I Wrote this After a Bad Afternoon with my Son

Monday, April 30, 2012

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. 


  1. You're right, Molly. It's never ok to judge, not in how many children you choose to have, or in any other aspect of life. Who was it that said something to the effect of..."be kind to everyone, you never know the inner battles they are fighting"? And in a hymn "In the quiet heart is hidden sorrows that the eye can't see." We are too quick to judge, but really I think everyone is just doing their level best. You just keep being a good mom to Peter. And remember, that EVERYONE has those moments. My kids have embarrassed me more times that I can count, but they make me humble, and they are the most important thing I do with my time. So hang in there! The good times make up for lots!

  2. I was just talking about this with my husband recently. Our daughter may very well be an only child, and people make snide comments about it, but we were talking about how people with large families get the same kind of comments--awful, personal, judgmental remarks and stares. And then we started talking about single parents, gay parents, interracial parents, parents of special needs children, etc etc etc--it seems like unless you're the typical mainstream family with 2.5 kids (or, in the context of your faith community, maybe it's 4.5 kids), you're going to encounter criticism. And that makes me so angry, because like you said, it's such a personal decision.

    And everybody has a story we can't see--you never know when "you need to give that child a sibling so she doesn't turn out spoiled!" may be directed toward someone with secondary infertility who would LOVE to have a second child. So minding your own business is always a pretty awesome idea.

    You got me on my soapbox, Molly. Now do a post on strangers touching other people's pregnant bellies/babies so I can get REALLY fired up!

  3. You know, this is a very deep question for me. I have NEVER looked at another family, and judged their capability based on the amount of children they have. I feel absolutely nuts and insane for attempting four, when as a capable mother I probably would have been good at one. But the fact that you put yourself on the pregnant sacrificial alter after the loss of your darling Lucy, that in itself speaks for any judgement thrown your way. 2 children after the loss of the first?!?! You may as well have had twenty. Besides, the Abrahamic Covenant promises eternal increase. If people judge you for having 2, then tell them you plan to have a million plus in the next life, when you are promised to have and hold them FOREVER, not for two short years. Molly, you continue to inspire with your thoughts, uttering that which other people think, but don't dare to speak out loud. And you do it with such love and eloquence. Write a book someday, when Peter stops climbing out of his car seat and into your sanity:)

  4. We will mostly like be done with this baby as well (#3). I get comments all the time like "You're young, you'll have more." and even once "You'll see, you'll feel the 'righteous' urge to have more children." That last comment made my blood boil. I know my own limits as a wife and mother, and kudos to those who can handle more, but I would rather be happy and productive than have more kids and out of my mind. I also know that having a special needs child (my oldest has Aspergers) is not something everyone has to deal with and very few understand. The number of children you have is between you, your husband, and the Lord. End of debate.

  5. Tee hee. That Mike was Tracie...Wilton. Sorry, my husband HATES when I do that, cause he comes out sounding all flowerly and stuff:)

  6. Molly, I feel your pain with the crazy son. Carter melts me into a thousand pieces and then one second later I feel like we both need to be on drugs to handle his craziness.
    Carter went through the climbing out of the car seat too a few months ago.. I wrote about it here and people gave good advice...

    but what helped the most was I got one of those clips that rock climbers use and I clipped that to the three straps and it totally worked because he could not un clip that darn thing.

    I love the quotes you shared. I gave a lesson in RS yesterday from Elder Anderson's talk titled "Children" and I love how he took such a sensitive approach to the topic. I made sure to share this line with the sisters

    "Brothers and sisters, we should not be judgmental with one another in this sacred and private responsibility".

    You are not alone in the crazy but darling son club.

    Sending love, and prayers.

  7. I completely agree, and yet it seems like this is something people talk about/judge all the time! I once heard somebody describe it like this: "If anybody has less kids than we do, they're selfish. If they have more kids than we do, they're fundamentalists." Sadly, I think this line of thinking is more common than we'd like to admit. But you're totally right - seriously, could there be anything more personal ON EVERY LEVEL?!

  8. Oh, Molly. You have no idea how much I have google-searched this EXACT topic as of late ("LDS Women and the pressures of big families"). I just had my 3rd girl. All girls. No boys. And everyone's favorite thing to say to me is, "Gotta' keep trying for that boy!" And I want to punch them dead in the face. Because the reason I had the 3rd is because I felt (self-imposed) pressure to try for "that boy."

