Yesterday was Epiphany, marking the end (at least in a liturgical sense) of the Christmas season, and the return of 'Real Life' after the time of celebration and feasting. And oh, yes. . . Real Life is most definitely upon us. . .
I've written here, and in my previous blog, about my grandchild(ren), 1F's 'birth-daughter' (just recently turned 8 years old) and her adoptive siblings. And of how God, true to His Word, has indeed 'worked everything out for the good'.
You have probably also noticed that, since roughly a year ago or so, the frequency of my posts here has become considerably less. There are a variety of reasons for that, mainly subsumed under the heading of 'Real Life Hath Its Demands'.
And so it came to pass, late last spring, that one such Demand made itself known. 6F took Jen aside and told her that she, 6F, just barely turned 18, and not yet, at the time, graduated from high school, was pregnant.
You want to think that the younger kids, especially the girls, were paying attention when 1F was going through her own pregnancy. But. . . perhaps not. I don't know what it's like for women, exactly, but I know that most guys (and young guys most especially), faced with the immediate availability of sex, aren't so clear-headed as to say, "Wait. . . you could get pregnant. . ." or, "But we aren't married yet. . ." Maybe in my grandmother's day, but not just lately. (And perhaps the size of my own family will attest to my own uh, shortcomings as pertaining to self-control. . .) And, even so, the generation of a new human life loses none of its sacred wonder for the circumstances being, shall we say, somewhat sub-optimal.
6F's boyfriend is, on the whole, a solid kid, responsible, hard-working, etc. (by which I mean he's diligent, frugal and focused; the question of keeping wicks dry is a separate matter). We have thought that, if it should happen that way, we wouldn't have any serious objections to the two of them marrying. In, oh, say, five years, when they're both more, uh, grown up than they are now, and clearer on the distinction between being married and 'going steady' (though I doubt that anyone calls it that anymore). But this puts a whole new twist on timetables and suchlike, and adds pressure to the marriage (and the family) that they hope to form together.
We will see what we will see, of course, but Jen and I are mainly of the mind that, if the two of them can form a stable, loving marriage, that would be best all around, for all three of the principals. So we're basically of the mind that we will do all that we can to help the two of them form such a marriage, if they can. If. . .
So, our second grandchild (at least in biological terms) is on his way.
We had a couple months to digest 6F's news before 3M came to us with the news that his girlfriend was also pregnant. Again, wonderful - another new human life is arising from our gene pool. But again - carts and horses, and all that. . .
3M and his girlfriend have been together for nearly two years, and we had frankly thought that we'd be hearing wedding bells before too awfully much longer. 3M has been doing well on his job, and getting himself 'established' to the point that being a husband and father is not a crazy idea. The two of them want to get married, and almost certainly will. But their relationship has had some, uh, volatile tendencies in the time they've been together, and I worry just the least bit that this will put pressure on them to marry, possibly over their own nagging doubts.
But, you know, as with 6F, we view our role as helping them get to the best possible place together that they can, both for their sake and their unborn child's. . .
So, two grandchildren - our second and third - on the way, without any of our kids being married. But, you know, we could console ourselves to a considerable degree that both couples were on their way to marrying, even if (marriage-prep timetables being what they are in our Catholic diocese) the marriages won't happen until some time after the birth of the child. I'm not terribly concerned with appearances, or 'family honor', or anything like that; all I want is what's best for my own children, and their putative spouses, and the children that they've made together.
And then, a few weeks ago, 2F came to us with the news that she, too, was 'in the family way' (well, except for, you know, the whole 'family' bit). Which came to us, how shall I say? - completely out of left field, since 2F hasn't had a boyfriend, that we know of. Nonetheless, there it was. After a week or two had passed, and we'd had time to digest this latest bit of generational news, Jen asked 2F who the father was; she said she didn't know. And that's about all I'm going to say about that. . .
As you might imagine (or, you might not, I suppose), it's been a bit more challenging to find the silver linings to 2F's pregnancy, once you get past, "How wonderful - a new human life has come into being!" But, as they say, it is what it is. . .
It is an exceedingly fine line that we find ourselves walking, between, "we love you and we support you, and we're here for you," and, "this isn't how we raised you to behave; we're really not 'just-OK-with-it'." There is more than a trivial likelihood that any or all of my children, and their respective children, will have their lives go less well in the long run for being pregnant out-of-wedlock now. I have no desire to engage in an 'I-told-you-so-fest', either now or in the future. But I worry.
And, honestly, it's hard for me not to take it, on some deep, existential level, as an indictment of me as their father. "Train up a child in the way he should go," (Proverbs 22:6) and all that. And I'm well-aware of the correlation between young women getting pregnant out-of-wedlock, and their poor relationships with their own fathers. Not a happy thought for me, as I contemplate my own Judgment Day.
To say nothing of the fact that we still have two young sons not-yet-fully formed, ages 15 and 11, for whom this has become the centerpiece of our family's life these days. How must our admonitions to chastity and moral faithfulness look to them, when their own beloved elder siblings have tacitly demonstrated that Mom-and-Dad's moral teachings are not to be taken seriously?
So, I suppose we could use your prayers. We are genuinely happy, and just as genuinely perplexed. Walking such fine lines can be exhausting. And the fact that such a key component of our parental message to our kids has manifestly gone unheeded, if not outright ignored, is heartbreaking. But then we knew that. . .