My husband and I are seven years in and we still can't tell what our friends and family really think of our birth control-free lifestyle.
Well, that's not totally true, I can sort of tell. I suspect that most either expect us to ditch the whole Natural Family Planning thing any day now or they pretty much assume that I'm probably pregnant. As in pregnant right now and every time they see me and all of the time.
But they are true friends which means at least they won't unfriend me on Facebook. I think.
They probably also wonder what my husband and I think of them. The answer: yeah we're totally judgmental jerks. Only, we so aren't.
We don't sit there "tsking" away at their acceptance of contraception or their sins, because then, as sinners we'd be hypocrites.
But he and I (mostly me) are NFP enthusiasts. To a fault. This is common knowledge amongst all our friends who tolerate it and us even if they aren't one hundred percent sure what NFP is. To them, NFP means only one thing anyway: no birth control. They know Jon doesn't wear anything and I don't alter my self in any way to be intimate with him. I suppose I just hope that they wonder what that's like (but not in graphic detail).
What I mean is: I hope that they wonder what it's like to live without birth control. Have my husband and I emulated the ideal NFP couple? Pfft. No way. But it's normal life to us and frankly, neither of us would have it any other way.
So what are contraception-free Skittles really like? Well...
Life without birth control is actually when, at one point in the month, your husband has never been more attractive than any man on earth has ever been in that moment. Once the "take me take me take me" feelings subside you then move onto the "meh" portion of the month. The sex is still really nice but the rush and the adrenaline are gone during this time. Mostly. In any case you remember how tired your million kids (sorry I just had to say it) make you and sleep trumps sex most nights.
Until the next month when the sexiness comes back, that is. Notice, I made no mention of taking temperatures, or keeping your charts organized and applying various rules etc. etc. Naw. When something becomes a part of your life, you get pretty good at it. NFP is like that too.
I know this account of life without birth control is over simplified for some. Where's the monthly epic battle against all vices? Where is the abacus to record the spiritual dolors that come with periodic abstinence? Where's the gilt framed picture of the scared hearts of Jesus and Mary gazing creepily in the direction of your marriage bed? This must be what most people think of when they meet a Catholic who doesn't use birth control!
Life without birth control is simply or not so simply this: it's life minus barriers and chemicals when you have sex. Period. Sounds great, right? And it is! So why aren't people lining up to hear more about it?
Once again, as an enthusiast, when I go to assuage their fears and clear up any misconceptions they have, I might actually be doing more harm than good in promoting NFP in lofty terms to someone. Believe me I have tried, both with acquaintances and in large parish group settings. "Need help conceiving? Call me!", "You're engaged? If you ever want to hear my NFP talk, let me know!" I can almost hear them tossing the NFP idea out of their minds as they glance around to my zillion kids bouncing off the walls.
My "My NFP is Better Than Your Birth Control" bumper sticker most likely isn't helping me either.
About the kids. We have three. I know for some that's like saying three thousand, and the laundry pile makes it feel that way, but it's not. It's three. And you know what? We probably aren't done and that is normal too.
Plus we all know that as a good Catholic couple, my husband and I only care about making babies and not actually caring for them when they are here. Just this morning I remember thinking, "Time for a new one!" as I threw an unsheathed banana in the direction of my eighteenth month old's cage. Hey, at least I refill his water feeder from time to time.
Life without birth control, in short, is still normal life, just perhaps a bit sexier at a high point each month, way more organic, and yes, doable even for dummy like me. But if none of that even remotely appeals to you, don't worry, the next time you want to have sex, I am sure there is an exciting pharmacy with a pimply teenager waiting to ring you up near you!