In my prior post, I shared that there had been a question that I had been wrestling with for over a year that I finally got an answer to, and that is what led to being able to go to confession and truly resolve to sin no more.
I remember it clearly, sitting in Fr. D's office, newly pregnant, trying to figure out the mess that was my life and he asked me "What must Sugarbeet sacrifice?" as we were talking about my and R's living situation and Fr. D was asking if we could not live together. And in good spiritual direction, the questions are posed to the directee, Church Teaching is offered, but the decision is left to the directee...it is not, nor should it be, a 'you must do this' type of relationship. Free will is respected.
I left Fr. D's office so angry that day. Angry that he was suggesting that the best thing for Sugarbeet was for R and I to not live together, and angry that he was suggesting that Sugarbeet had to sacrifice anything. Already my mommabear claws were up in wanting to protect my child from any sort of harm or struggle in life. And also open to considering the question, because any other time I had left his office angry with him, the results had been so fruitful. I trusted that this too, would be fruitful, I just couldn't imagine how.
Every fiber of my being screamed to me that Sugarbeet growing up with his or her parents not living in the same household was NOT the answer. I had grown up that way, I would NOT pass on that kind of struggle to my child. Nope. Many suggested that it would be a virtuous and heroic thing to sacrifice this; that it would help R and I to discern our relationship, from their perspective, more fully; and many other reasons why we should not live under the same roof.
While my head could acknowledge there was some truth to each point, even it (my head) could not agree that it was the right thing to do. Our Church clearly teaches that children should be raised with both parents when at all possible; social sciences again and again show the importance of a mother and father in the home, raising children together; my own educational background in early childhood development and education was steeped in the importance of both parents being active daily in the raising of the children.
As time went on, my instincts were reinforced in the daily living of life, and parenting our unborn child. As R felt random moves and kicks, and we argued over baby names, and he made sure I ate well, etc. etc., it was clear that this time of pregnancy was equally important for him to bond with Sugarbeet as it was for me.
Yet, the question I didn't want to answer remained. "What must Sugarbeet sacrifice?"
And so, too, did my own weaknesses and sin.
After she was born, and my cycles returned at 3 months postpartum (I didn't know that if your baby sleeps well, despite exclusive breastfeeding, your cycles will likely return - stupid AF), I realized there was even more to it. That the words I'd said so many times of "this is never about one baby, but babies, a family of many" and all of the emotions of infertility came flooding back, and the worries if there would be more and would it be difficult.
It was then, that I started to realize my own resistance to living in continence (abstinence) was partly centered on a desire for more children. As I heard my biological clock still ticking, frightened that infertility is still a part of me (as every test ever underwent and both surgeries showed, it is my body that was infertile), and desiring so much for siblings for Sugarbeet.
But the devil is not stupid. In fact, he is very smart. And as failed cycle after failed cycle happened, he was screaming in my head "you're not conceiving because God is punishing you for your sin"; "you're not conceiving because you do not deserve more children because of your sin" and more. Each cycle, getting progressively worse and worse until one afternoon in late spring when I found myself pouring over Familiaris Consortio by Pope St. John Paul II, seeking in the words a way that R and I could still remain under the same roof and somehow also be able to receive absolution in Confession and return to the Eucharist, because I knew that I could not battle the attacks of the devil on my own, that I needed the fullness of sacramental grace to help me. And as much as I knew that, I also knew that separating Sugarbeat from her father was also not the answer.
And then I found the answer, or rather the answer found me. Words that I had read so many times before professionally; had applied to others relationships, but not been able to apply to my own, seemed to come off the page at me (emphasis mine).
Reconciliation in the Sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they "take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is by abstinence from the acts 'proper to married couples'" ~Familiaris Consortio, #84And as I read those words, words I've read over and over again for many different reasons, the asnwer to Fr. D's question also became clear:
"What must Sugarbeat sacrifice?"
And as I let those words settle on my heart, the tears of the bittersweetness that is the et et, both/and, of life and of the Catholic faith, the tears I've come to recognize as so clearly God's word and hand in my life, became clarity on what had to come next.
And I scheduled my next appointment with Fr. D for later that week. And on May 13, Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and my baptismal anniversary, I was able to return to the Sacrament of Confession. And on Sunday, May 15, Pentecost, the Sacrament of Eucharist.
The longing that I had felt, the constant calling me home, despite my sin, and the confidence that my journey in my own spiritual life to where instead of feeling punished by the cross placed upon me, to where I was able to embrace it and accept it made coming home, once again, the Father welcoming home His prodigal daughter, all helped to prepare me to be able to accept the mercy being offered to me. I was able to accept my new cross, of living in continence and not pursuing a sibling for Sugarbeat, with tears of gratitude for His mercy as I received Eucharist.