Thursday, March 27, 2008

"children are an heritage..."

So many of my acquaintances, and even people with whom I am not acquainted, have made comments to me about the size of my family. The fact is that I have four children under five right now. My oldest will be five in May, then the next will be four in October, the next will be two in September and the youngest will be one in December.

Recently, I was part of a conversation about how to decide how many children you should have and how far apart to have them. That conversation can be, to say the least, a very touchy one. Since this is my blog, I will share my opinion on the subject. Keep in mind, it is my opinion. That doesn't mean that I am judging you if you have a different opinion. It's how I feel for my family.

The decision about both the timing and the number of children is between me, my spouse, and the Lord. Often the Lord has a different plan than I have. That's most obviously inherent in the trek for a spouse or how to finish schooling, and it certainly applies to the bearing of children.

I have had so many people mention to me that we must be done because we have three boys and finally a girl. "You got your girl, so you must be done!" Just because I had three boys first and then a girl does not mean I am finished having kids. Is the single goal of having children to have at least one of each gender before the family is complete? Does that mean that if we had a boy first and then a girl we should be done because we have one of each? Lest anybody be confused on the subject, our family is not complete just because we finally got a girl.

Another common comment I hear is, "Wow, you must be doing pretty well [meaning financially], you have four kids!" I don't understand why people feel they must wait before all their finances are in order before having one, two, three, six or ten children? President Kimball said, and I quote,

And, John and Mary, tomorrow when I repeat the phrases that will bind you for eternity, I shall say the same impressive words that the Lord said to that handsome youth and his lovely bride in the Garden of Eden: "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth." The Lord does not waste words. He meant what he said. You did not come on earth just to "eat, drink, and be merry." You came knowing full well your responsibilities. You came to get for yourself a mortal body that could become perfected, immortalized, and you understood that you were to act in partnership with God in providing bodies for other spirits equally anxious to come to the earth for righteous purposes. And so you will not postpone parenthood. There will be rationalists who will name to you numerous reasons for postponement. Of course, it will be harder to get your college degrees or your financial start with a family, but strength like yours will be undaunted in the face of difficult obstacles. Have your family as the Lord intended. Of course, it is expensive, but you will find a way, and besides, it is often those children who grow up with responsibility and hardships who carry on the world's work. And, John and Mary, do not limit your family as the world does. I am wondering now where I might have been had my parents decided arbitrarily that one or two children would be enough, or that three or four would be all they could support, or that even five would be the limit; for I was the sixth of eleven children. Don't think you will love the later ones less or have fewer material things for them. Perhaps, like Jacob, you might love the eleventh one most. Young people, have your family, love them, sacrifice for them, teach them righteousness, and you will be blessed and happy all the days of your eternal lives. (Faith Precedes the Miracle)

It is my opinion, therefore, that it is not necessary to limit my family because of financial concerns. According to what President Kimball said, the Lord has promised that if we are righteous and faithful and start our families and not limit them as the world does, the Lord will take care of us. Of course, this is contingent upon our faithfulness and righteousness. If we squander our money frivolously, I don't think we will have the Lord's blessing in that area. But to say, as so many people do to us, that we are crazy for having so many children on such a tight budget is wrong, IMNSHO. I get so tired of hearing people say that they are only having two children or one or three because they can't "afford" to have any more. What a bunch of bologna. Learn to live within your means and live more frugally and you will find it is much easier than you thought.

The only reasons I feel are necessary reasons to "limit" my family size is my health. That includes mental as well as physical. I know many women who cannot have more children because their bodies could not physically handle the stress of pregnancy and childbirth and would most likely die (and the baby too) if they tried to have another child. I also know women who have several children and they are maxed out emotionally and mentally and barely making it because they are so overwhelmed. For such women, I say, give it time or maybe that is all they can handle. But make it a matter of prayer before rendering yourself permanently sterile with a procedure like tubal ligation. I think that is a HUGE mistake to do, having a permanent method of birth control unless you would die in the process of pregnancy and childbirth. Use another method because you never know when someday in the future you might get the inspiration that the Lord has one more spirit he wants to send you. And if He does, consider that a great compliment, that he would send another child to you, one of his beloved spirit sons or daughters to be yours. What a privilege!

