John Jalsevac

‘I’m expecting twins - and I feel like I ruined my family’: America’s most charming couple is back

John Jalsevac
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Yup, it’s them again. America’s most charming couple is back in the news.

You remember, don’t you? We were introduced back in May when Albert Garland (a pseudonym), published a piece on Babble with the charming sub-headline: “My wife’s expecting twins — and I’m not happy about it.” 

Things only went downhill from there.

Well, apparently the reaction to Albert’s piece was less than positive (who knew?), and now his wife has stepped forward to tell her side of the story in a follow-up piece on Babble

“Mrs. Albert Garland” patiently explains, in their defense, that she and her husband only ordered one child (they got pregnant through IVF), and it’s really, really unfair that they got two. And just to be perfectly clear, they’re really (really) not happy about it!

“The twins are coming fast, and I don’t feel a sense of joy. Instead, I feel responsible. We only wanted one,” she writes. (Did I mention how charming this couple is?)

She goes on to wonder how much “strain” having two more children will place on her marriage and her older son, and explains that “like any family” they have dreams of “going to Disney, college, etc.” and are worried that now they will need a bigger car and a bigger house. 

“Now, seven months into my pregnancy — and in therapy — I still feel remorse and am terrified of our future,” she writes. “When I chose to plant both embryos, I made a decision that forever impacted our lives, and not necessarily for the better.” (There’s that charm again.) 

"In my mind I had done nothing less than ruin our family," she confesses.

To be fair, Mrs. Garland does paint a picture of a legitimately difficult pregnancy. Carrying twins is a very challenging thing for any mother, and it would take a very remarkable woman not to sometimes get down and a little discouraged during the process. Add onto that the fact that the couple’s first son had colic, and you can begin to understand why the couple may feel daunted at the prospect of twins. 

But what this doesn't excuse is the choice to pen, and then publish in the public forum, a pair of such ridiculous articles. In the trials of their pregnancy, Mr. and Mrs. Garland may be excused for seeking pity and support - but it should be the pity and the support of each other, and of their close family and friends. What they hope to accomplish by airing their purile grievances for the world is unclear, except to re-affirm all of the most pernicious popular fallacies about parenthood.

Indeed, what is so fascinating about this story is that it illustrates, in a nutshell, how just about everything that the modern world teaches us about parenthood, pregnancy and childbirth - all that stuff about “control” and “choice” and “responsible parenthood” and “self-realization” - is absolute rubbish, and, rather than making us free and happy (as promised), leads only to misery and a truly breathtaking narcissism.  

The Garlands have clearly bought hook-line-and-sinker into these lies. They believed (because that’s what they were told) that they could have had absolute control over their reproduction. They thought they could put in an order for a baby, and have it delivered neatly wrapped with a bow on top. They thought they could have exactly what they envisioned as the "perfect" family. 

But that's not how it works. When you get married, when you have sex, when you open yourself up to the possibility of children, you are opening up a Pandora's box. You are opening yourself up to life. And life is not within our control. It is way bigger and more mysterious than our pet plans. Get all the scientists and screening technologies involved that you want. It doesn't matter. The only proper approach to parenthood is to simply open your heart and accept whatever comes as a gratuitious gift from God.

To become a parent is inherently to stretch ourselves. And if we sit back and allow ourselves to be stretched, we will find that our hearts are bigger than we ever knew. But if we hold on to our hearts, and say that they will stretch this much and no more, we only cause ourselves pain. And we will sink into self-pity.

To their credit (and I mean that sincerely), one big difference between the Garlands and millions of other couples around the globe in similar circumstances, is that when the Garlands found out that they were getting a child that they didn’t order, they found that they couldn’t stomach the notion of aborting that unwanted child. And for all of the jaw-dropping one-liners in their infuriating articles, we should at least give them credit for choosing life.

For that, of course, is exactly where all this talk of “control” has brought us – to more than 50 million aborted babies in the United States alone. To some 50 million heartbroken, spiritually scarred, empty-armed mothers and fathers, who believed that they could have their cake and eat it too, and who chose murder when, inconveniently, that didn’t turn out to be true. 

