I Am An Angry Mom: A Response to “No More Angry Mothers”

A few days before Mother’s Day, an article was published on Huffington Post entitled, “No More Angry Mothers; Embracing Accessible Abortion and Affordable Contraception” Basically, she decries a whole generation of women who didn’t have access to contraception and abortion. She characterizes them as miserable and lacking freedom. She trumpets the grand (and failed) solutions of contraception and abortion. I have two questions for her:

  1. Is a little anger really a bad thing?
  2. Are these really the solution?

I am an angry mother. My son was unplanned. I had to completely rewrite my career plans when he came into our lives. I never in a million years thought I would ever be a stay-at-home mom.

But isn’t a little anger a good thing. As another pro-choice feminist once said:

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Change hurts, especially when that change runs counter to our plans. But it is through the hurt that we grow. The change makes us better people. My little change brought me to my position at Feminists for Life. It has given me the opportunity to chase my childhood dream of writing. He has taught me patience, endurance, living for the moment and enjoying the little things. Anger allows us to grow and is usually a good indication of where we need to grow the most.

I’m sure the article comes from a place of pain from being called by her mother “her final mistake” and seeing the vocation of motherhood vilified in her childhood home. However, even now, 50% of the children who survive the womb were unplanned. I think that our silence about that is a sin. We’re all worried about our kids being labeled as unwanted and ourselves being labeled as irresponsible. Instead of being worried about our own self-image, we need to be worried about our children’s classmates who will never see the light of day. I would bet everything I own that for every woman entering an abortion clinic today, there is at least one mother in the world that was in her exact shoes and chose life. We need to shout our stories from the rooftops so these women know they are not alone.

My name is Bethanie Ryan and I had an unplanned pregnancy a month into my marriage while I was still in collegeMy son wasn’t planned by me, but, more importantly, he was planned by God (fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it). 

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Abortion and contraception aren’t the solutions to lack of community support, poverty, abuse, and the disrepute of motherhood. A woman who has an abortion is still going back to her previous impoverished, abused, lonely existence. A woman who pops a pill doesn’t learn to understand and respect the cycles of her body.

We need to learn the art of being neighbors. This is all the more important in an economy that seems hell-bent on tearing families apart as people travel to find work.

We need real solutions to poverty. No woman should have to choose between a job or education and her child.

We need to be more aware of abuse in our communities and make substantial steps to protect abuse victims.

The vocation of motherhood has rightfully been taken down from it’s pedestal as the end-all and be-all of womankind. No woman should be held as less than for not having children. Motherhood, however, does deserve a better place. There are few fish to fry bigger than creating and nurturing the next generation. “Smart”? Many stay-at-home moms are college-educated like me.

The current solutions of contraception and abortion lead to nothing more than more pills and more abortions. We need to look for real solutions to the pains of unplanned pregnancy, not quick fixes that don’t actually fix anything. And those solutions are certainly the last thing anyone needs to be celebrating on Mother’s Day.

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Mothering from Scratch: A Review

newMFScoverIf you want a step-by-step manual on how to raise perfect kids, this isn’t the right book for you.

If you want a book that offers encouragement and general Biblical principals to raise your kids in a way that is appropriate for you and their unique personalities, get this book!

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You may have noticed I always come back from road trips with a long list of book reviews. My husband usually drives and I use those 18 hours to read. This was one of the books I read on my way to Missouri this Christmas and it was worth every mile.

Melinda Means and Kathy Helgemo took their wisdom gained from years of motherhood, mentoring other moms, and blogging at Motheringfromscratch.com to construct a rich, short book full of great advice and relatable stories. When you are reading it, it is exactly like they are sitting at your kitchen table, chatting with you. They are completely transparent and vulnerable sharing those stories that none of us want to talk about. That inherently encourages you to, at least, be transparent with yourself and with God.

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This book is ideal for group study. It’s good for all moms, but I would most recommend it to first-time moms with young kids, especially those who are isolated like me.

As a Catholic blogger, I need to give a small disclaimer. While there is nothing in this book that is anti-Catholic (one of the authors is an adult convert to the Catholic Church), the overall thrust of the book is very evangelical Christian in tone.

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I received a copy of this book from the authors in exchange for an honest review. Mothering from Scratch is now available from all major book sellers and (as of noon on 1/27/15) is about to sell out on Amazon. Stay tuned because in a couple weeks I will be writing about this book again and will giving away a free copy!