    Now, I love my baby Daphne. But 3 is HARD! And 3 is especially hard for someone like me... who is probably also someone like you. I am a little intense. I have some self-diagnosed OCD. I like control. And I have triggered PTSD-related anxiety. Now - my anxiety can't possibly be as bad as yours because mine comes from having had a severely colicky baby and yours comes from losing a child. However, it triggered something for me nonetheless. Yours is, most likely, exponentially worse.

    When my last (yes, my LAST) baby was born nearly 8 weeks ago, I felt like I had to tell every LDS person I came in contact with that she is my last. You know, kind of like when you trip and you have to say to everyone, "Haha! I tripped!" because you want them to know you know it to, because somehow it lessens the embarrassment? So, my guilt as an LDS woman of wanting to stop at 3, and without a SON! (heaven forbid) was making me feel like I had to tell people my intentions before-hand so that they wouldn't have the chance to notice it and judge it first. Also, there was this part of me that likes to tell me over and over, "look at so-&-so with her 7 kids and she's fine!" and I then spiral into this place where I feel like less of a woman and totally incapable - like somehow a woman with more children than me is better than me. Like their character is measured by their fertility. Like quantity gets us into the Celestial Kingdom before quality.
    Even my mother-in-law, who was visiting at the time, mentioned I didn't need to tell everyone. And, although she was right and I totally love the woman, I couldn't help but feel like she wanted me to keep it quiet because it isn't "doctrinally right." Says who?!

    *side-note: more women are on prescribed anti-depressants in the state of Utah than any other state. Not saying it's the kids, but the argument is strong. ;)

    But now I've come to a place where I realize, I have 3 EXISTING children and I don't want to be burned out for them as they age. My oldest daughter is, by nature, very happy. But since the baby was born, she has become a little overemotional, and I know it's because I'M on the verge of tears almost daily. And what child deserves that for the sake of a cultural religious pressure?

    This will be #3 for you. You will have "multiplied & replenished."

    President Monson only has 3 kids, and I'd say he looks pretty good in the eyes of the Lord.

    I found this particular blog post interesting:


  9. Sheri Dew said the final judgement will be a breeze compared to what we (especially women) put each other through in this life.

    My mom is amazed at people commenting on family size. She said back in her day it was considered so private and personal that nobody asked you if and/or when you were having more. Maybe we need to get back to that.

  10. Those quotes are powerful. It's incredibly concerning to me to hear so much coming from church leadership about not judging one another. To me, I wonder what glories of the Gospel we're missing out on because we're too busy being reminded that we shouldn't wondering why Sister So-and-So is so abrasive and Brother She-and-Him can't put his iPad down long enough to follow along with the Gospel Doctrine lesson. (Two things I, personally, have been guilty of.)

    Family size choices are agonizing. You can't put a pretty bow on it and call it pretty and perfect. It's nothing short of soul-wrenching. I don't have any answers, though, but wish I did.

  11. Three. Aaaaaaand done. I support every woman to have the family she knows she's capable of caring, loving, and handling. For some women, that's one (oh, I get that,) and for some women that's twelve (more power to you, sister!)

    And for the record, Peter sounds like a boy. Hate to break it to you. (They do get better, swear.)

  12. Well said. We get asked if we're having more children or not. Sometimes, it feels like a judging question. But more often than not, it's just a curiosity one. And I've asked others the same question...whether they have one, two, or ten children. Doesn't matter. And no, it's not any of my business. But the conversations that have come out of these questions have been fantastic and helped build bonds between me and others.

    Most people know that we lost a child since we're in the same community as when it happened. They know we aren't judging. They know we know grief and pain. And there is a lot of pain out there. People want others to know about their lives.

    Sometimes, I think about how overwhelmed I am with the 5 children I have at home and 1 in heaven. Then I think about the possibility of another child...and I don't know if we're "done". Maybe. Maybe not. I don't have to decide that today.

    It's heavy for me to realize that the most judgmental comments and concerns we have are from those that do not know us. Like with car seats...is it worse to have Peter climbing all over your pregnant belly when the car is in motion because it's distracting? Or because you're afraid someone will see you and you can get a ticket?

    My stress at a child getting out of his/her car seat is more about making it so others don't see (chance of a collision is fairly low). I'll be labeled a bad parent for not controlling my child...since it seems to me that all judgmental people are able to control their children (or they don't have any - hypothetical children are the worst to be compared to). So the stress is what is dangerous for me...not the actual child's action. I don't know about the situation with Peter other than the blurb I wrote. I can definitely see a kid crawling in your lap being dangerous though not the only thing causing stress in that situation.