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Love does not seek to control. Love opens its arms and embraces. Love finds a way. By treating our children as a commodity to be bought and sold, when, where, and however we wish, we have closed our hearts to the spontaneity of love. And in so doing we have locked ourselves inside the narrow boxes of our own petty egos and desires.

If the Garlands would simply let go of that illusion of control, which has been hammered into them by the contraceptive, pro-abortion, “planned parenthood,” self-oriented culture, they would find the freedom to embrace their circumstances, to come out of themselves, and to find hope even in their most difficult moments. 

They would see that going to Disneyland is not an important part of being a family; that you don’t need a large house to love three children;  that while pregnancy is difficult, it is a difficulty with immense rewards; and that all of the hardships of parenthood are oriented towards one of the greatest things any human being can ever do – bring new life into the world.

This doesn't mean that pregnancy won't be hard. That having twins won't be hard. But what it does mean is that even within the hardships, they will find their happiness and their joy. 

The most hopeful part of Mrs. Garland's article is the last line: "For anyone who is worried about me and my husband, our son brings us a ton of joy. We are always amazed by how much we love him, and I’m sure this indescribable love will extend to his brothers. But for now, I’m having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."

In the midst of challenges and uncertainty and suffering it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But fortunately for the Garlands, because they had a sufficient moral sense to reject abortion, they will be given the opportunity to see that light - to welcome their two children, and to learn how to love them as the treasures that they undoubtedly are.

And hopefully whenever (if ever) they unintentionally become pregant again, they will have learned their lesson, and won't write any more such ridiculous articles for ridiculous publications.

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Fury took hold of me as I saw the box of Playboy magazines just casually out for display like everything else at the sale. Shutterstock

I was at a garage sale with my toddlers. Then I found THIS in a box.

Melanie Pritchard Melanie Pritchard Follow Melanie
By Melanie Pritchard

One morning when my son was an infant, I took him for an early morning drive to get him out of the house. We had no destination to reach and were casually driving through the neighborhood. I saw a few garage sale signs and I stopped at one that I saw selling a hammock. Oh how I love hammocks!

I got out and asked the woman how much and did a quick scan of what else she had for sale. And what to my wandering eye should appear? PORNOGRAPHY. Fury took hold of me as I saw the box of Playboy magazines just casually out for display like everything else at the sale. PORN—for sale—at a neighborhood garage sale! I guess I assumed there was an unwritten, common sense rule that not selling pornography at a neighborhood garage sale would just be an obvious consideration.

Instead, the homeowners found no shame in sharing their porn addiction with their neighbors. Did they stop to think that these magazines displayed right there out in the open could possibly scandalize the unsuspecting guests in their carport?

“I promise you that the porn industry is looking for your child and if you don’t set up accountability and filtering on your computers, phones, and tablets, it’s not a question of will they, it is a question of when will they or have they already and are they still looking at it.”

As soon as I saw the box, I said to the woman, “I will not buy anything here.” She did not realize my change in tone, so I asked her, “How can you have Playboys at a garage sale? What if the magazines scandalize a small child walking by with their parents?” She said, “Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. This is my guy friend’s garage sale, but I tried to put the ones that were most clothed towards the top.” Clearly since she admitted this to me, there had to be unsettling thoughts stirring in her mind telling her this just isn’t right to expose others to.

I said, “Why don’t you just throw them away.” She said, “They are my friend’s, and he’s selling them because they are old,” suggesting they might be collector’s items. I said, “Listen, you think these have worth because they are old, but they have no worth since they were trash to begin with.” Trying to hold back my fury, I said, “What if some woman’s husband comes to your garage sale and gets tempted by these images.” The discomfort set in for the woman and she went to the box and tried to reorganize. I’m not sure if she got rid of them or attempted to conceal them better, but I didn’t stick around to find out. My final words to her were, “I hope you do the right thing and throw them away.”

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What infuriated me most is that there was a video game chair sitting right next to the box of Playboy magazines. I envisioned a junior high boy going to the garage sale with his mom, and rushing to see how much the chair costs, all the while catching an image of a naked woman.

