Friday, January 15, 2010

Welcome to My Bedroom

There is, it would appear, still some mystery shrouding the state of newly-weddedness. I’ve been married for 48 wonderful days at present (but who’s counting?), and at least in my neck of the woods, that’s still big news for some people.

People like my next door neighbor, who left a little note thanking us for a Christmas treat we baked for her and hinting that she’d love to look at wedding photos sometime soon… people like the lady at the bank who squealed with delight when I told her I was closing my account and merging finances with my hubby…

And then there are the other reactions. I’m not talking about overtly negative reactions here - everyone I’ve shared news of my nuptials with has been sweetly upbeat - I’m talking about the super, SUPER awkward “so, when are you two going to “get started?” (wink, wink)

The first time it happened I’m not even sure I understood what the inquisitor was getting at. We were 4 days into our honeymoon and our darling landlady, from whom we rented a gorgeous villa on Hawaii’s big island, was sagely delivering advice along with the fresh avocados and starfruit she’d picked in her garden that morning.

“Wait as long as possible before having kids, trust me… enjoy this time,” she whispered conspiratorially, gesturing towards the family sharing the adjacent villa to ours, their five year old splashing happily in the pool.

My husband and I looked at each other and shrugged, smiling a little. Seeing this exchange, our landlady clapped her hands in delight and squealed (yes, squealed) “OH, you’re TRYING! Shh, shh, don’t TELL me! Don’t tell me a thing! No, no, I don’t want to hear about it,” she insisted, clapping her hands over her ears.

I think she was charmed… but it also may have been drug induced. I can’t say for sure.

Dave and I shrugged and explained in a few short sentences that for us, there was no “trying” or “not trying” (didn’t feel like delving into the intricacies of NFP on the front porch at 8 am), but that, yeah, we’d gotten married with the idea that babies follow sex follows marriage follows that big, crazy expensive party our parents threw for us last week.

She was placated … I think. At any rate, she promptly ceased her inquiries into our sex life. I’m not sure she entirely realized that was, in fact, what she had been asking about.

A month later, while being shuttled to the airport from a conference I’d spoken at, the driver struck up a similar conversation.

“So you’re a newlywed,” he grinned in the rearview mirror, after I’d laughingly explained my confusion at seeing my maiden name scrawled on his whiteboard.

“Yep,” I nodded my assent.

“Well, you’re not thinking about having kids for a while yet, then.”

I’m not kidding, this was the very first exchange between Randy and myself, having first laid eyes on one another 30 seconds earlier.

“Um… actually…” I paused, not really wanting to provide information about my marital intimacies to a strange cab driver, but decided to throw propriety to the wind (as it had apparently already been jettisoned) and answer him honestly.

“We got married because we want to start a family,” I began, choosing my words carefully, “so, if we were to be blessed with a child now - or at any point - we’d be really happy.”

“Oh, okay.” He was quiet for a minute before launching into a story about his plans for the evening - New Year’s Eve - involving his wife and two children and a long-anticipated trip to Sea World.

I was half listening, half pondering while we drove and he talked, wondering when on earth it became okay to ask a young woman about her sexual habits before asking her first name. Sex has become so disconnected from babies, from reality, it would seem, that asking a strange young woman about her sexual practices before asking her first name is kosher.

I can’t say I was entirely surprised by this new post-nuptial phenomena. I’ve witnessed my mom handle enough checkout line interrogations of “Oh my gawd, are those ALL yours?” or “Wow, how many ARE you planning to have” to know what was coming to me when I signed my new last name on the dotted line. And I know that if and when God does decide to entrust Dave and me with one of His little ones, the inquiries will intensify with each subsequent sibling who arrives.

But I don’t think it’s going to change the way I answer. In a culture that has become so intent upon divorcing babies from the bedroom, I think a “teachable moment” might be just what the doctor ordered when some well-meaning stranger asks me about my sex life. The truth is, babies do often come about as a result of sex, which goes hand-in-glove with marriage … and yes, that big, white party our parents threw for us last month.

And I think that’s worth pointing out, since you brought it up.

Glad you asked. Some weather we’re having, isn’t it?