 

Vote! Your voice matters!

This is just a friendly reminder that today is election day and you should vote! 

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It’s also St. Charles Borromeo’s feast day. He would want you to vote, too. This Catholic Reformation saint would want you to pray and vote what is right, not what is popular. He struggled against the grain the entire time he served as Bishop and made plenty of enemies. But only one Person’s opinion counts, God’s!

Women’s Equality?

I do want to make a quick comment about the ballot. Governor Cuomo and some other Democrats made the “Women’s Equality” party here in New York. They did it so that their names would appear on the ballot a few more times and to falsely advertise their views.

I want to make it clear that I am not supporting or putting down any particular major party. Neither of the two biggest parties in the US (Democrat or Republican) truly works in line with the priorities and values of the Catholic Church.

This “Women’s Equality” party however, is just one big lie. Cuomo’s ten point plan is full of good and valuable things like support for victims of domestic violence and tougher penalties for discrimination against women. It has one big issue however: It does strengthen and expand abortion. Already, more black children are aborted than born in New York City. This tells me that the answer is not expanding abortion but asking “why are so many dark-skinned women drawn to it? How are we failing them?” The first nine points would have passed and become law a year ago, but the “Women’s Equality” party demanded all-or-nothing. They don’t care about “Women’s Equality”! All they care about is the pro-abortion lobby!

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Bethanie Ryan writing here as an individual, not as a representative of JPII Center: Personally, I’m not going to vote for anyone who claims to be part of the so-called “Women’s Equality” party. This is kinda painful for me as a self-identified pro-life Democrat. But abortion does not make women equal. Abortion is a sign that our society is failing women and their children.

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7 Quick Takes: Why Halloween Rocks!

Don’t tell Pope Francis, but my favorite holiday is Halloween.

Except for the horrible, indisputable fact that I only get to see my family at Christmastime, Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. Why? I’m going to give you 5 reasons and 2 more neat things.

— 1 —

Candy!

Chocolate

I like chocolate. I don’t like the sugary fake fruit flavored stuff. And I don’t like all chocolate either. I really don’t like crunch bars.

It’s a good thing really that the majority of the chocolate my two-year-old has gotten so far this year has been crunch bars because 1) I don’t get the opportunity to eat even worse than I already have been and 2) he gets to keep his chocolate.

By the way, I think it’s hereditary. James is already a chocolate addict,  although unlike his mom he likes the fake chocolate flavor of tootsie rolls (yuck).

— 2 —

Dressing up! I love dressing up and pretending I’m someone or something else for the night.

Past highlights for me include: dressing as Stephen King and the year I went out as the night sky. My Stephen King costume was almost entirely homemade except for the wig. That year I was responsible for maning the door at my parent’s house. Some of the parents who came to our door with their little ones recognized who I was going for and that was fun.

The year I went as the night sky I was a sophomore in college. I took my dark blue bedsheet and bought glow in the dark star stickers to put all over it. Of course, I then wore it to the party at the Catholic Newman Center. Everyone thought I was going for Our Lady of Guadalupe. Oh well.

This year, the initial intention was to go as grey-scale, like I just walked out of a black and white movie, but my makeup skills are not that great so it’ll probably come across as some sort of ghost.

— 3 —

Speaking of which, Ghost Stories! My husband and I are fans of the show Ghost Hunters on SyFy. I think we’ve both seen every episode.My dad was once obsessed with this stuff so I’ve seen an episode or two of all of the copycats,  but none are as good as the original.

Of course, in my pre-Christian life, I tried to contact the dead. I was a witch for crying out loud, except without the nose wort.

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And I wasn’t green.

 

Now, as a Catholic, I have struggled to reconcile my interest in ghosts and my faith. One of the conclusions I’ve come to is that of place memories. That’s the idea that when a really traumatic event occurs or a lot of suffering, it kind of imprints itself on a place. Think about it, most hauntings are at locations that have seen a lot of suffering or seem to be connected to one horrible event like a murder or suicide. However, this theory doesn’t account for so-called “intelligent” hauntings. Maybe some events are imprinted deep enough to seem “intelligent”?

I believe the Catholic stance on this is much like the Catholic stance on aliens. You can believe in it all you want as long as it doesn’t turn into an idol. And don’t try to communicate with the dead. And definitely be aware that the devil and his minions exist and can mimic hauntings.

