For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Perhaps I have finally discovered a label to describe myself – a pro-life feminist. At first glance these two terms seem to oppose each other, but true feminism is not the antithesis of motherhood or a pro-life stance. Contrary to standard stereotypes, one is pro-woman precisely when one is pro-life. My story is simply a witness of a woman who discovered a liberation as a mother of a large family.
I am a conundrum, because I am a joyful mother of nine children. I am vilified by modern environmentalists as well as ‘feminist’ career women, and of course beatified by the religious right at the same time. Most people of all persuasions, expect me to appear haggard and filled with regret or unfulfilled dreams
For example, when a journalist interviewed me for an article on Mother’s Day a few years ago for our city’s major paper, she asked me if I ever regretted not using my degree to pursue a career. I simply stared at her in shock, for a few moments, my mind blank. “No”, I finally replied, “ the thought never entered my mind”. It was then the journalist’s turn to stare at me in shock for a few minutes.
I realize that I surprise people when they first meet me; their eyebrows shoot up, their mouths drop open, and they sputter,
”You had nine children?”
This is because I am 5’ 1” and weigh 108 pounds. I was pregnant or nursing for eighteen years without a break. Even though I’ve lived through ten pregnancies, I am healthy, remain quite articulate, and have a quirky sense of humour. This challenges the typical image of a woman of a large family as a grim battleaxe, efficiently marshaling her young charges with little time to coddle the poor, deprived dears. Surprisingly, I discovered fulfillment precisely as a mother of a large family.
By all outward appearances, I’m an old-fashioned sort of woman, a stay-at-home mother who raised her children on a small family farm, supposedly the antithesis of a feminist. Embracing such an outdated lifestyle has meant struggling with confusion, guilt, and a perceived sense of public disapproval.
Of course, not everyone can stay at home these days with their kids. Not everyone is called to mother a large family, but every woman should understand the tragedy of abortion. I have witnessed the life destroying effects of abortion on friends who have struggled to move past grief and guilt for decades after; abortion destroys not only the life of the unborn, but has unforeseen repercussions in the life of the mother. The effects are even more far-reaching, because abortion is an injustice that affects all of society.
I don’t have all the answers. What would I have done if my thirteen-year-old had become pregnant? Yet, I do know that life does begin at conception. I simply wish to express that motherhood is a feminist career and abortion is not pro-women.
Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese? You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit.