As I have been studying this whole patriocentricity movement, I keep asking myself this question:
What EFFECT does having one baby after another have on the mother?
Often called Quiverfull or the Quiverfull movement, it is becoming more prevalent lately, particularly among homeschooling families.
I well remember our “first round” of kids: My husband had two already, I had one, and we had one together. That was 4 kids under the age of 6. I remember cluster nursing while taming two year old tempers and trying to get dinner on the table while assisting with math homework and battling mastitis. When we adopted the boys (we got each one as a newborn) and had the chance “to do it all over again”, the first round kids ranged between 6-12. It was easier the second time, of course, but we remembered living in survival mode…. When we discussed raising the bigger ones, we remembered just trying to get through another day. So I asked myself, how in the world would having six kids under 7 (or 10 kids under 12?) affect the mother?
Physical and emotional exhaustion, as this Newsweek online article, Extreme Motherhood, has this to say:
“…what’s problematic about Quiverfull for many is the position the movement relegates women to on its way there. Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff, a former Quiverfull writer who left the movement, says that the lifestyle is frequently one of unrelenting duty and labor that leaves women little recourse if the demands of their lives prove too much to bear. “The Quiverfull movement holds up as examples men like the Duggars … all men of means.
But for every family like this, there are ten or fifty or one hundred Quiverfull families living in what most would consider to be poverty … Mothers are in a constant cycle, often, of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the care of toddlers.” Women are expected to feed and care for a large family on what are frequently limited resources, and the strain leads some to suffer clinical levels of exhaustion and self-neglect. The work that mothers can’t manage usually falls to their eldest daughters, who learn early that their role in life is domestic, as helpmeets to their parents and later their husbands, and as mothers to many children.”
The end of a mother’s sanity, as well as excommunication from the movement if the marriage ends. An interesting article at Women’s Space addresses the Andrea Yates case, among others: The Truth About Full-Quiver Families
“The full quiver people never talk about the victims of the movement, other than to distance themselves, to explain how it is that the victims are aberrations. They don’t talk about women like Andrea Yates and her children. Yates stoned her kids in her back yard, then drowned them, believing she was a terrible mother and that her children would be better off with God than with her. ”
“And above all, they don’t talk about the way the lives of so many, many women in that movement have been all but destroyed– women with 5, 7, 9, 11 or more children, women who lived sometimes for decades with abusive men who were then excommunicated, lost everything they had, when they divorced their abusers.”
Life-threatening complications with pregnancies are often considered just one of the risks, and the patriarchy-pushers insist that the women must have more faith and continue to reproduce, as this Salon.com article, All God’s Children, explains:
“Indeed, Mary Pride referred to her mothers as “maternal missionaries.”
Garrison (woman the article is about) complied. She’d had her first three children by cesarean section, but after coming to the Quiverfull conviction, she was swayed by the movement’s emphasis on natural (even unassisted home) birth. During one delivery, she suffered a partial uterine rupture and “felt like I’d been in a major battle with Satan, and he’d just about left me dead.” The doctor who treated Garrison lectured her for an hour not to conceive again, but she felt that stopping on her own would be rebellion. When she turned to her leaders for inspiration, she received a bleak message: that if she died doing her maternal duty, God would care for her family. For six months, she couldn’t look at the baby without crying.”
And that is the sad, sad part of this whole thing. A woman should never feel like crying when she looks at her baby. Children ARE a gift from God, but no where in the Bible does it say Thou must reproduce until your body is depleted and your mind has turned to mush. No where!