Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Sad Part Again

Some of you have mentioned this before: it's not the fear of never having a husband. It's the fear of  never having children.

That's a real, respectable fear.

But it's also a pre-Christian fear because after Pentecost, having children was no longer the be-all and end-all of a woman's existence. Christians began to seriously question whether or not marriage and reproduction should be anywhere as central to human life after the Incarnation as it had been before.

St. Augustine was among the theologians who argued for the goodness of Christian marriage, and the goodness of ongoing reproduction. However, at least one of his arguments was that Christian reproduction was great because it produced more Christian virgins. St. Augustine was in no doubt that the highest form of Christian life was a life of perpetual celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom.

Not a single early Christian theologian argued that Christian marriage was a great way to have as much sexual enjoyment as possible without catching a disease. Carnal enjoyment was just not  on the the theologians' list of priorities. On the contrary, they ordered men not to treat their wives like prostitutes. And, indeed, throughout the ages Christian men have accorded their wives respect just for being their wives and the mothers of their children. If the wives lost interest in sex (or the husbands were jerks), the husbands often found mistresses. Until the 20th century, they usually didn't just divorce their wives so they could give their mistresses promotions.

(No, men ought not to have mistresses. However, I think that may have been better than the current system of revolving door marriages. I'm working on this line of thought, and it is subject to correction.)

Marriage was primarily for children, and goodness but didn't Bishop LeFebvre throw a fit when it looked as though the Second Vatican Council was redefining marriage in a way that made children the number two priority and "unity" number one. And before the Council, Saint Edith Stein was much more interested in the motherhood aspect of marriage than she was in the "unitive" aspect. Indeed, if I remember this correctly, she thought the ideal relationship was that of mother and child, epitomized by the relationship of Our Lady and the Lord Jesus.

Saint Edith Stein did not have children herself, of course, although on her way to Auschwitz, she took care of similarly imprisoned children, washing them, and dressing them and combing their hair, for their real mothers were too terrorized to do it. (I always cry when I read that part.) Saint Edith Stein was one of the most accomplished woman thinkers of her generation, but when push came to shove, the most important thing she could do was care for and comfort other women's children.

I find that very comforting because, dear readers, a doctor just called me back with the results of my blood tests. To sum up and quote a Deepa Mehta film a the same time, "No eggs, madam."

And I turned down horrible Frankensteinian experimentation IVF yet again.

I don't trust a system that kills thousands of unborn human beings and mistreats quite a number of born ones, too, so I am most definitely going to be getting a second opinion. But at the same time, I am 42, so chances are that the second, third and fourth opinions are going to be identical to the first. And this means that, more than ever,  I will have to fight for the principle  of spiritual motherhood, not only for unmarried women, but for married women in my situation.

It's funny. The new "perfect" mother seems to be the Yummy Mummy. You know--the woman who has children and yet remains a sexy glamour queen. She looks like a fertility goddess, like Venus, surrounded by cherubs. And Venus is so sexy that she even has a somewhat wonky relationship with Cupid and gets tremendously envious of little Psyche. And thus Venus is completely antithetical to spiritual motherhood. Could anyone ever be a Yummy Spiritual Mummy? No.

I doubt it. And that makes me sad. There is something so awful about sterile sexuality, but on the other hand sexless motherhood seems awful too. It makes me feel like I'm a grandmother without ever having been a mother. I'm not ready to relate to men like a grandma yet. I don't want to be old. But an overattachment to youth, beauty, sexuality and all of that is not the Christian way, is it?  And we must stay rooted in reality, even when reality really hurts.

Update: A serious comfort: my own mother is still alive, so I could call her up.

Update 2: And B.A. has been great.

32 comments:

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

I'm sorry, Seraphic. I don't have any wise words, and I haven't "been there," so anything I could say would ring hollow. I can only imagine it is disappointing and painful, and you have my sincere sympathy and prayers.

Anonymous said...

A decade of the Rosary for your intentions tonight Seraphic. I'm so sorry that you are having these troubles.

Sinéad

Seraphic said...

Thank you! I am having one heck of a June, that's for sure. However, I live in hope that everything will all make sense in the end. As long as we don't go against God's will, we should all be okay. The worst kind of emotional suffering is self-inflicted, because then you have guilt all mixed up with the disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Seraphic - I'm a long time reader, rare commenter. Thank you for what you do. I am what you call a 'Serious Single'. I'm sorry for what you are going through... it must be real tough to accept.
This month has been difficult for me too and mostly because I just can't understand what is going on. And so I hope and pray for you that it will indeed 'all make sense in the end'.
Sending prayers for perseverance to stick to His will in spite of all else.

Rosemary

Jam said...

Oh, how sad. I will pray that God gives you every consolation you need.

Seraphic said...

Thank you! It IS sad, but sadness and suffering are a part of human life. There are wonderful, good and fun things, too, of course, but they are not the whole of life.

It's very consoling to think that I didn't DO anything to become infertile (if I really am). It just happened as part of the natural aging process.

Andrea said...