The unsuspecting boy would go from innocence to experience in a place he and his mother thought was safe. It would be an image he would not forget, an image that may lead to a curiosity that would slowly corrode his mind and heart into thinking and looking at women as objects instead of unrepeatable souls. This could be followed by years of struggling with the fake counterfeit instead of fighting for the dignity of the women in his life. And some day, he might possibly trace his addiction back to the neighbor’s garage sale.

This reminds me of the stories I have heard from many young men who tell me about their struggles with and addictions to pornography. When I ask these men how it all started, they share similar stories of being exposed to porn in the most unlikely places, like the old gas-station, grandpa’s shed, in the alley, or at friend’s house. And, in most recent years, young men who share their stories with me after a chastity talk I give, almost always share that their porn addcition started from their activity on the internet. For many, it was while innocently searching for one thing that they discovered pornography instead.

What more can we do to protect our children from pornography? Especially now in the Internet age when it is merely an accidental click away? Recently, I interviewed my friend and fellow speaker Matt Fradd. Matt overcame his own pornography addiction and has dedicated his life in ministry to help many others conquer theirs. He is the author of the book Delivered and works for Covenant Eyes: Internet Accountability and Filtering Software Company.

In our interview, I asked Matt what the benefits are for parents who want to use this software for their children. “I promise you that the porn industry is looking for your child and if you don’t set up accountability and filtering on your computers, phones, and tablets, it’s not a question of will they, it is a question of when will they or have they already and are they still looking at it,” he said. “Unless you want your child exposed to pornography and likely to become hooked on it since it is quite addictive, then I say you should really get Covenant Eyes.”

As a mom of  four- and a six -year-old, I am doing everything I can to protect my children from porn. Matt opened my eyes to the fact that if the Internet is in my home, then so is pornography, just one click away. Internet accountability and filtering is a must. We spend our money on monthly home and garden magazines, Netflix, apps and other subscriptions. But this kind of software is one of the most valuable safety-nets we can buy for our families. Now that I know it exists, I will be making it a part of my family’s monthly budget and I hope you consider it too.

Matt had this message for parents: “If you give your child an iPhone and you don’t put Covenant Eyes Filtering or Accountability or both on it, then what you have essentially done is given your child a potential x-rated movie theater. Please realize the seriousness of this.”

I make no money or profit in advocating for this type of software. In fact, Matt shared that if a family cannot afford the monthly $9 or $13 fee for Covenant Eyes products, they can apply for a hardship program and get it for free. Let us make no excuse when it comes to the protection and safety of our children and the seriousness of pornography.

I encourage you to listen to this 9-minute interview with Matt Fradd in its entirety to hear about his struggle as well as the details of this helpful software. As a parent, the interview opened my eyes, but also made me feel empowered to be able to do more to protect my family against the harm and dangers of pornography exposure.

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A screenshot from the UK's version of "Sex Box."

TV continues its campaign to ruin sex

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

Go home, TV, you’re drunk.  That’s my only reaction to the announcement that WE tv has picked up a British reality show called Sex Box.

Sex Box is, rather incredibly, not a euphemism for anything.  Rather, it’s exactly what it sounds like.  The talk-show-style setting features a panel of sex experts sitting on a stage in front of a live studio audience.  There is a large, windowless, soundproof gray box behind them.

The box has a door and confessional-style indicator lights: red means a couple's in there, orange means they’re done, and green means … well, I hope it means someone’s in there cleaning the box, because multiple couples use this thing over the course of an hour-long show.

The idea behind the show is that couples – both straight and homosexual, if the UK debut is indicative of the upcoming U.S. version – with relationship issues will enter the box, have sex, then come out and talk about their problems with the “experts.”

Love, devotion, commitment, rules and limitations – these are all good things.  Intriguing things.  Sexy things.  They’re the stuff every good romance is made of. But sex in a box?

If that doesn’t sound awkward and slightly creepy, then I’m not explaining it right.

Here is my main problem with this show, and it’s probably not what you think: I don’t hate Sex Box because I’m a prude.  I hate Sex Box because it is the most boring show I’ve ever seen.