— 4 —

I guess that takes us somewhat smoothly into our next one. Death!

I think the world would be a better place if we all thought about it more often. Maybe we’d be kinder to each other,  keeping in mind that we will someday be judged. Maybe we would waste less time in trivial things, remembering that our time is short. We will all spend a lot more time dead than alive. We have been proceeded in death by billions of others.

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Just to lighten things up a bit.

 

I’m not as comfortable with it as I once was. It’s been years since I’ve seen someone die, although in the course of my 29 years, I’ve seen more than most Americans my age. I guess I’ve been out of the game too long and, as the parent of a young child, I have a lot more to worry about than just me.

— 5 —

As a parent, I now get to Revisit Childhood in all of the holidays, including Halloween. I remember when my son finally understood what was going on last year. His eyes got really big and he started to walk quicker, knowing all he had to do was be cute and hold up his bucket and he’d get candy. This year we’re working on the “trick or treat” and the “thank you.” Any advice on that front would be appreciated.

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Lil Bit at Malloween last year.

— 6 —

As I was brainstorming other cool things about Halloween, I uncovered this really (mostly) neat list of 40 creepy two-sentence stories. Some highlights:

I woke up to hear knocking on glass. At first, I though it was the window until I heard it come from the mirror again.

 

There was a picture in my phone of me sleeping. I live alone.

 

The funeral attendees never came out of the catacombs. Something locked the crypt door from the inside.

— 7 —

Important fact about Halloween: You know it means All Hallows Eve, right? It has deep Catholic roots and has historically been a target of anti-Catholic bigotry. So, stick it to the anti-Catholics, get dressed up, and get some candy! To learn more, check out this informative article from Word on Fire.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wise Words from Gloria Steinem

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Yes, I’m sharing a quote from pro-abortion feminist Gloria Steinem on my pro-life blog. Everyone is a human being. I am a firm believer that people are not evil, but what they do certainly can be. So there.

But enough justifying myself. I thought of this quote last night when I once again heard about a pro-life speaker being subjected to rude, hateful, and sometimes just strange abuse from pro-choicers.

Why are some pro-choicers so angry? Heck, why are some pro-lifers so angry? I know pro-choicers don’t have the monopoly on the crazy.

I have an idea. Maybe we’re all so angry at the situation. Pro-lifers are angry that over 3,000 children are killed daily. They are angry to be screaming in a world that they don’t think cares and whose values are so completely warped.

Pro-choicers are angry because women are forced into the decision. Also, they aren’t stupid, they know that what is being killed is at least a potential life (I know it’s more than that, but for the sake of argument). They just feel that some sort of autonomy trumps life.

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Then they hear a speaker like Feminists for Life President, Serrin Foster. Here is a woman who hears the cries of the impoverished women waiting for abortions, who wants to “systematically eliminate the root causes that drive women to abortion.” She’s not the stereotypical religious nut, she makes sense and she’s on the woman’s side.

No one wants to change. In a day with On Demand Cable, blogs for every political niche, and I-pod plug-ins in every car, no one needs to, much less wants to, hear something they don’t want to hear. That is the root cause of all of today’s ills. We talk about each other more than we talk to each other.

And, yes, hearing the truth or hearing someone else’s perspective can and will initially piss you off. But you will be a better person for it.

 

Woman Saint of the Week: St. Monica

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St. Monica became one of my favorites when I got engaged and even more so later when I discovered I’d be the first housewife in my family since my grandmothers had young children. This was all before I discovered some controversy surrounding her.

St. Monica loved her son. She dedicated her life to praying for his conversion to Christianity. St. Augustine also loved his mother dearly and mentioned her often in his writings. We know through St. Augustine’s writings that St. Monica was likely a victim of what we would call today domestic violence and spousal abuse.

This isn’t the controversy. The controversy is how St. Monica and St. Augustine responded to the abuse and how Christians have responded to abuse through the centuries.

[Monica] was thus nurtured in an atmosphere of purity and temperance, and was subjected by you [God] to the authority of her parents rather than by them to yours. When she attained full marriageable age she was entrusted to a husband; she served him as her lord, but she made it her business to win him for you by preaching you to him through her way of life, for by her conduct you made her beautiful in her husband’s eyes, as a person to be respected, loved and admired.