12 comments:

  1. We are expecting our first in March... love your post. Its wild the questions we are asked out there.

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  2. Congratulations on the nuptials. We are married 14 years. Has not always been easy, but worth it. We took another honeymoon back to Spain in July and are going back in June with our daughter.

    Just wondering about adoption. You say you are waiting for "god" to send you one, willing to accept one, yet you could adopt with the state tomorrow. I am always fascinated how anti choicers/pro lifers seem to use adoption as the procreation of last resort.

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  3. IronDog, I don't know how many "anti choicers/pro lifers" you've talked to about adoption, but in my humble experience these are exactly the people who are more likely to adopt, more likely to adopt a special needs or older or foster care child (I know one family who just adopted several orphaned siblings, all HIV positive, that nobody else wanted), more likely to adopt even if the family already has more than one child, and more likely to adopt more than one or two kids. Personally, I think the decision to adopt is wonderful but is a rather private subject. A bit like the topic of this post, actually - procreation isn't usually appropriate for random strangers to inquire about so boldly.

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  4. Amelia: It seems to me that inquiring about procreation is a lot less bold than the overt sexual topics otherwise included in this site. We are all adults here and obviously intellectually curious people. Having said that, your reference to the family that adopted the HIV sibling group should not be such a special anecdote. It seems to me that if your anti choice fetus embrasing crowd really lived its rhetoric, there would be no orphans unwanted by anybody. I know a lot of folks who have adopted, namely gays and lesbians adn teh Angelina Brad Pitt types. My friends involved in PETA actually live the rhetoric. They do not eat meat, wear leather, etc. They are willing so conform their lifestyle to their rhetoric unlike most of your crowd. When people like this blogger call abortion, even contraception, an American Holocaust it is not a private matter, but a matter of your public hypocrisy.

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  5. Adoption is a beautiful - and expensive - way to build a family. My husband and I - like many other pro life couples we know personally - would adopt a child tomorrow if it were financially feasible. In fact, we've tossed around the idea of standing in front of a planned parenthood "clinic" and offering to take the "unwanted" child off the hands of the mother planning to discard him or her. Life is too valuable, in our opinion, to close one's heart to whatever means by which God might be calling you to parenthood.

    As far as casting pro life couples as "anti choice" and uniformly hesitant to pursue adoption as an option, that's both offensive and foolish. I know many wonderful couples who struggle mightily through the complicated, expensive and bureaucratic adoption process for months and even years. It's neither quick nor easy, contrary to what you may have heard.

    We as a society are so quick to assume autonomous control over our fertility, and then are shocked when we can't conceive simply by the sheer force of our will. Hence the moral mess of invitro... but that's another post entirely.

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  6. To address your second post, IronDog, how I wish that abortion were a private matter...

    But you see, when one human being takes the life of another, the crime becomes public, its ripple extending out through society at large.

    As soon as the idea of abortion and the "right to choose" ceases to be an idea and becomes an actuality which I perpetrate against an other, it becomes public property. Once my actions affect - or destroy - another person's life, they are no longer private, by any stretch of the word.

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  7. I am not quite sure what state you are in, but in TExas (I am in Dallas crying that the Vikings won) and my CPS people tell me it can be quick to adopt. There are over one hundred kids awaiting adoption (where parental rights are gone) but nobody wants them, including your fellow anti choicers religious wing-nuts. That is less than one child per county, you would think there would be at least one clinic protestor in each county that would do that.

    And it seems your excuses, money and time/bureacracy, are just that. . .false pretenses. Are these kids just not worth it to you? Are these kids lives less important then your comfort level? Your excuses are the same, exactly the same, as those who terminate the pregnacies.

    I do not believe that if you are willing to adopt a down syndrome or 12 year old minority psychiatric case with multiple personality disorder or some other multiple morbidities than the state will put you on fast track. And if you are willing to come to TExas, I will help you with my CPS contacts. I will not hold my breath or bet my mortgage payment that I will hear from you. BTW, I do not want to hear of touch feely anecdotes of others adotion stories, I only want to hear yours. Or none at all.

    Since adoption is too difficult for you, how about fostering? That is quick and easy as there are never enough foster care families, at least in Texas.