Sex Box manages to take sex – SEX! The amazing connection between a husband and a wife that feels incredible and allows mere human beings to create new life! – and make it seem like the most banal, utilitarian, uncomfortable and depressing thing ever.

Seriously, enough is enough.  Porn has already ruined the sex lives of a generation of men and women by warping their expectations of the marital act. No, Sex Box isn’t porn, but in a way, it might be worse, because when people watch porn, at least they know it’s fake.  Maybe they decide it’s something to aspire to, but there’s still an air of artifice about the whole thing.  It’s fantasy. 

On the contrary, Sex Box is all about being “real.”  But by focusing on the mechanics of various physical acts and sharing depressing statistics about the state of most sexual relationships today, it reduces what should be a sacred, mysterious union of the flesh between a husband and his wife to something much less divine, and certainly less human. The makers of Sex Box seem to think of sex less as a physical expression of love and more as an itch in need of scratching – or a system in need of a tune-up. Gone is the mystery, the sacredness, the spiritual component – to say nothing of the private nature of the act.

The same goes for Dating Naked, the new VH-1 reality show where strangers are dropped off in the nude at a tropical resort and go on dates with a series of other naked strangers, before choosing which one they might like to pursue a relationship with once they put their clothes back on. 

What?  Why would anyone want to do that?

Look, if you’re married (and statistically, for some of you, even if you’re not), you remember the excitement and vulnerability of the first time your body was exposed to the one you love.  For decades, teenagers have even had nicknames for the progressive levels of exposure – First base, second base, third base, and so on.  Whatever your moral code may be when it comes to sex, you have to admit, the thrill of the chase is part of the excitement.

So if you’re dumped naked onto a beach with a half-dozen strangers and assigned to go on dates with them, where is the excitement in that? Yes, it might feel shocking at first, but once the shock wears off, what’s next?  The mystery is gone.

Contestant Joe probably summed it up best during the series’ first episode: “What the hell is going on? It's like you're naked and I'm naked, and I didn't even get to buy you a drink first.”

TV, stop it.  We get it, sex sells.  But there’s more to sex than naked bodies and physical mechanics.  There’s a reason Romeo and Juliet is a beloved classic and Kim Kardashian’s sex tape is not.  It’s the same reason people rooted for Mulder and Scully on The X-Files to get together for the better part of a decade even though they weren’t having sex at all (at least that we knew of). 

Love, devotion, commitment, rules and limitations – these are all good things.  Intriguing things.  Sexy things.  They’re the stuff every good romance is made of. 

But sex in a box?  Random naked bodies on a beach?  That just explains why I don’t have cable.

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Michael Lorsch, the real-life gay stripper hired by Canadian children's charity, Free the Children.

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So, a gay stripper walks into a top children’s charity and asks for a job…

Anthony Esolen Anthony Esolen Follow Anthony
By Anthony Esolen

This week I'm taking a break from my essays on how to form in your children a wholesome moral imagination.  Instead I'd like to engage my readers in a fantasy of decadence.

Let's suppose that a prominent child-oriented charity in a once Christian nation hires somebody to meet with teenagers to encourage them to be “shameless idealists.”  Imagine that the pedagogue is a male stripper for a gay ho-down called Boylesque. 

At the Boylesque webpage, suppose you find a Mountie in a passionate kiss with a lumberjack, who is holding a bottle of beer foaming over. “Imagine your dearest Canadian icons,” say the Boylesque promoters, “stripped down and slathered in maple syrup for your viewing pleasure!”

Free the children? Teach them to blush. It's a good start.

The page features “Ray Gunn,” the Canadian “Mount-Me Police,” a rousing rendition of “O Canada” to make you “stand at attention,” an ad for a Valentine celebration of “debauch” at “our den of iniquity,” somebody named “Bruin Pounder,” somebody else named “Sigourney Beaver,” some stars of a “bisexual-athon,” and so forth. 

Imagine third-rate puns, puerile fascination with the parts down under, dopey titillation, debauchery, and “putting male nudity at center stage where it belongs.”