So that is my soapbox for the day! So anybody who has wondered why we, who have little money, have four children and will be having more, there is our reason.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Embrace Motherhood

I'm reading a wonderful book called "I am a Mother" by Jane Clayson Johnson. It's all about what a wonderful journey motherhood is. It reaffirms many of my hardcore beliefs since childhood, but it has brought into new light some of the things that I've struggled with over recent years as I've embarked on the journey of motherhood.

Often, I have felt as though my time is misspent, especially next to the steep accomplishments of my brothers. They are scholars who have traveled the world, are widely read, and spiritual giants. They are married to women who are smart, loving, and beautiful. I, on the other hand, spent one year teaching school after graduating from college, got married, taught two more years, and then began my journey of motherhood. Since that time, I have had little time outside my home to pursue any more "enlightening" endeavors, so to speak.

I recently had a conversation with an old friend of mine. She is now married with no children yet. This was just before the birth of my fourth child. We had found each other online and were recounting the events of the past few years of our lives to each other when she asked me this question: Besides being a mom, what do you do?

I was dumbfounded. Nothing! I don't do anything else! I thought hard and long about what else I could talk about. I don't do anything that is separate from mothering right now. My days are full of wiping little noses, soothing crying children, assisting preschoolers in the bathroom, changing diapers, doing laundry, cooking and cleaning. Aside from my blogs and email, little else I do is my own. I then began to think of my life as drudgery.

Then I was handed this book. As I've read it and thought about my life and my plight, I've had some realizations. Mothering IS who I am right now. Instead of trying to find time "for myself" in between all my tasks, I should be embracing the opportunity that I have at this moment in time to spend with my children. Motherhood defines me. I've prepared all my life to be this person that I am now. I need to embrace that and stop worrying about doing all these other things I think I should be writing a book, reading lots of books, traveling the world, or spending oodles of time hanging out with friends.

My single ambition right now is to forge these young minds in my charge to become all that they can become. That might mean success in the business arena for my sons, but I hope that means motherhood for my daughter. My mother prepared me, and now I'm certainly glad she did. Now I must embrace my calling of motherhood.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Let them be kids...

I have to wonder why so many parents are so eager to get their kids into school. I can understand the reasoning for parents who both work, but for moms who stay home, what's the rush? Let them enjoy their preschool years exploring the world around them before they have to be shut in a classroom at a desk for 6-7 hours a day. Let them experience life through the senses, using moments of wonder to teach them what you know about the world around them.

Think about it. Once a child starts school, they remain there, five days a week, 7 hours a day, 180 days a year for the next 13 years. That's if they stop after high school. If they go on to college (and we hope most of them will), that's an additional 4 years, and graduate/professional school is even more time. Some don't finish until they are in their late 20s, early 30s, so if they start at age 5, that can be 25+ years of school. So why put them in early? Let them have one more year of carefree learning.

Preschool children learn best through exploration and play anyway. It's a shame that many schools push academics as early as kindergarten. Kindergarten should be the introduction to school, not preschool. The excuse that education policy-makers use that we are trying to keep up with other industrialized nations is ridiculous. Putting kids in school earlier hasn't helped. We still aren't keeping up with the industrialized nations.

Perhaps one reason we are falling behind isn't because of the amount of time and environment in our classrooms, but perhaps it is due to the behaviors that we are teaching our children at home. Instead of utilizing a child's natural curiosity as a teaching tool, we expect someone else to pick up the reins to educate them. Not only do children learn valuable life lessons at home (like how to respect those in authority), but the home is a great sounding board for academic learning as well. I'm not talking just about reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic (the three r's), but science, social studies, language, music, and art.