    It seems to me that you all in the fetus loving no birth control birth at all costs crowd really do not live it. Why is it that PETA types are willing to conform their lifestyles to their rhetoric? How sad that cats and dogs are more important to them than people are to you.

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  8. IronDog--

    I am a fully pro-life, NFP-advocating young woman, and I am very eager for the day when I can adopt children who are in the system! The children who no one else wants to adopt. The reason I am not currently doing this is because my husband is not yet in my life...And I want to give those children the best family life possible. I feel it would be selfish at this point to adopt a child, since I would not be able to offer them the best they could have. A father and a mother who have a strong marriage and who love each other very much, and will love them. Parents who are willing to help them and ride the waves through their issues and love them no matter what. I cannot wait to see the day when abortion and child abuse no longer exist and every child is a member of a loving family.

    Sincerely,
    Lee

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  9. Irondog's comments are a great illustration of the disconnect between sex and procreation that you mention in the post, Jenny. This view demands that the procreative nature of sex be excluded from the way we think about sex, as if being able to control our fertility and reproduction changes the reality that sex is fundamentally designed for the creation of new life. Those who insist on this view are unable to distinguish the distinctly different moral character of the call to adoption and the call to give birth to one's biological children. I think this explains Irondog's charge of hypocrisy.

    It's great to see you back online -I'm looking forward to reading more about your journey into marriage - it really is a wonderful vocation.

    Anniebird

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  10. "It seems to me that inquiring about procreation is a lot less bold than the overt sexual topics otherwise included in this site. We are all adults here and obviously intellectually curious people."
    IronDog, I did not say that we shouldn't discuss sexual topics, and to misconstrue my comment as such reveals that you apparently did not read and understand Jenny's post. I was referring to the inquiries of random strangers into her sex life and other intimate family decisions. Do you not realize you did exactly that in your original comment?

    You say your friends in PETA actually live the rhetoric: "They are willing so conform their lifestyle to their rhetoric unlike most of your crowd." But your friend Jenny *is* living her Catholic rhetoric by refusing to contracept. She didn't say she wouldn't be open to adoption in her original post, she said she would be open to bearing children. It isn't an either/or proposition. I hope I am not putting words in her mouth, but I suspect she would agree with you that more Catholics ought to conform their lifestyles to their rhetoric. Why the double standard for "your fellow anti choicers religious wing-nuts"? You mean we aren't perfect? We could have told you as much.

    Similarly, you call money no excuse for couples wishing to adopt but without sufficient funds. What do you suggest they do? I'm asking this as a serious question, not just as rhetoric. If you have a solution or alternative that would be potentially helpful information.

    Oh, and fostering is "quick and easy"? Sir, you discredit yourself by such remarks. You have good points buried beneath your prejudices, generalizations, and anger. You are right in that pro-lifers need to do more, though I do not claim to know the inner motives and circumstances of other families (as you seem to, oddly enough).

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  11. Hello! I like your article. It is interesting that for all people, there is little mystery about "getting pregnant". I know some intellegent people love to say just how darn fertile they are and they weren't planning on a baby, but "oops". I really think these comments are dumb. This is another enclave of people who want to have several children but are embarassed bout it, like "we are so mainstream and part of the culture, but darn it if we are just arn't the most fertile people in the world", as if they are a strange breed of human that ovulates for 30 out of 30 days. So they say "oops", like they are not reasonably intellegent people who know that sex can lead to pregnancy.

    Also - I think it is important not to be too shocked by dumb comments -I don't think there has been a magical time where the general public went around saying appropriate things to one another. And it is just going to get worse, when you have kids, if you have many kids, if someone is sick, so brace yourself. It is a good opportunity to witness, if you are prepared.

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  12. I wonder what leads to most children becoming orphans in the United States? I would guess that most of them had parents who didn't- for whatever reason (whether their decision or by the evil of others) did not have the good fortune of having their child in a committed, life-long relationship. If everyone would conform to the simple rule of "death do us part" and saving sex (and babies) for marrriage the number of orphans would decrease GREATLY. So, in her own way already, Jenny (and everyone else out there in the same shoes) is helping reduce the number of orphans through their personal responsibility and faith.

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