    I honestly believe parenting a single child is harder than multiple children. It's hard to be a parent AND playmate. Well, actually, maybe the hardest is having one child and then a baby...then your time is really sucked up into parent, playmate, and caregiver to the baby (and child). But when the baby starts crawling and playing, then two children becomes "easier" than one.

    Maybe you'll be done after this new one. That's okay. Maybe you'll change your mind later. That's okay, too. We'll love you no matter what.

    Best wishes for a smooth delivery and no sibling rivalry. :o)

  13. Mormons are weird. The "Mormon Culture" is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Some of Thad's friends once asked us how many children we wanted to have. Thad and I both have the opinion that we dont know, we dont have a number picked out, and honestly I never have been a girl who HAD the number in mind. So when we told his friends that we didnt know, that we were going to wait and see how it went, hell, we dont even know if we can have children, etc., they said "jeez, do you guys even like each other?" Really? Because we dont have the standard "4" in mind we're weird? So whatever. I know what you mean by feeling this way. And you know what, The Prophet of this here church only has 3 children, and something tells me he's fairly favored by our Heavenly Father, so I dont know that having 7 or 8 kids is the key to the Celestial Kingdom. Just sayin'

  14. Wow. I could've used that climbing clip advice so many times with my kids when they were younger (boys and girl). I'll keep it in mind for my baby girl when she starts getting "too" coordinated.

    Not all boys are like Peter, though (sorry Azucar!). I had a couple definitely like that (in the car seat department) but one couldn't undo his 5 point harness to save his life...like the one time I accidentally locked the keys in the car with him and his infant sister inside. He couldn't undo his seat belt...so all those times I was grateful for he couldn't do it came back to bite me in the butt when I really needed him to get out. Anyway, all boys are different, too. We need all sorts of personalities to make a great family. I hope this new one will be a calm spirit for you...or maybe a hellion to challenge/calm/mature Peter for you. Either way, may you be blessed with tremendous happiness.

  15. I have found that people are not judging half as often as I assume they are. It was so hard for us to decide to have another baby, not because I did not know I wanted one, but because I knew every person in the whole world was going to judge me for having too many. I live in California and believe me it is not the norm around here to have 5 children. Not even at church. And not only that, but my kids can be royally knotty. I am sure I look like I can not handle the ones I have. I have two with ADHD. Just writing this I am sure there will be someone who thinks, well than why are you going to do it if you are going to complain about how hard it is. But I have decided, while yes there are a few who will truly judge me, most people don't. Most Moms, if I climbed into their head are worrying about what they are going to do next to survive and not what I am doing. I have found that even the people who make the hurtful comments that I take as hurtful, normally aren't intended to hurt me. I don't think they wake up in the morning and think today I am going to make a comment with out thinking today, that is going to ruin Sarah's Day. Half of the time the comments are made as a compliment. One day I was at a store and I had all four kids with me. A grandmother in passing said. Well you have your hands full. I don't know why that comment rubs me the wrong way. Maybe I believe they are in a passive aggressive way trying to tell me, "what the hell were you thinking having so many kids?" Normally I just laugh and say yes. But this one particular day I stopped and very shortly said, Yes with very good things. This was as my kids were fighting and pulling each others hair and one of them was trying to tip over the basket with the baby in it. This poor woman got a very hurt look on her face that I would assume she meant anything else and gave me a hug. She explained that she was admiring my fortitude and wished that her only daughter who had passed away would have had a chance to give her grandchildren. I felt aweful. I reallized my assumption came directly because of the day I was having. Since then I have tried really hard not to read too much into what people say. Most people have good intentions and well the ones that don't have to be going through something in their own lives to make them want to be mean. I agree whole heartedly that the question of children is one of the most personal decisions a person can make. And we can not beat ourselves up when our answers do not match our neighbors. We are all individuals in our own individual circumstances. As woman the best thing we can do is support one another in our answers and love and give support when it is needed. I for one am amazed by you. You carry a weight on your shoulders that most of us will never. Let people love you. Because from what I have seen reading your blog, thousands do. You have touched countless lives and spired so many to keep breathing through their own trials. The Lord knows you better than anyone else and that is who you have to seek counsel with in your answers and no one else. There does not need to be team "lots of kids" or Team "a couple kids" or Team "No Children". We just need to be Team "Women".