If a child is fascinated by dinosaurs, utilize that opportunity to teach them about it. Go to the library and check out age appropriate books and read with them. Take them to a dinosaur museum if there's one nearby. Make fossils out of clay, using every day objects at home as imprints and letting them dry. There are so many opportunities to really teach our children through experiences that we give them one-on-one, rather than sitting behind a desk in a classroom with 20-30 others. The world is rich with natural wonders, and nothing beats seeing understanding cross your child's mind when you were the one who helped them get there.

Let them be kids...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Growing up in a family of all brothers, I always wanted a sister. I was always sad that I didn't have one. In fact, when my youngest brother was born, I cried because he wasn't a girl. Of course, I was only eight, and had he been a girl, there still would have been eight years between us. It's not like we could have shared clothes or dating tips or anything like that. And I've been told by those with sisters that you don't do any of that stuff anyway, you mostly just fight over who took your clothes and get jealous over who's dating the guy you like.

However, having five brothers has allowed me to gain "sisters" as they've each married. I was thinking about it today, how much I've enjoyed (and still enjoy) getting to know my sisters-in-law. I'm also excited to be getting another one in May, when my brother gets married. So far I have three lovely ladies to call sisters who married my brothers. Two of them have been part of the family for about 10 years now, the other is still new enough (and lives far enough away--try the other side of the world!) that I don't know her really well. But I'm sure there is a lifetime of being able to get better acquainted. And the wonderful girl my next brother will marry in May has been a delight to get to know. I can't wait to meet the future bride of my youngest brother when that time comes. It's so wonderful getting all these sisters!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Forgetful Me

I lay in bed at night, wide awake due to the rumbling snores of my dear husband and the snorts, coughs, grunts and sighs of my beautiful little 3-month-old, and think of all the things I could talk about on this blog. But when I'm finally up for the day, I can't remember one little bit of all the cool things I thought up to say. My brain just fogs up with all the seemingly meaningless tasks I need to do each day.

For example, this was my day today:

I got up bright and early when I heard T crying in his crib. I get him, bring him back to my bed, only to hear E waking up also. I take both babies and let the monsters out of their room (W & C). Between feeding E and changing diapers (C's last one--now he has to wear underwear 24/7), I somehow manage to eat breakfast and feed the kids. I actually manage to shower, only because DH skipped his morning class and slept in.

After showering (mind you, it was only a shower--I didn't get to put on makeup or do my hair or even get dressed in normal-people clothes, just in sloppy mom-of-four-kids-under-five clothes), we get our usual baby-sitter (PBS!) and start on the phone calls we have to make, which entail lots of being on hold and trying to figure out stupid automatic menu systems when what we really need is to talk to a person.

Then we call our tax guy to ask a question about taxes, something we still need to finish and send to him. We leave a message, but he never calls us back. In between all this, crying babies, loud & wild kids, we somehow are able to wash six loads of clothes, towels, and C's bedding (which he soaked during his nap). We manage to get lunch together, get the kids down for naps, and I go to the grocery store to buy the 3-4 items we forgot during the grocery shopping trip on Sat.

Then DH leaves for work, and I am stuck with six mountainous loads of laundry to fold and put away, dinner to prepare, and four intensely active or super-crabby kids.

Now, you see why I can't remember anything that I thought of last night, much less last week or last year, or even last decade. My brain is completely shot now and I'm going to bed...

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Another Sleepless Night

As usual, I didn't get much sleep last night. Why is it that husbands have the ability to sleep right through the piercing screams of a hungry baby? I would have woken him up and made him feed her, since he was actually home all night, but I wasn't sleeping anyway, so I went ahead and did it without bothering him. If he had gotten up with her, I would have lain in bed awake, so I figured, whatever, I'll just do it. She was so sweet and went right back to sleep. I just held her for a while, feeling her soft breath on my neck and her warm body cuddled up to mine. It was a peaceful moment.


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