Now, let's see, what else can we add to this eye-rolling story? Suppose the boy-man who strips at Boylesque at night, after he works with girls and boys during the day, calls himself Mickey D Liscious. Let's give him an absurdly bogus education - a major in Sexuality Studies. Suppose the people who run the charity do more than look demurely aside from Mickey's mooning and lighting. They name him Rookie of the Year.

Now, to complicate the plot, suppose that people catch on to Mr. Liscious' nightly swinging, and complain to the charity. The directors say what cannot possibly be true.  They say they do not “discriminate” on the basis of what their employees do after hours. We presume that although whores and nudie wigglers may be welcome, people who write for conservative magazines would not be welcome, or embezzlers, pickpockets, bookies, loan sharks, dogfight promoters, or peddlers of contraband sealskin. The line has to be drawn somewhere. Prudence is a virtue. After all, we're dealing with boys and girls here. A priest who says, “Men and women are meant for one another, in marriage,” is to be shunned, but not somebody who simulates sex in front of hooting and howling strangers.

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Let's add the icing to the fantasy. We'll call the charity Free the Children, and we'll suppose that Free the Children encourages Mr. Mickey D Liscious to tell teenagers to be “shameless idealists.” 

Of course, everything in this tawdry and silly fantasy is fact. You can't make it up. No one would believe it.

You might suppose that I'd criticize Free the Children for its choice of Cool Child Companion, saying that he is the wrong boy to tell boys and girls to be “shameless idealists.” Mr. Liscious, for his part, believes that what he does at night and what he does during the day are of a piece, greasing the grooves and pistons of change. I take him at his word. He's right, and the directors of Free the Children agree. It's our turn to try to figure out what they mean.

By “idealist,” Mr. Liscious and his promoters do not mean “someone who believes that the immaterial is more real than the material.” Mickey is not giving lectures on Plato's Republic. They also do not mean, colloquially, “someone who believes in a high standard of personal virtue,” since such standards would deprive Boylesque of all those boys who like “a dirty flashmob” and “a Tim Horton's double-double served straight up.” They cannot mean that, because shame is what people with a strong sense of virtue often feel when they behave in a base or cowardly way.

The best they can mean is “unembarrassed promoters of some idea,” some fantasy of perfection upon earth, the Big Rock Candy Mountain, the dictatorship of the proletariat, a “better world,” and other gauzy dreams that earn you points at a beauty contest, while you tilt your head like a poodle and modulate your voice for caring and sharing. 

And all I can say is that the last hundred years have been stuffed to the eyeballs with shameless idealists: shameless ideologues. They had an idea, or an idea had them, and shame on them for it. The more wicked among them had names like Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Khomeini. The more foolish had names like Harold Laski, who carried water for Lenin; Beatrice Webb, who carried water for Stalin; and Neville Chamberlain, who made a nice little pact with Hitler and proclaimed “Peace in our Time.”

Wilson was an idealist whose ideas got the better of his prudence and shame. We paid for that idealism in a crushed and belligerent Germany. The flower people of the sixties were idealists who scoffed at “hangups.” They could gaze upon the stars and sing about the Age of Aquarius, while their children looked to the empty place at table where Daddy or Mommy used to sit. Margaret Sanger was a shameless idealist. Hospital dumpsters are full of the result. 

We have had enough of shamelessness and foolish wars against reality.  

You cannot make “the world” a better place. The world is the world, old and stupid. Man is a sinner, and worst when he forgets that he is. That's not to say that you should sit and do nothing. Do the dishes. Read a good book. Be kind to your bothersome neighbor. Darken the church door and bend your knee in prayer.

Accept reality, and do the hard and unheralded work of cultivating virtue. Children are imprudent because they lack experience. Let them learn prudence from their elders. It takes no courage to follow the dreamy fad of the day, and children are suggestible. Let them learn the courage to resist the foolish and ephemeral. Children are often intemperate, because they're full of energy and so are given to hasty action and violent passions. Let them master and marshal their passions by subordinating them to right reason. Children see the world in stark oppositions of just and unjust. Let them keep their strong sense of justice, but let them temper it with the mercy that comes from acknowledgment of sin. Let shame instruct them in clemency.

Deny reality, dive deep into vice, and you will be a slave. Free the children? Teach them to blush. It's a good start.

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