When I was in high school I took a class called LIFE SKILLS which didn't teach me any actual skills used in life. Instead it pounded into my head one single steller piece of advice, advice that promised to protect me from all probable crisis or calamity.
If you're having sex, ALWAYS USE A CONDOM.
This entered my brain as gospel and I pitied the poor fools, UNSKILLED in LIFE, who had thrown away their futures on illness or babies. So tragically ignorant! I, on the other hand, passed the LIFE SKILLS final exam. I think by promising to always use a condom.
Actual sex, I assumed, would be a test with easy answers.
Fast forward fifteen years, the better part of them married. If my children ask me about sex now the first thing I'll say is "Well....."
If you want to have sex and conceive a child then great! Your married and it's moral and God blesses your love with a spark of life!
If you want to have sex and NOT get pregnant, then I dunno. It's complicated.
Because the truth about birth control is it's made out of trade-offs. Hormones make you sick. Lesser hormones don't work. Or the hormones that work aren't kosher once you're breastfeeding, and breastfeeding maybe works on its own but maybe not. You have a friend, okay TWO friends who got really really blessed that way, and of course it worked out because their children are the best of friends, but still and all if you want to lean towards the control end of birth control and less towards the birth end it's maybe a good idea to do something stronger.
Turns out condoms are not as exciting in person as they were in theory when sex was mysterious and naturally shrouded in something opaque.
Plus spermicide might be a neurotoxin. Which means you definitely shouldn't put it in a dish and shove it up your whoo-ha.
There are other options that are painful for just one member of the couple. Whether pregnancy and childbirth are painful for just one member of a couple remains debatable.
My brain is so tired of running in circles I asked Dan in all seriousness, "Do married woman even have a right to enjoy sex? Do we have a right to control our own fertility? Or am I just expecting too much?"
He gave me a look like, "Who are you??? And what happened to the hussy I married?"
This morning I woke up and looked at sleeping Elijah, the perfect sleeping angel with the softest skin, and I thought: Every sex act should be copulative. Anything else is heresy.
Then I got into the shower and within ten seconds there was a knock at the door.
"Mama?" said Harvey, "Can I come in the shower with you?"
Good God, I thought. The sex is so short and the angels stick around for oh so very much longer.
I saw a mother of three at the doctor's office today. 2, 4, and 6 or something thereabouts. They were all very good, and not acting up, but herding them through reception was still a major undertaking. I thought: Oh God, my life is going to get HARDER. The little one is going to one day start WALKING.
The rational part of my brain says: Wise mothers shut it down for a season. You can always have it taken out. Don't be ruled by fictitious scruples or baseless emotions.
But the part of my brain that drank too much coffee before my appointment and interprets physical pain as a moral failing being punished, that part sat on the grass after I got the IUD implanted and cried, "I am killing all my future babies!"
I wish I had better life skills.
I wish I had the skills to make tough choices and own them. To really take agency over my own life. To defend my decisions without a hint of doubt. I wish I had skills to separate reason and emotion. The only thing I can say is "Well....."