The Olympics is starting to wind down as we enter the final week and so much emotion and history has happened in such a short amount of time! One interview that caught our eye was with beach volleyball champion Kerri Walsh Jennings. With three gold medals under her belt, she talked about the credit she gives her kids and being a mother to her success, stating, “I was born to have babies and play volleyball.” In this interview she gushes about her kids and family as any mom would; this mom just happens to be an Olympian. She also shares her career and family goals: “I want to win a fourth gold medal; I would love to have a fourth baby.”
Yet many who saw this interview weren’t impressed. Instead of seeing Walsh Jennings as an inspirational mother who goes for the gold on the court and in motherhood, many seemed to take exception to the spotlight Walsh Jennings gave to her motherhood.
Now I am all for true feminism, but this backlash portrayed motherhood as some sort of weakness that Olympians, or anyone for that matter, shouldn’t own up to. Motherhood takes an incredible amount of strength and is the embodiment of female empowerment—which I thought was supposed to be what feminism is all about. We seemed to have jumped from the one extreme of believing that women’s only purpose and contribution in this world should be motherhood, to the other extreme that puts the desire to be a mother in a decidedly “anti-feminist” light. Let’s find some middle ground!
There’s nothing wrong with admitting an open-to-life attitude while being an Olympian! But for some, that doesn’t fly if you’re a woman. I mean, how cute is Michael Phelps with his son, Boomer, and his thoughts on being a father in his retirement? His baby-before-marriage situation notwithstanding, I haven’t noticed any backlash about Phelps’ comments on loving being a dad and retiring in order to focus on it.
Being open-to-life is not something that should be hidden, and it’s good to see it more and more from people in the limelight.
Actress Blake Lively announced in June that she is pregnant with her second child, and she’s not shy to share that her and husband, Ryan Reynolds, want a big family. She mentions, “I’m one of five kids. My husband is one of four, so we’re officially breeders.” Lively’s thoughts on the importance of family and how being a part of one is what binds us all together is such a refreshing view of parenthood, especially among millennials who typically consider only having one of each gender, or simply none at all. I’m convinced that because young people today are provided with so many options and “solutions” to prevent children that it keeps them from developing an open-to-life mentality.
At CCL we hear often that using NFP helped couples change their thinking on family size. Many say it is that monthly conversation and practicing the beauty of NFP that makes them so much more open to life. While Catholic families have always had the reputation of having a large number of children (my mom was one of five and my dad one of nine), for those who practice NFP that usually doesn’t mean the method doesn’t work; it more likely that the couples have become more open the idea of more children.
Catholic families often need to receive some support for their choices, and it’s refreshing to see celebrities like Lively and Walsh Jennings are not afraid to share their desire to have a bigger family in a society where that is usually taboo.
— Megan Imwalle