Monday, April 30, 2012
I Wrote this After a Bad Afternoon with my Son
The only conclusion I've been able to come to in regards to having a large family (to me, that is more than one or two children) is that people who want "more children" must not have lost their firstborn and must not have another "firstborn" like Peter. It's the only thing I can think of. I've racked my brain looking for other reasons and I can't find any.
I say this in good humor, of course. But I do still wonder. I am in a religion with such heavily saturated expectations and traditional norms. I have never felt like I fit into these norms...which I'm totally fine with. What I'm not fine with is feeling judged by people who DO fit into these norms, or choose to adhere to them, or whatever.
HOWEVER--I know without a doubt that I am just as guilty of judging others in my church for their "rigid/conservative/cultural/traditional" views and lifestyle choices as perhaps some are of judging me.
I love Peter madly. Absolutely MADLY--but like my mother-in-law has said (two things, actually). "Molly, you just don't have easy children" As well as, "I have a theory. There are different 'breeds' or types of people in this world. Just like dogs." I couldn't agree more. So what's the breed of dog that prefers (is not genetically designed) to not have a big family (by Mormon standards)? That's my breed.
It's just been weighing on my heart and mind so HEAVILY since I became pregnant this go-around...the whole issue of family size. I mean, it really shouldn't be a big deal. Is there anything more PERSONAL than deciding/knowing/feeling how big you'd like your family to be and the issue of getting pregnant, if even possible, and giving birth, finances involved in taking care of children, etc? It's way more personal than my bowel movements.
Yet, I have felt this strange "pressure" or angst in regards to "defending" my decision to be done having children after this one.
The uncontrollable tears I've spilled this afternoon after my outing with Peter has led to deep introspection on this topic. (Because really, getting out of your car seat and climbing on mom's pregnant belly while at the bank drive through and gas pump and Taco Maker drive through for water and while on the freeway!!!!!! NOT COOL, son. NOT COOL. Not acceptable. Not allowed. Not normal. Not good. NOT NOT NOT!)
I really love the following quotes from a roundtable discussion at a worldwide leadership conference:
Sister Beck: There’s also the ward family. As we’ve mentioned, in every ward you’re going to have a spectrum of experience and challenges. Some of those women will be able to have children; some will be married; some will be widowed; some won’t. In reality there are a few women who will be able to have children and have a lot of them. And in that ward family we should rally around and support them. It’s a challenge to have a large family. I would certainly hope that no member of the Church would approach another sister in the ward and say, “You’re crazy for having another child,” but rather celebrate her ability and her desire to have them and say, “I’m supporting you. Let me do all I can to encourage and help you in that.”
Elder Holland: And we all acknowledge—Sister Tanner touched on it—that there are issues of health, there are issues that are not materialistic. We’re not talking about money or political correctness or deference to society, we’re talking about legitimate gospel-oriented things that we watch and measure. That is all the more reason not to judge. We teach, we encourage, we rally, we cheer; within the context of the gospel we encourage people to seek that destiny that is theirs.
Sister Lant: Elder Holland, I wanted to just say a word about judging other people. We look at other people, and things are not always as they seem. We think it’s one way, but it isn’t always that way.
We had a large family, and my husband was the bishop when all the children were still very young. I would work all day Saturday and all morning Sunday to get them to church, and I had to get them there early or we just didn’t even get there. We would line the whole bench—the whole center bench was filled with our children on the second row back—and we would be there before the meeting started.
I remember one day a sister came up behind me and leaned over and said, “Sister Lant, if my kids were as good as yours and if it was as easy for me as it is for you, I would have a large family too.”
Well, I started to cry, and I cried clear through the whole meeting. And my husband kept looking at me like “What is wrong? What is wrong?” I was a mess. I completely had a come-apart. And it was because it wasn’t easy.
We tend to judge one another. We judge harshly. Or we judge unfairly as we look at others—
Elder Holland: Unkindly.
Sister Lant: —unkindly. And we don’t really know what one another’s situations are. We just have to love each other.
So there it is. Its on my mind, its off my chest, and it is still something I'm pondering in my heart. It's just not as simple as we sometimes make it out to be--"So how many children do you want?" Ummm...well, if I could get pregnant....ummm....how many do I want or how many can I handle? How many will my health permit? How many can I afford? How much control do I even have in this area?
Something to think about for sure. Especially the judging each other kindly part.
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