 

So gently did she put up with his marital infidelities that no quarrel ever broke out between them on this score, for she looked to you to show him mercy, knowing that once he came to believe he would become chaste.

 

Although he was outstandingly generous, he was also hot-tempered, but she learned to offer him no resistance, by deed or even by word, when he was angry; she would wait for a favorable moment, when she saw that his mood had changed and he was calm again, and then explain her action, in case he had given way to wrath without due consideration.

 

There were plenty of women married to husbands of gentler temper whose faces were badly disfigured by traces of blows, who while gossiping together would complain about their husbands’ behavior; but she checked their talk, reminding them in what seemed to be a joking vein but with serious import that from the time they had heard their marriage contracts read out they had been in duty bound to consider these as legal documents which made slaves of them. In consequence they ought to keep their subservient status in mind and not defy their masters.

 

These other wives knew what a violent husband she had to put up with, and were amazed that there had never been any rumor of Patricius striking his wife, nor the least evidence of its happening, nor even a day’s domestic strife between the two of them; and in friendly talk they sought an explanation. My mother would then instruct them in this plan of hers that I have outlined. Those who followed it found out its worth and were happy; those who did not continued to be bullied and battered. (Confessions, Book IX, #9, 19, Boulding translation) – as edited by WIT

Let me summarize what you just read. St. Monica was a meek woman. Her husband cheated on her and lost his temper over stupid stuff, and she just put up with it. When women talked about the abuse they were suffering at home, she advised them to just put up with it and it would get better.

Some people are concerned about her following as a saint. Her coping mechanism is the last thing anyone would suggest today. We’d want to free her and her friends from their situations. We’d want to see all of those “men” in jail. We’d want to launch massive PSA campaigns to change the culture of martial violence in the late Roman Empire. We’d save the world, because, hey, that’s what we do.

But here, St. Augustine is praising his mother for being a good Christian example for her husband and her wisdom in figuring out how not to get beaten as badly as the neighbors. The unfortunate truth is that for centuries Christian clergy of all stripes have advised women in abusive relationships to stay.

As recently as the 1980s, a significant percentage of pastors would not advise an abused woman to leave, but to humbly submit to their husbands. Granted, it was only in 1993 that marital rape became a crime in all 50 states.

While we would never want a woman to behave as St. Monica did, I still think that St. Monica is a valuable patron saint for victims of domestic violence. She should not be set as an example of how to respond. It is valuable, however, to have a heavenly friend who knows exactly what you’re going through. That is what the communion of saints is all about. As the body of Christ, we are to support one another in prayer and action.

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Now, I would like to leave you with some practical resources:

For victims

For Abusers (I was only able to find resources in the UK for them. We need similar programs in the US. Abusers are people too.)

For Catholic priests and clergy of similar traditions

For all religious leaders

For teachers who want to cover this topic

Depression and Suicide

Hello, we will continue with our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow with a post about the “Women Against Feminism” movement, but tonight I want to say something else briefly.

Depression is real. It is not something you get over. It’s not something to ignore. I’m speaking as someone who has battled depression since I was a teenager. Sometimes it is a challenge to get out of bed. Depression is a mental illness that can effect everything in your life, although to the outside world it can appear as if nothing is wrong. Earlier today, we learned of the apparent suicide of a comedy legend.

If you or someone near you is considering suicide, there is help. I know that when you’re in the depths of depression, it’s hard to imagine that anyone cares about you or that anyone could possibly understand. That is not reality, that is the mental illness talking. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK.

Warning signs for suicide include the following. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss or change. Also, someone who has attempted suicide in the past is at a much higher risk of trying again.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.
  • Preoccupation with death.
  • Suddenly happier, calmer.
  • Loss of interest in things one cares about.
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
  • Making arrangements; setting one’s affairs in order.
  • Giving things away, such as prized possessions.

A suicidal person urgently needs to see a doctor or mental health professional.

If you are suffering from depression, see a medical professional. There are tons of different medications and therapy styles out there that can help you.

O Christ Jesus,
when all is darkness
and we feel our weakness and helplessness,
give us the sense of Your presence,
Your love, and Your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
in Your protecting love
and strengthening power,
so that nothing may frighten or worry us,
for, living close to You,
we shall see Your hand,
Your purpose, Your will through all things.

 

-St. Ignatius of Loyola

List of warning signs taken from SAVE.