The older I get and the bigger my family becomes, the more deeply I need other faith-filled moms.
When I first became a mother, I lived eight hours from family while my husband worked on his Ph.D. He was as present as possible while working toward that goal, but most of my days were spent alone, facing the challenge of keeping a baby alive and thriving for the first time in my life. Phone calls to my mother were mostly tear fests, me sobbing about the usual loss of sleep and tedium of the first year in a newborn’s life. I was happy to be a mom, but I felt so isolated that the sadness often overcame the joy.
Parents suffering the loss of a child through stillbirth need the support of their family, friends, and parishes. Here are some ways you can help.
I gave birth to a stillborn baby boy. It was a profound, wild grief which too quickly had to be restrained, contained, eventually smothered. I had left the hospital empty-handed, in a daze, and simply gone back to my flat. —Reflection from a grieving mother
The church needs a better pastoral response toward women and families who experience miscarriage and stillbirth.
When Katherine Brown experienced the stillbirth of her first child, Grace, during her 27th week of pregnancy, she struggled with the lack of support from her parish priest and faith community. Like many Catholic women confronting miscarriage and other forms of pregnancy loss for the first time, she was uncertain of what parish and faith resources were available to her and her family. “There was no guidance from our parish about how to handle this,” she recalls.
Parents should talk to their kids about sex and sexuality long before adolescence.
I was behind and I didn’t even know it. Despite considering myself a progressive, open parent, I took our 3-year-old son to his annual doctor’s checkup only to realize I had already missed an important opportunity to educate him. After asking my son to disrobe, his pediatrician said, “I’m going to look at your private parts, but it’s okay because I’m your doctor and your mommy and daddy are here.” My son barely paid attention, but I realized that somewhere between baby proofing and the ABCs, I had forgotten to teach my son about who is allowed to look at his privates.
When we bathed our son in holy water, our whole family was immersed in a holy community.
My son turned 2 this summer, and over the past year he has expressed a keen interest in church. And when I say that he has expressed an interest, I really mean that he has started to lead our little family on a journey of faith that I had never before imagined for us. It started with his pointing out crosses. Sans serif, lower-case t’s demand his attention (and ours), as do graphicly hip plus signs, ornate crucifixes, and the simple stone crosses on the church we drive past every day to and from his daycare.
The November feasts of All Saints and All Souls invite a long, loving look at those who have gone before us.
Life in a college town may be full of diversity, but it also has a shallow root system where faces and friendships come and go with the university calendar. Parish life and programs need to catch on quickly, and, just like with a grass fire, when you get a good idea, you stand back and watch it grow.
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