second line … and knowing you’ll have to go through the same treatments (-ie- shots, pills, holistic treatments, all of the above) for yet another month.

I know that I will eventually see this movie in the future (because – C’MON! The same writers as “The Hangover”?!). But next weekend, I’ll likely just chill with my Hubby and our four-legged child.

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PS. If you want know where “I’ve” been in social media lately, check out this Instagram account.

IMG_3547

More Than a Woman?

Tired. That’s how I’ve felt this past weekend. I think the 10-hour days are catching up with me and I’m not looking forward to Monday when it will start all over again.

I think it’s time to take some time off. Maybe a scheduled mental health day to regroup myself. On a Monday. Or a Friday. So I can extend my weekend by an extra day.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m still going to spend the day before returning to work worrying about what I need to do the day I actually return to work. 

I worry too much. Not a surprise for people that know me very well. To others though, especially at work, I guess I put off this vibe that everything is going to be okay. But internally, I’m a nervous wreck.

Why is that?

Hubby seems to think I put too much pressure on myself, that I should learn to ease up on myself. That I should learn to break down projects into manageable tasks. And he’s right, the smart man that I married.

I do put a lot of pressure on myself to be as best that I can be. I guess it goes back to that thought that if I try hard enough, I’ll succeed in anything I do.

And we all know that Infertility taught me that that statement is not always relevant to everything. 

So why am I still living my life like that? I guess I do it in the hopes of being a better person than would be if I had kids. That somehow, I need to make up for being more of a woman because I don’t have kids. 

Does that sound ridiculous? 

I know it does. There are lots of women living child-free by choice that can attest to this. Heck, there are women that have gone through infertility and are now living child-free that can say that they still feel like a whole woman. 

Right now, I’m not one of those women. Which is why I worry too much. And expect more out of myself. And I wish there was a way that I could just be happy with who I am. 

 

Mixed Feelings

Hubby: “You make sure you wake me up before you take the test, okay?”
Me: “Okay, I’ll tell you when I have to go.”
Hubby: “No. Wake me up and tell me you’re going to take the test.”

So that’s what I did this morning at 6:30 am. Woke Hubby up to tell him I couldn’t hold it any longer. That I had to take the test now.

2 minutes later it was all over. We hugged each other and then crawled back into bed.

Hubby: “You okay?”
Me: (pauses) “Yes.”
Hubby: “You sure?”
Me: (pauses again) “Sure.”

But really I wasn’t. Eventually,  I told Hubby the truth. And the truth was that I had mixed feelings about the pregnancy test that I took this morning. 

It was negative. And I had mixed feelings about it being negative.

I was sad, that’s for sure. You see, I’m late with my period by over two weeks and there’s the part of me that was hopeful for a positive test after all these years. 

I won’t lie … I was already planning ahead; thinking about setting up a doctor’s appointment if the test came back positive. I had in my mind when the “maybe baby” would be due. And was deciding if Hubby and I would want to know the sex of the “maybe baby” or let it be a surprise. 

I was feeling hopeful.

Now that we know for sure that I’m not pregnant, I’m disappointed … but on the other hand, I’m also relieved. 

Relieved because I know that I’m 40 and I don’t know if I have the capacity to be a good “older” parent. Let’s face it, we’d be closer to 60 by the time our child would graduate from high school. If we were lucky, in our 70’s by the time our child married. And if we were really lucky, we’d have time to enjoy grandchildren. 

Oh, I know it’s no longer uncommon for women to get pregnant in their 40’s. However, 40 wasn’t the age I was planning to have children. I wanted them more than 15 years ago.

Besides, I’ve been coming to terms with living child-free after infertility. I’ve started to think of Hubby & me living our lives as a Family of Two. What would having a child now do to this new path in life?

I’m feeling other emotions (like good old Catholic guilt), but sadness and relief are the predominant ones. I’m sure that these feelings will fade with time, as everything eventually does. But for now, since it’s still fresh … I’m just going to let me feel what I feel.