I've been deeply moved lately by the number of times I've heard young wives--both secular and Christian--speak along these lines: "My husband and I are going to wait another 3 or so years before having a baby, until I've finished X and had a chance to do a little Y. And my husband doesn't want a baby until we're in our 30s anyway, although he'll be a wonderful dad someday. But if we got pregnant of course we'd be happy and we'd go with it. Actually, I'd probably go through the motions and cry for a day when I found out and when we were telling everyone, and then I'd flip out and be so thrilled, and we'd just re-plan our lives around a new little bundle of joy. Then it would basically be an 'accident' that we got pregnant so nobody could scoff at me."
What a beautiful sentiment and interior longing expressed. But sad as well. Women's liberation and cultural expectations that we inherited from our mothers' generation have done us a disservice in this regard. We're young and in love and newly married, and we feel a strong drive to begin the high adventure (as the "G" family wonderfully put it in their Christmas letter) of parenthood in our youth, with our beloved young spouse, while we're energetic and passionately in love. But it's been so impressed upon us as women that we're selling ourselves short to become mothers right away. So without really understanding, we follow the abstract cultural norm of "waiting a while"... but with the deep down feeling that it would be the happiest "accident" of a lifetime if a baby should come along.
Thank God for the Catholic Church, for its steadfast teaching on openness to children. What a comfort to know that God's will is for my husband and me to happily, eagerly follow that deep longing for children, and to be so encouraged in this by the Church. We're called to abandon ourselves to His plan for our family, so that the norm is openness to children from Day One of our marriage, and the exceptions are the times of spacing between babies. That's true freedom! The planning isn't on our shoulders, because what a burden it must be to carry the responsibility of planning your family the "wait a few years" way. We don't have to make excuses for our natural longing for a child or speak of it as an "accident" to protect ourselves. Instead, our Church assures us that parenthood is our primary path to sanctity, so that we can imagine the saints and angels rejoicing with each new annuciation in our family.