  16. Thank you for this post! I so often feel people who do not know my story, wonder why my husband and I are waiting so long to have children. I get at least one comment a week. People wondering when we will ever settle down and have children. If only they knew...
    I believe that if we truly understand a person we will never have any room or reason to judge them. I think it is so important for us to seek to understand others and support them in their efforts and decisions...what a happier world it would be if we could all do that!

  17. Yep, it sounds like a reaction to a very bad day. It's always bad and terrifying when I child puts themselves in harms way.
    As for family size in our church...try having no children (being a mother of a child that never took a breath of life). As a childless woman I don't fit the mold either... I feel judged. And, like you, I judge back. But ultimately we make the decisions we make and live them. I hope you can live your decision with joy because to be blunt, it's between you, your husband and your Father in Heaven. If you guys are happy, screw the rest of them. Sorry about that, but that's how I feel. You're the mother of three, and I think that's a perfect number, for whoever chooses it. Stand strong and proud young lady, you've earned it!

  18. Actually it seems "Mormon culture" is drifting more away from having 6+ kids. I can only name about six women that I personally know in my generation who have more than three and four seems to be what everyone considers large now. I tend to agree with the idea of different "breeds" of people, but I think of it more as a tolerance of what you can handle or how you handle different things. I mean, I have kids and that's about all I can handle, but you are able to do all these things besides child-rearing that I WISH I could do in addition to being a mom but I just don't have it in me.

    Also, some people have really mellow, calm children and others do not. Even people with "intense" children have different levels of intensity. Some little kids are criers, others get into stuff, others run off, etc. The only thing I think I've ever heard the Church discouraging is not having very many kids because you'd rather have a nice big house with a maid or a fancy vacation every year and having more kids would prevent a person from doing that financially in a lot of cases. But you know your limits and the Lord knows your limits and as long as people keep that communication open and feel right about their choices, they are doing the right thing.

    I get more criticism and judgment from members of the Church for having more than four than I ever did before we had our fourth child. Three seemed like the acceptable number to most LDS and when we had our fourth, LDS people were downright rude about it. I just feel like most people know when their family is complete and it's not something we should judge each other on.

  19. Thank you. I'm not a Mormon, so I don't understand the pressures that you face. However, I have noticed in my own church family that the question about when a couple will have children, or how many they want seems to be "fair game" for some dumb reason. It's all I can do most times to not scream. I haven't yet found a tactful way to say that we've been down the pregnancy road 3 times, and it ended in miscarriage each time.

    It is no one's business. That's it. I don't want advice, I don't want questions, I don't want assumptions, I don't want judgment.

    It really is a shame that the church (mormon or otherwise) can sometimes be the most judgmental place to be.

    As you said, for some people, the lack of a large family may not be a choice they wanted to make. It hurts my heart to know that there are people who get a CHOICE about the number of children they have, when I struggle to even have one.

    Ok, stepping down off my soapbox. Just wanted to let you know that I agree. It is such a personal decision, and there is so much "behind the scenes" that affects the decision... It's really something that NO ONE should ever ask, in my opinion.

  20. I always feel the pressure. Just today I was out walking and a member of my ward asked where my other kid was. I was like, umm, what other kid? ISN'T ONE ENOUGH?!

    I know she was actually just confusing me with someone else, but I really do get asked all the time when I'm having another. I've started being blunt now. I straight up tell people that my post-partum depression was so debilitating that I cannot fathom having another child.

    It is a personal decision, and whatever is decided between husband and wife is RIGHT. Who cares what anyone else says?

  21. I am the mother of ONE son - my son, my adopted son, my eternal son, my only, my future. I got the same questions when I was a young mother: When are you getting another? You only have one child? He needs a sibling!! I really wished it would have been different (although I never yearned to multiply and replenish the earth all by myself) but it was not to be. It seemed sacrilage to some people that I only had one child. How selfish of me, right? But now, my son and his wife have their own little boy and life goes on - it goes full circle - it is OUR life and we are so blessed and lucky to have each other. We are also blessed to be able to make our own decisions about those kinds of things. What is right for me, may not be right for you or someone else. Molly, you are amazing and you are doing more for others than you realize. You ask the hard questions. You don't sidestep how you feel. You challenge us bloggers to really THINK about things. You "call" some of us out about our self-righteousness and how we tend to judge each other. We are children of our Heavenly Father, daughters of God, we should do better than that and try to be more Christ-like. Thanks for being so honest and making me think seriously about the type of person I am and who I would really like to become. I am 60 years old - it's not too late, right??? LOL

