The avoiding maneuvers.
The compliments that you realize later were really jabs....
And all of this from a 15 minute run with my kids to the store for milk and cereal!
When I decided to relocate our family from Centerville, UT, to Portland, OR we were – and still are – totally happy with our choice. We love the scenery, we love the people, we love the job he now has, we love the land we own. All around? Totally a great change for our family.
You know what also came with the move?
The fact that, outside of Utah and maybe a few other states, having four kids is equal to total insanity in the eyes of others.
Like, What is Wrong With You,
Do You Not Know What Birth Control Is,
"How Are You Even Surviving This?"
I have also found it interesting that while the fruits of my womb bring undue attention living here, I remember how many in Utah would feel judged for their lack of fruits.
How long have they been married? is whispered between friends.
Are they not able to have children?
What are they waiting for?
Indiscreet conversation tactics would follow to try and tease the answer out of the all-too-suspecting couple.
I guess it is natural to be curious in our church when, after having been taught about the importance of having children, some seem not to heed that teaching. In the end, though, I think we really all know this truth:
It Ain't None of Yo' Bizness.
President Gordon B. Hinckley gave this inspired counsel to an audience of young Latter-day Saints:
“I like to think of the positive side of the equation, of the meaning and sanctity of life, of the purpose of this estate in our eternal journey, of the need for the experiences of mortal life under the great plan of God our Father, of the joy that is to be found only where there are children in the home, of the blessings that come of good posterity. When I think of these values and see them taught and observed, then I am willing to leave the question of numbers to the man and the woman and the Lord” (“If I Were You, What Would I Do?”Brigham Young University 1983–84 Fireside and Devotional Speeches, Provo, Utah: University Publications, 1984, p. 11).
Dallin H. Oaks said:
“Some who are listening to this message are probably saying, “But what about me?” We know that many worthy and wonderful Latter-day Saints currently lack the ideal opportunities and essential requirements for their progress. Singleness, childlessness, death, and divorce frustrate ideals and postpone the fulfillment of promised blessings. In addition, some women who desire to be full-time mothers and homemakers have been literally compelled to enter the full-time work force. But these frustrations are only temporary. The Lord has promised that in the eternities no blessing will be denied his sons and daughters who keep the commandments, are true to their covenants, and desire what is right” (“The Great Plan of Happiness”, October 1993 General Conference).
There is no doubt that the world increasingly looks down upon those who choose to have large families.
I remember hearing a friend say a few years ago, “Well – three IS the new five,” in regards to having children. This may be the case, whether due to economic considerations or a myriad of other reasons, but we do know we are encouraged to bring as many children into this world as we are able to effectively care for physically, financially, mentally and emotionally.
Does this mean that if I have four children and Susie next door has seven that she is more mentally healthy as a mother? Absolutely not. This decision is truly a partnership with our Father in Heaven. He knows the path of our life and what is best for us. Our well-meaning neighbors or even loved family members simply do not.
Whatever the size of our family, I hope that we:
Dwell less on the number of children we have
and more on the number of times we tell them we love them every day;
Dwell less on what the world feels about our family
and more about how our family feels about one another and the gospel of Jesus Christ;
Dwell less on the riches of the world
and more on the treasure of family, no matter the size.
As for those trips to the grocery store, I have learned to face them with a bright smile, eager to tell others how much I enjoy being a mom to these special souls.
I recently had a woman stop me as I pushed my drastically overfilled cart toward the exit of the store.
“Now I feel better about buying more than I need, too,” she said, pointing at my purchases.
I knew that how I reacted to this comment would affect not only her day, but mine as well.
Suppressing my desire to be upset, I smiled, held on to her hand and said in an excited tone, “You know what the crazy thing is? We actually DO need all of this! We have a large family, and they are the joys of our life.”
Bring on the stares. Bring on the questions. I welcome opportunities to share why I have children and why that choice has blessed our life immeasurably.
Thanks for sharing your time with me. Have comments on how you have been affected by the size of your family, for good or bad? Please comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.