Pretty much every year in high school and most of college, I went to the March for Life. Since graduation, however, I've been less actively involved in the pro-life movement, outside of the occasional prayer vigil at an abortion clinic (though I haven't done that since before getting pregnant with Chief). Of course, having a family and not shying away from bringing our children out in public is one way of living a witness to the culture of life, but it's high time we got active in our activism once again.
The stars happened to align such that all three (well, four) of us could attend this year's March for Life- and I think this year it was more important than ever to show up in person and remind our elected officials that we're going to hold them accountable to the values they claim to have. So on Friday, we bundled ourselves up and headed down to our parish to catch the bus into DC.
During the week, we prepared our three-year-old by telling her she wouldn't be going to daycare on Friday and that instead, we'd be going to church to pray and then ride on a bus. (Buses are a big deal right now- the big kids at daycare take a bus to school and she wants to ride a school bus more than anything.) We made it to church for the tail end of holy hour (she'd be more of a distraction than a participant in a quiet hour of prayer without the Catholic aerobics and musical interludes of Mass) where I pulled out her big wooden rosary and showed her how to use it to pray. We loaded the stroller into the cargo compartment on the bus and boarded for the quick ride.
Before we started the (very quick) highway rosary, Chief asked us where we were going on the bus. We told her that we were going to save the babies- we told her that some people don't know how special babies are, so we needed to tell them. She agreed that babies are special- that she loves the baby in Mommy's belly and will take care of that baby when he or she gets here- so we asked if she could tell everybody else, and she responded with a very sincere, "Sure!" Then she listened to the whole bus say the rosary, and participated in the Our Father every time it came around.
As to the actual March, I knew I'd be comfortable bringing her to this one as opposed to other demonstrations that go on in this town. People defending the rights of the unborn are never crude or vulgar, and there's never rioting or violence. The counter-protesters normally are only allowed at the end of the route and are always too small in number to hurt anybody or even be heard over all the praying. (Although there was an interesting breed of counter-protester along the route this year- radical evangelicals who were protesting neither for or against abortion, but protesting the Catholic Church itself which seemed a little counter-productive in this context.) Chief napped as we walked past the graphic images, thankfully- although I do believe that the best way to defeat abortion is to show the world what it actually looks like, I think three is too young to be exposed to it.
When we got back on the bus to head back to the parish, Chief looked at the people putting away their signs and climbing back on to the other buses.
"Did we save the babies?" she asked thoughtfully.
"Yes, Baby, I think we did," Mr Geek replied.
"Does everybody know that babies are special now?"
"They sure do. You did a great job."
We teach our pro-life values by showing our daughter how to love and respect all people because everyone was created in the image and likeness of God. But the older she gets, I think it's important to show her how to speak for those who can't speak for themselves, and to appreciate this great nation she lives in, whose laws are written and the behest of its people and not just its leader.
Have you ever been to the March for Life? How do you talk to your kids about the sanctity of human life?