  22. THANK YOU for addressing such a sensitive subject I have always struggled with. As a diabetic, delivering a healthy baby at 9 months didn't seem like a possibility. I was put on bed rest at 7 months, my little one came almost 4 weeks early.... The list is endless really. Now that I'm not married, the pressure to find a husband and deliver another child before I'm "too old" has hit and I fight it off because I know I can't do all of those things in the next (oh I don't know) 2 years! I wish we could love each other more and judge A LOT less. I would love to try to have another child but that means I need a man and that means I have to find one. These things take time. I'm a convert and so sometimes I feel like certain things don't apply to me. It could be wrong to see things that way but it helps me keep my sanity. Love this post!!!

  23. I think it takes a strong woman to be able to know herself and admit that "This is all I can handle if I want to be the best that I can be." I think most of the time judgement comes from jealousy. My sister has 2 kids and she tells people straight out when they ask her that she can only handle two kids and she is done. I think her honesty stops people from saying more or their opinions. She is such a good mom but knows if she gets too overwhelmed she is not at her best so she decided that 2 was all she could handle and she is so happy and feels really good about her decision. Children did not come easy for her and she is so happy to have her 2 even though she has had the opportunity to have more she has put aside the guilt and judgment and stuck to what she knows to be right for her.
    I love that she knows herself and isn't afraid to admit that she couldn't handle more than what she has.
    I think a lot of women get themselves into bad places even when they know it might not be the best for them because they feel pressured or judged and then they are unhappy and depressed. You've got to do what is best for you and you know what is best for you and your family. It is so hard to step out of the way of judgment of others but if you can do it you can be an example to other women of strength and confidence and show them how it should be done.
    You are great and you know what is best for you. Keep at it.

  24. Thank you for this post... some other situations people don't often think of is step-families. I just married into 2 children and I love them with all my heart. People are pressuring us to know when we will get pregnant, and little do they know My first will be my THIRD. Are they crazy!?!? Thank you for the sincerity and honesty of this post.

    Judge not, lest ye be judged. I love that.

  25. My mom had 7 pregnancies. 3 live births 4 late term (22 months+) miscarriages. She felt judged by others for "only" having three. She probably would have had one more had she been able to physically do it, but I marvel at the audacity of people who couldn't seriously comprehend that she COULD NOT DO IT. I have two daughters. Some days I feel like I'm done, some days I feel like I'll have one or two more, but I feel that judgment and pressure (mainly by people in another, older generation...50+ perhaps?) to have at least 4 (4 seems to be the magic Mormon number these days. I don't know if I can handle it emotionally, spiritually, physically. People just need to back off and worry about themselves.

  26. Tender topic... I totally think the decision is personal. A wise friend told me... that how many children you have is between You, Your husband, and the Lord... the outside opinions don't matter.

    YOU are GORGEOUS Miss Molly!!!


  27. I have six children including two sets of twins...I can't tell you how many times I've heard the comment "I can't even handle my one, I can't imagine how you do it." I hate this comment. I remember how hard one was. I remember sitting out in the hall every sacrament meeting...crying about how hard it was to sit through church with one child. Now that I have six - that experience has not lessened for me. Children are tough no matter how many you have. They are awesome and wonderful - but they are the hardest, most difficult things I have ever come in contact with. Mothering is not an easy task and we as women need to be a lot kinder to one another. Supportive. Lifting one another up. Including the women who long to be married, who are struggling with infertility, etc.
    This was a great post Molly!

  28. I haven't lost a child, but my firstborn was a lot like Peter (from the way you describe him). I could not control anything he did. He escaped nursery to go play by the road... for example. I saw friends with five and six kids who were in perfect "control" of their kids and I felt judged by everyone because I couldn't handle my one. He has sense been diagnosed with ADHD and I realize that it wasn't actually my parenting that caused it. Especially once number 2 came and she was "normal". We had a big age gap though (in Mormon world anyway)... 4 years. I needed it for my sanity. Anyway, everyone has their own story and reasons for planning their families the way they do. If you are done after this one then everyone else should just bug off. They aren't in your shoes and the decision isn't theirs to make. You are amazing!