Dear Mrs. Seraphic,
Prayers for you and you hubby! May God grant you strength and consolation.

I know a woman who was married in her early 40s to a wonderful Catholic man. They were not able to have children, but they decided to adopt two beautiful little girls from China. The girls have slight disabilities and actually speak different dialects from each other. I think it would be so beautiful to be able to bring a soul into a loving, Catholic family life.

You've already been such a wonderful spiritual mother through this blog. And I'm sure you will be able to meet all the "children" you've helped through this blog in Heaven. :)

Anonymous said...

As I learn more about your story, Seraphic, I am amazed at your bravery and perseverance. Your plan of life is so special - I can't even exactly tell you why I admire you so much, but God is good to so many people through you, and I hope that I can be as graceful under fire as you are when it comes to these trials and persecutions. God bless you!

Girl with the yellow hat said...

Sending prayers . . .

philologia said...

Much love, Auntie S.

Lydia Cubbedge said...

I'm so sorry, Seraphic. Many prayers and love.

Kate P said...

I'm sorry; praying for you. (I'd throw a hug in there if you like that too.)

Jackie said...

(((((Seraphic)))))

Seraphic, my thoughts and prayers are with you. And my admiration for your character continues to increase.

You have done so much with your blog and writing -- and have kept me on the straight and narrow path more often than I would like to mention! Your trust in God and faith is incredibly inspirational. Thank you for being such a wonderful example for us.

Much peace to you.

Mena said...

Oh, I'm so sorry - I can't even begin to imagine how hard this must be for you. However, just as you're not giving up entirely yet, neither will I (or, I imagine, many of your other readers). Miracles and their lesser cousins, surprises, do happen. Prayers will continue; whatever the outcome, they won't be wasted.
And you're right, the greatest suffering is self-inflicted, when we strive against God's will; but then, He did also say to keep asking, seeking, and knocking.
Whatever happens, it will all make sense someday. As Mother Angelica said, "Faith is one foot on the ground, one in the air, and a queasy feeling in the stomach" - it's not easy.

Mena said...

Ugh, I feel like I just threw a lot of platitudes out there, and they're probably not terribly helpful at the moment. Sorry.
But I will be praying for you.

Jenna St. Hilaire said...

Speaking as one of those women for whom the principle of spiritual motherhood is of high consequence: thank you for writing so openly.

You have my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry that you've had to endure this. I was praying that it would work out for you in the end. I expect it isn't yet impossible but of course the pain of disappointed hope is one of the most difficult aspects of this situation.

Best wishes from

Alias Clio

lauren said...

Dear Auntie S, you have my sympathy, love, and prayers.

Sheila said...

Hugs, and thanks for mothering all of us all this time. Your spiritual children will praise you in the gates.

One of my favorite Bible verses is this: "More numerous is the children of the deserted wife than of her who has a husband, says the Lord." And I think that was a beginning of the notion of spiritual motherhood which we all praise so much today.

Pearlmusic said...

Seraphic, You ARE young. And God's perfect plan for you will unravel soon, we all believe that!

Seraphic said...

Thank you, everyone.

Katerina said...

Very, very much love and many prayers for you.

MaryJane said...

I'm so, so sorry to hear this. It must feel unbearably sad, especially on the heels of all the upheaval over the blog. You have my utmost respect for blogging the way you do, with honesty and prudence: a tough line to walk! but you do it so well. It sounds weird to say this, but thanks for sharing your struggles with us and constantly reminding us to be rooted in reality, no matter how painful it may be. Thankfully, we know there exists more profound reality of "spiritual motherhood," which you live so well! Today's morning prayer psalm struck me: "the barren wife shall bear seven sons..."

Still, the emotional grief must be terrible - you are in my prayers!

Roadkill Rhapsody said...

I can't imagine what you must be feeling. I'm so sorry, Seraphic. You have my prayers.

KimP said...

Dear Seraphic, I am praying for you and BA, and wish I had some words that could ease the pain of wanting something so badly, but not being able to have it. Clearly God has a plan here, but I've got no insight as to what it is. So prayer it is . . .

Domestic Diva said...

You most assuredly have my prayers, Seraphic. Thank you for all the good you do through this blog and your ministry to singles. I can't tell you how much you've done for me and my single friends.

urszula said...

Prayers from me too! An extra decade of the Rosary. Thank you for all the spiritual mothering you do for us and the other 99 percent who read but don't comment.

Mustard Seed said...

I'm sorry about the news, Seraphic. I wish I could say something that would ease your pain. I'll be praying for you and BA.

Seraphic said...

Thank you all very much. I feel much better today. I'm glad the blog means so much to so many people. That is a terrific comfort in itself.

Andrea said...

This is SO TRUE: "The worst kind of emotional suffering is self-inflicted, because then you have guilt all mixed up with the disappointment."

I am currently experiencing that. Adding you to my prayers. Adding also my thanks here for what you do.

Rosemary said...

I'm very sorry, Auntie! I'll be praying for you.

Beth said...

Sending prayers your way, Seraphic.