This past year, I saw this meme that my best friend put up on social media. I am so happy for her and I’m so glad that she let me be a part of her life. She let me share in her family life, and her children, now grown, are still precious to me. She’s now a grandma, and I am so happy for her – and it was so sweet to see her kids play aunt and uncle.
Another friend of mine has been overjoyed with her adult children, is about to become a grandma, and she is so thankful for and proud of her daughters. She shared a card that her daughter sent to her, and my heart was just so happy for her. And it’s so significant to me because the parenting she received was lacking in so many ways. Lots of neglect. Lots of abuse. I think she also takes joy in watching her daughters conquer their corners of the world and expresses that joy so freely. (It’s something that seems so foreign to me from my own experience as a daughter.)
I think that people must think I’m half nuts because sometimes I gush a bit about how happy I am for them. It means so much to me that they have something so good and real and honest with their kids. And I think that it means that I’ve had a lot of healing. I don’t get so sad anyore, lamenting that I don’t share that kind of joy of mutual acceptance and mutual pride with my mom. I’m happy that others have it. They should! And it’s taken me a long time to be okay with going “no contact” with my parents and family while having no children of my own.
When I hear parents relate to their children this way and express love and pride without dysfunction, it almost feels like I get showered with the cool and cleansing overflow of their happiness, and mine joins with them. And it’s even greater for me in a way because it’s absent from my life – both as a daughter and a mother. I have a greater appreciation for it.
When I expressed myself in a would-be art project last Mother’s Day, I am amazed at how liberating it was. (Find it HERE along with resources at the bottom of the page about weathering the day when it’s more painful than pleasurable for you. I’ll note them here again, too.)
Revisiting the Cruelty of Quiverfull
It’s been a rough journey living as an evangelical in the midst of the Quiverfull craze. I’m the same age as Michelle Duggar and spent my prim childbearing time around those who embraced their spiritual leader, Bill Gothard. I know of moms who have been trapped by this bizarre social experiment in cloistering kids away to protect them – both first and second generations of them. I once referred to we who were enticed by the social movement as “crash test dummes” for people who created a brand to make a lot of money. Some did well while it lasted, and their faithful followers can still be found.
A woman that I knew that had almost a dozen kids told a mutual friend that she thought that I had the best life. She was amazingly healthy, save for obstetrical and gynecological issues owing to so many pregnancies, and she didn’t realize that chronic illness played a major factor in why I didn’t have kids to start with. But she understood something of the pain I suffered. She knew that you need at least three kids to be considered reasonable, but half a dozen is better. To be considered truly godly, you had to have ten.
Richard: I never had children either. The whole narrative behind that is a tragic besetting horror from the past I have to live with. But as Dido said .. “it’s not so bad, it’s not so bad …”
A Mom of Two: I wanted a whole pile of children, as you well know. QF is painful if you cannot fulfill that wish.
Me: I remember talking to a friend back in 2008 about my inclining age and how if I’d managed to eek one out, I might not be such an outcast. (You don’t have to go to a QF church to get snubbed and judged. There’s some of it in our general society, too.)
I had a moment of realization that I could pop out a couple and I still wouldn’t be acceptable. One would definitely not do it even though that would be unlikely, considering that I haven’t had a pregnancy since ’96.
A Mom of Two: I was introduced by my fully QF friend at church with 12 kids as her ‘semi-heathen friend with only two kids’ once. My theology was the same as hers at that moment but I was perceived as sinful because I could not literally bear more children.
Me: So you had that “moment” of realization, too? I mean, I know that I was anathema, but there’s a moment in time when you realize that there is no way no how that you can be really acceptable to them.
A Mom of Two: Yeah, it was eye opening considering it was right in the middle of me helping her so much with a major life change that affected their whole large family. I worked hard to help her.
Me: Yeah. Nothing you can do except die so that some other more worthy younger breeder can adopt your kids into a better family. And for a time, adoption was anathema.
A Mom of Two: Yeah, didn’t some preachers say that adoption was taking on other peoples demons?
Me: Lots of people, but Bill Gothard made it a scary sin cootie issue and said you were adopting the child’s generational curses. So adoption was like voodoo to them. I don’t know how you can be a Christian at all and not find adoption to be one of the sweetest rites known to all people, especially Christians.
Cindy is a member of the Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network.
Cynthia Mullen Kunsman is a nurse (BSN), naturopath (ND) and seminary graduate (MMin) with a wide variety of training and over 20 years of clinical experience. She has used her training in Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a lecturer and liaison to professional scientific and medical groups, in both academic and traditional clinical healthcare settings. She also completed additional studies in the field of thought reform, hypnotherapy for pain management, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that is often associated with cultic group involvement. Her nursing experience ranges from intensive care, the training of critical care nurses, hospice care, case management and quality management, though she currently limits her practice to forensic medical record review and evaluation. Most of her current professional efforts concern the study of manipulative and coercive evangelical Christian groups and the recovery process from both thought reform and PTSD.
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