Privilege of Choice

When Frank and I got married, we decided we wanted to wait three years before having kids. While neither of us were old, I was in my late-twenties, he was in his mid-thirties and we had done a lot of world exploring before meeting. We still had things we wanted to do together and places we wanted to visit so we determined that three years would give us time to enjoy married life before beginning a family.

First three years packed with adventure
First three years packed with adventure

Three years and three days after our wedding, Bea was born. Our family started just as planned and we’ll be adding our next child almost exactly three years after Bea’s birth. (Can you tell we’re both first borns?)

My One Word for this year is choose, and as always, it’s been showing up in ways I hadn’t anticipated. When I thought about choose, I thought about my own life, but choose seems to be showing itself more in ways that highlight my own privilege. I have so many choices because of my privilege – to choose when to start my family, to choose to stay home with our children, to choose to work part-time, to choose a partner who fully supports these choices…

I just began reading The Mother & Child Project, a series of essays highlighting the maternal and infant health issues around the world. I’m not even 100 pages in and I’m already hit with my abundant privilege of choice. From vaccinations to family planning to breastfeeding and so much more, my choices are made without regard to the high value they carry. Many mothers across the globe do not have these choices.

One of the big issues addressed in this book is access to family planning. This is a hot topic in many circles here in the United States. To support contraceptives as part of health care is not a dinner table discussion – people have big feelings about this topic. And yet, our debates and personal choices here translate to life-threatening lack of options in rural communities in developing countries. Here, with access to healthcare having children close together is more of a personal choice. In rural areas lacking in proper healthcare, not allowing a mother to wait at least two years between pregnancies can cost her life.

Reading these essays has me reflecting on the great responsibility of choice. Living in a country that helps determine aide policies and practices to countries who desperately need solutions to maternal health problems, I realize my choices are not just my own. I may feel passionately about certain policies, but I need to learn to step back and question if they are universally best or simply best for me and my family. If they are simply a personal choice, I need to weigh whether the fight for my own personal freedoms outweighs the health and survival of those who do not have those same freedoms.

At the end of the book are pages of resources that give tangible ideas for ways to help the crisis of maternal health. Frank and I will be reviewing our budget to see how we can begin giving to some of these organizations. In the meantime, I’m looking at my own privilege of choice and considering how I can alter my worldview to remember all I can take for granted.

How does your privilege of choice play into decision making? Are you a global thinker when it comes to personal decisions?

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