Little Bernadette has a new favorite saying, one we have started to hear at every mealtime, bedtime, during every car ride, potty break, moment of organized play and especially when I’m trying to get her dressed.
“I can’t want that.”
She huffs, looks at what I am offering, shakes her little head and says, “No mom. I can’t want that.”
In that little phrase is so much. The petulance of a child, the stubbornness of a 2 year old and the belief that one’s wants are absolute.
I have every faith that Bernadette will out grow this phrase, and with any luck a host of other behaviors, but every time I hear this combination of words slip between her lips I’m shaken a little, reminded of this world I’ve brought my children into–a world of the wanted and the unwanted.
These ‘unwanted’ have certainly been in the news and in our Facebook news-feeds lately. The unwanted being those lost through abortion, those reduced to the emotionless category of “unwanted pregnancies”. I honestly can’t stomach watching the Planned Parenthood videos released in recent days–even reading the descriptions and discussions is physically repulsive for me. As it should be.
But, even without the horror of late-term, live birth, reductive abortions, the ugliness of ‘unwanted’ lives remains.
While scrolling Facebook I happened upon this article where a Minnesota mother of 4 callously explains why she decided to abort a recent pregnancy, even after suffering with infertility to the point of using IVF to conceive a few of her other children. In the most disturbing passage she likens babies to Snicker’s bars, explaining that sometimes you’ve just had enough.
This article drew so starkly the line that runs right down the center of our world–and in this case a family. The line between ‘Wanted’ and ‘Unwanted’–children that parents wanted and children that parents did not want.
It is easy to judge this woman, who is clearly an extreme example, but this is the world I have brought my children into–these are the lies they will face. They will be asked to believe that they need only figure out what they want. In their own wanting or not wanting they will have what they are led to believe is ‘their truth’…whatever that is.
In fact, they will be asked to believe that there is no truth, only want.
The whole pro-life/pro-choice debate can be boiled down to one simple issue–the issue of wanting. Those on the Pro-Choice side argue that lump of cells is only a life…if it is wanted.
Through this, wanting has become the highest service we can do someone. Conversely, if someone or something is not wanted it has no value and really has no right to exist at all. When something is unwanted it is garbage, ripped from a mother’s womb, covered up, rationalized away and forgotten. But, who cares? After all, we didn’t want it anyway.
The issue of wanting or not-wanting does not end with the pregnancy. It haunts us in every corner of our lives until we are so confused that we begin to see Loving and Wanting as the same thing.
This lie, that wanting is loving, is so seductive and tempting, even for us staunching against things like abortion. Why shouldn’t I always be pleased? Why should I have to deal with anything that I don’t want? Why would I every be asked to love something that I don’t want?
Loving and wanting are objectively quite different. Love is other focused and refers to willing what is best for another. Want, on the other hand, is directed inward. Wanting is the desire to possess or do something.
Do you see the difference there?
Sure, I can want all sorts of things that I love. I love my husband (want what is best for him) and very often I also want (desire) him. On the other hand, I can’t love a Snicker’s Bar (what exactly would be best for a Snicker’s bar?) but I certainly can want (desire) one.
They are totally different concepts! Replacing Love with Want gives us the ability to put ourselves first, dismiss other’s needs and even reduce others (inside the womb and out) to non-humans all because we interfere with our wants.
And for this reason I refuse to teach my children that they were ‘wanted’.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids, am fiercely protective of them and miss them almost immediately once we are separated (which is almost never). I always wanted (had the desire) to be a mother, I love being one and I cherish these years with little children, even though they are difficult and exhausting at times.
But, I want my children to know that they are LOVED, not just WANTED. I would even go as far as to say that although I always, without exception, love my children, I don’t always want them. The carefree life of a single person looks pretty dang appealing sometimes. But because I truly love my kids and will the best for them I stay put and continue to answer questions and build Lego towers and steam broccoli and clean the floor. Every day. Without fail.
Right now the kids are small but there will come a day when they will leave my house and have to navigate this world divided into ‘wanted’ and ‘unwanted’. There are consequences for all of the lives lost to abortion. There has to be.
We choose not to terminate our pregnancies, we welcomed our babies, but every day babies are destroyed through abortion. Every day. Every hour. We are told that those lives were ‘unwanted’, and teaching my children that they belong to the class of ‘wanted’ simply perpetuates this evil.
And I refuse to participate in a culture that takes only what it wants, happy to discard the rest.
Life is a beautiful thing. Like all of you, I’m sure, I have a couple of memories burned into me from those little one’s I’ve carried in my womb–the positive pregnancy tests, the first kick, the ultrasound, watching my husband weep over his newborn son–these are the experiences of those that have witness the miracle of life.
And life is a miracle, whether it is wanted or not–in fact wanting has nothing to do with the goodness of life. Nothing at all. Life is good, all on it’s own.
It occurred to me a while ago that everyone is pro-their own life. No one wants to die. No one of sound mind wishes their mother had terminated their life while still in her womb. No one wishes that they had been ‘unwanted’. When given the choice, we choose life for ourselves, every time. We choose to be wanted.
Being pro-life means choosing love over want. Being pro-life means looking beyond what I want, what my life desires are. Being pro-life means protecting those that can’t make their own choice like we can.
Being pro-life means refusing to divide this world into the 2 classes of ‘wanted’ and ‘unwanted’. It means teaching my children that they are loved, not wanted, and hoping that they take that message out into the world.
Because my children are going to change this world. And so are yours.