We all have a calling! Mine has involved handing out condoms!

canstockphoto13636966In honor of Phyllis Schlafly’s most recent stupid comments, and all the most recent “debates” about contraceptives, I thought it was necessary that I once again reveal one of my secret super hero identities! (To those who may have missed it, the original reveal was in a BDN blog from 2011)! You see, Schlafly, who has been trying to pull her fellow women back to the dark ages since forming STOP ERA in the 1970s, is at it again, now tackling the troubling feminist issue of women who want to be paid equally for the work they do! Now for anyone unfamiliar with this woman and her life’s work, dedicated to keeping women in their place, or as she calls it their “God given roles of wife and mother,” let me share some of her most enjoyable quotes:

  • “Sexual harassment in the work place is not a problem for virtuous women.”
  • “People think that child-support enforcement benefits children, but it doesn’t.”
  • “Sex education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions.”
  • “After Big Media, U.S. colleges and universities are the biggest enemies of the values of red-state Americans.”

I could go one, but who can fault a woman so dedicated to a cause. I too, have felt a pull, a calling, and have dedicated my life to several causes near and dear to my heart, one of which is limiting the number of unplanned births in my fair city. Oh yes, that is my secret identity. Fellow Bangorians I am the Condom Mom! That’s right, for 16 years, since my oldest child was a freshman in high school; I have been purchasing and making available condoms of all varieties!

For those of you who judged my personal life after seeing me buy multiple boxes of condoms on sale at the drug store, now you know the truth! Of course, my free condoms come with lectures and lessons on self-respect and commitment.  There is always a catch isn’t there. They also came with the knowledge that there was at least one adult in your life that you could come to with questions, any questions, who would not judge you, ever!

I had assumed that at some point, in all these years, at least one parent would come to me and say “what the hell are you doing?” No one ever did. None of the parents ever said thank you either. If they only knew, I’m sure some of them might have. I always hoped if there was something one of my kids couldn’t talk to me about that another parent would be there for them. It does, after all, take a village sometimes. I like to think over all these years I helped keep the village of Bangor just a little safer, and a little smaller!

There was more than one teenager who visited our home over the years, stunned to discover that the kids could talk openly with me and that there were free condoms in a jar in the upstairs bathroom. The condoms also showed up in Christmas stockings and in bright, cheerful colors in care packages to college campuses, foreign countries and Americorps outposts, to be shared along with jelly beans and chocolate! I hope that because of them, some of those young people made at least a few choices that were better than those they made before.

I remember one young man who came to my house. He was 18 years old. His mother had found condoms in his room and she had TAKEN THEM AWAY FROM HIM. She had told him that her religion was strictly against him having sex until he was married and that from now on he WAS NO LONGER ALLOWED TO HAVE SEX. Now how effective does anyone really think that was? I do not mean to disrespect anyone’s personal religious beliefs however, when those beliefs conflict with reality there is a time when one must say “WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?” Her son was being responsible. He had educated himself and was protecting himself and his future. How about saying something like “these are our family’s religious beliefs however, if you find yourself in a situation, or chose to follow beliefs of your own this is how you protect your health, your future, and the future of the person you are with.” Or maybe, “wow son, I am very proud of you for taking care of yourself.”

Maybe some of this is personal. I was a mom at 19 years old. I do not regret that. It was and still is the greatest thing I have ever done! However, I would have been a better mom if I had waited until I got older. I would have been a better mom if I had gone to college first, instead of after, in order to better provide for my children. Not admitting that is irresponsible and not warning my children of that would be irresponsible too. I have always told them, you can change any decision you make in your life except one. You can change your school, where you live, your partner, or your career. However, once you bring another human being into the world, you can’t change that! You will love this little person so much, so incredibly much, that you will want the best of everything for them. You will want them to have the very best parents in the world. So before you do that, before you make that decision, make sure you are ready to be the very best parent in the world.

Life happens and there are so many things in our lives that are beyond our control. The choice, however, to create life or not, is in your hands. The choice to create a life for yourself, the choice to create a life for the person you love, and the choice to make a life together is yours. It is a blessing to make a life and it is a blessing to have the choice not to make another life. Our fore-mothers fought long and hard for you to have those choices. Take it seriously. Go out and make a life for yourselves.

That’s right Mrs. Schlafly and all the others who somehow think that providing accurate healthcare information to young people will be responsible for the downfall of humanity, it’s about choice. Not your choice, not my choice. I have educated my children. I have instilled in them a sense of responsibility and moral values. And I trust them with those choices. I trust other adults with those choices as well.

We all have our calling and all I’ve ever wanted for my children was for them to have the chance to follow theirs!


For more information go to:

Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center

Eastern Maine Aids Network


Karen Foley

About Karen Foley

Karen Foley, has successfully been writing her blog for the BDN since May 2011. By successful, she means a few people read it, and she has not been sued, stalked or fired since starting it.