Most people aren’t discussing motherhood in college.
During my engagement to Joshua, I worked as a resident advisor in a dorm at Texas Tech.
You work with a lot of diverse people when you’re employed by student housing on a large college campus. And I remember one time, while I was in the RA room between rounds on my shift, a female coworker asked me:
“Do you want to have fifteen kids?”
Now, I’m not going to lie, she was under the influence of alcohol. Having just returned from a perfectly legal night out with some friends, she had reached that nice point of “relaxed-tipsy” without being obviously drunk.
Knowing that, I simply answered, “I’m not opposed to it! But we’ll see.”
Many among the staff knew that I was both engaged and Catholic. Though I hadn’t made a big deal of these things, people had found out just from my honest answers to their questions. In this case, I knew that most of my coworker’s question had gone unasked.
She wasn’t just asking if I wanted a big family. She really wanted to know:
“Don’t you see motherhood as a threat to your career?”
“Do you really trust this guy you’re marrying to not leave you?”
“How are you not going to have fifteen kids without using contraception?”
Questions like these had grown familiar. That year, a lot of my coworkers had asked similar questions about my wedding and relationship. I realize now that many of them wanted to be planning their perfect weddings too and were eager to understand the joy of being engaged. But they also didn’t have anyone in their lives they could imagine trusting or loving enough to marry.
Well, I am very proud to say that because I was open about being Catholic, they all believed that Joshua and I were waiting for marriage and wanted plenty of kids. I am truly grateful that, even in our fallen world, just identifying as a Catholic still carries the reputation of being a kid-loving-virgin.
But I do wish that I had been even more open about my values.
No, okay, I don’t particularly want fifteen children (though I would happily accept that many if God blessed us that way). But as far as actively trying to have fifteen, I don’t think we’re going to attempt that. Looking back at the conversation with my coworker, I wish I had had the courage to better explain what Catholics believe about NFP. I wish I had told her that Catholics usually have lots of kids not because we “can’t use contraception” but because we fall so in love with God’s procreative and unitive design for marriage!
No, I don’t see motherhood as a threat to my career, my happiness, or my life.
But I wish I had been braver about explaining why. I wish I had told those girls what I believe about the beauty of motherhood, the value of raising a family, and how nothing is lost when you choose babies over promotions—how actually, everything is found.
I wish I had been able to read into the questions about my fiancé and could have given those girls an even better testament to the wonderful man that Joshua is. They needed to hear that demanding respect for yourself means you’ll stay vigilant until you find a good man who respects you even more.
I wish I could go back and tell all those girls not to give up. To wait, be patient, and know that they don’t have to give their bodies away just to feel connected to a man. To understand that children will not ruin their lives.
If you still have this chance, you can be an example to the women around you who are hurting, waiting, and looking for true beauty in their lives. Don’t shy away like I did.