My husband and I had our first real experience of socializing Catholic style this weekend when we met up with Mr. and Mrs. Darwin at the DarwinCatholic world headquarters for dinner. We had fascinating conversations about the benefits of getting a classical education, the pursuit of truth, Church history, the latest news in the Wall Street Journal, and tons of other topics over homemade pizza and a bottle of good wine. Their little girls ran in and out of the room, occasionally jumping up to see who could sit on my lap first or to tell me breathlessly about some exciting project they did with their mom recently. The house is painted with beautiful, bold colors, the bookshelves filled with scholarly books, and the air filled with happy screams and giggles. My husband and I were trying to describe the atmosphere on the way home and all we could come up with is that it was so wonderfully…full of life.
At one point during dinner we remarked that, both of us being only children, this was a very different experience for us. Our dinners growing up were mostly silent, with the occasional question like “How was your day?” heard over the quiet clinking of forks on plates.
As soon as she heard this a look of genuine pity crossed Mrs. Darwin’s face and she said, “That’s so sad!” I realized when she said that just how much I agree. Which is not to say that during my childhood our quiet, three-person household struck me as lacking anything; it only seems kind of sad and vacant in retrospect now that I see the alternative, the households like that of the Darwins and other Catholic families I’ve met that are practically exploding with warmth and life.
I suppose it’s necessary to throw out the disclaimer that I’m not proposing that all big families are happy and warm, that it always works out as well as it’s seemed to for the Darwins and the other Catholic families I now know. I only write this post to say that, having experienced it both ways, I literally shutter to think that just a few years ago I was certain I wanted just one child — if I had kids at all. And, once again, giving Church teaching the benefit of the doubt has really paid off. I always bristled at their “oppressive” ideas about contraception and openness to life, especially the horrible burden it supposedly put on women. But, yet again, I find myself thanking God that I opened my mind to the beauty and wisdom of Catholic teaching.
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