real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

on being pro-life in the grocery store

Sometimes I am ashamed of myself.

People who know me very well know that I rarely hesitate to take a stand for anything I believe in. I will go to the mattresses if a real truth is at stake. In fact, I know there are times when I have downright scared people. For some of those instances, I am even sorry.

Then there are the other times, those painful moments I have been ashamed because I wasn’t as bold as I should have been. And it is usually at that point when the worst happens….one of my children steps up to the plate and I am left looking like the wimp I might really be.

The other day, I was standing in the grocery store checkout lane, eavesdropping on the conversation between the checker and the bagger as I piled radishes and tomatoes onto the conveyor belt. The older one was explaining how he is a psychology major and how he planned to work in a mental institution one day. Friendly and sometimes irritatingly gregarious soul that I am, I commented to him, “Oh, I was a psychology major, too, and spent my semester of abnormal psych working at a state hospital.”

He nodded and seemed interested so I continued, though I don’t know why this particular aspect of my college experience even popped into my head. “Of course, that was decades ago, back when they still placed mentally handicapped and Down’s syndrome adults in rooms with those who were mentally ill because they didn’t know any better.”

To this, he was intrigued and responded, “Yes, I have heard about that. What a shame.”

Now here is where my shameful moment begins. I DIDN’T SEE THE OPENING, THE POINT OF THE CONVERSATION WHERE I COULD HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE. But my son did and so he took it.

“You hardly ever see any Down’s syndrome children anymore like you used to,” my son said.

The checker nodded again, looking intrigued.

My son continued. “That is because pregnant women have all those tests now and if they find out they are going to have a baby with Down’s syndrome, they just get an abortion instead.”

Ever feel like all 200 eyes of 100 grocery store customers might be on you?

I heard myself mutter, though quietly, “Yes, it is true that there is little value for human life these days,” hesitating to use the “a” word again and cringing a little at the political incorrectness of it all. I can be a tiger with an editorial staff but a whimp with a grocery store college student checker.

“You know, Hitler,” I heard my son say, “Hitler had the same plan, to exterminate all the unwanted people, those with handicaps, those who weren’t perfect. It is just like that today. They want to exterminate unborn babies who aren’t perfect.”

The checker paused, looking back and forth between me and my son. “Wow!” he said. “I had never thought about that before, but it is so true!”
We gathered our bags and left the checker deep in thought. I kept wondering why I hadn’t been the one to say these things, that it took my son, my son who is slow of speech and sometimes slow of thought, my son with the learning disabilities, to boldly speak the truth.

“Out of the mouth of babes (the weak, foolish, or contemptible) and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” ~ Psalm 8:2



  susan t wrote @

But Karen, your son DID say the needed words! What a testimony! It was his time and when you were silent he spoke up. Your son, who you say is sometimes slow of speech… said what needed to be said. Praise God!

  Carol wrote @

You must be sooooo proud of him. Wow. Nothing for YOU to be ashamed of – it was better coming from him, and a testimony to your mothering. What a courageous boy!

  Trish wrote @

Perhaps the tag teaming may have made things less aggressive for listeners and they actually heard and thought about what was said. You did just fine – but I know what you mean.

  Anne wrote @

I don’t think that showed a weakness on your part. But it sure showed your son’s ability to pick up on a great opening.

I recently had the great blessing of caring for an older woman after surgery and her 40 something daughter, with Down’s Syndrome, came to visit her. I spoke with her afterward and thanked her for pioneering the care of children with special needs. As a mom with 2 sons who have Autism, I look up to the women like her, who insisted on keeping their children close, raising them, and insisting that their personhood be respected.

I was so touched by her incredible attitude toward parenting a special needs child, and I tried to learn as much from her as I could in my short time as her nurse. In return, she was touched that I thanked her and understood how difficult it had been.

I never thought of her story in terms of abortion, because it’s just not something I’d think of when faced with a child with Down’s. I think of kids with special needs as a blessing. I think you do too.

But kudos to your son for seeing a great opportunity to share such an important point with someone who had never thought of it that way before!

  thatmom wrote @

Thanks for the kind words. I am so very proud of Will. We named him William James, which means “strong-willed defender of the truth” which we wrote on his birth announcements! Not a day goes by that he doesn’t really amaze me with his insights.

  Carol wrote @

I don’t think many parents realize the importance of the “naming” of a child. It sure was taken seriously in the Bible.

  Luke Holzmann wrote @

I am learning that how you present the message is equally important as presenting the message in the first place. I agree with Trish: Your son presented it in a way that let people hear the message. And I think our tendency to not open our mouths is more a worry that our message will be shot down/not heard/berated than a lack of willingness to speak.


  Ann Logsdon wrote @

I think that your son’s words are a brilliant testimony to the many things you did right in raising him. What an insightful young man!

  Julie wrote @

that story made me cry. “i have no greater joy that to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”

thanks for sharing.

  thatmom wrote @

Ann, thank you for the kind words. Will is an amazing young man and I am continually amazed at how he comes to various conclusions.

  thatmom wrote @

Julie, I am so glad to hear from you. I have missed your blogging thoughts but fully understand the tyranny of “your” urgent!

{{{}}} to you my friend.

  titus2woman wrote @

This totally made me cry! I admire your boldness sooo much, as it’s an area of great struggle for me. In turn, I can already see ways in which it is a great struggle for my children. You, on the other hand, have modeled it out very beautifully. All is as it was supposed to be that day! Seeds might not have been planted had you been the messenger that day. GOOD JOB, MAMA! ~and PRETTY PLEASE some rub shoulders with me? (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  Moorea wrote @

Do not feel a failure for not speaking up loudly, the Lord uses all things and he knows that checker. It is possible if you had been “in his face” with the subject he would not have listened. God bless your son! (and you!)” The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness. : Prov 15:2

  Holly P wrote @

Great story!

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