    Also, I just wanted to say that I was blown away that you are quoting the round table discussion in here because I just read it this past week for a school assignment at BYUI! We are discussing it this week and your take on it has brought in a lot of ideas that I hadn't even really thought about when I first read it. Thanks for this view point!

  29. Molly, I totally know where you are coming from. I remember when my mom hid her pregnancy with my little sister from her sister and many other family members because she was afraid of what they might say. I remember feeling that our family was finally complete with my little sister- until then, everytime we got together, we were missing someone. I never had that feeling again after my little sister was born. It is a very personal decision to make, How many children should I have? I commend you for listening to your own reservations. No one has to deal with your children the way you do, and what you feel matters most in this circumstance. I am personally in the same boat, as if 4 were not enough, but plenty for me as a working mom.

  30. Well done thou good and faithful servant. . . If you feel that is what the Savior would say to you and your husband, THEN NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. No comments from friends, neighbors, relatives, or strangers. Only you, your husband, and God know when that is.

  31. A very personal decision. I am judged for the opposite and realize more than ever, to each his own. The Lord knows our hearts and our desires and our capabilities. I believe that with all my heart.

  32. thank you. amen. and i love you. thats all.

  33. Thank you. You are brilliant.

  34. There is a reason why people nation-wide know that Utah County has the highest percentage of women on Prozac in the entire US. Maybe it is because of their mindset that they do have to multiply and replenish the earth all on their own. To that I say bah humbug. I am a very active staunch LDS stay at home mom who only wanted 2 children, both girls, and that is exactly what I got. I don't buy this mentality of "oh I know there is one more spirit up there waiting specifically for our family". For my own peace of mind and sanity I could not handle more than the two I already have. So don't feel bad about your decision. There are plenty of us out there.

  35. Thank you Molly. This subject is very heavy on my mind lately as well...like you, I am on my 3rd pregnancy and I am EXTREMELY DONE and torn about how hard motherhood is - wishing I could have more but knowing pregnancy and "more" just won't work for me. You are inspired and thank you for sharing.

  36. This product might help with him getting out of the carseat.


    I have a friend that just bought one, and it has worked so far.

  37. Lots of responses to this! I only hope my words reach you. Not because I want to persuade you in anyway, but to let you know we definitely have had many similar experiences. One being losing a child and two being my first son was much like your Peter is. Upon getting married, I decided about 4 children would be good for me, that was my thoughts, until I had my first child. I vividly remember going on a family vacation with my in-laws where as soon as we sat down at a restaurant he screamed and screamed and there was no consoling him. I finally had to ask for my dinner in a to go box the second it arrived an eat it in the car so the rest of my family AND the entire restaurant could enjoy their meal in peace. After that, I swore I would only have one child. Five earthly children and one angel baby later, I have all these memories to look back on and laugh at. My son was a very "active" child. He too knew how to escape his car seat. I ended up getting one of those safety first child locks that are much like zip ties, but you just press the center to release it. He was relentless, at 3 years old, at escaping our house as well. We took many different measures and to no avail, he would figure it out. We finally got a two way key lock for our doors that you would have to unlock with a key whether you were on the inside or outside. None of my other children have been challenging, although they have challenged me in their own ways. I too have felt the pressure of being categorized, except I have felt it in the sense of being "one of those typical Mormon women" who must have a big family. I've heard the jokes & been the brunt of them. I whole heartedly agree that your family size is such a personal choice. It is such a sensitive subject and a very individual experience. No one person can tell us what is right for us personally. I had a hard time telling people I was on my sixth pregnancy not only for fear of the opinion of my large family, but also the fear of them judging me thinking I was crazy "attempting it again" when I've had a child pass away and another one born 3 months early with a 4 month stay in the hospital. What it all came down to, I couldn't deny my most inner/personal/strong feelings of what I knew what was right for ME. You are your best judge. Listen to your heart & just know the haters are always going to hate!

  38. Pregnant with 4th son...ya, you should hear those comments. But the thing that I wanted to address are the comments about Anti-depressants. I don't think Utah gets a fair shake when it comes to this statistic. I think the reason we are on-top is because LDS women tend not to self medicate (i.e. drugs, alcohol...). I think they see that if there is a problem, there are way better solutions that opening a bottle of wine or sticking a needle in her arm.

  39. I enjoyed Bridget's comments and agree. I think that many times the comments/questions are said/asked out of curiosity. (Although, I still find myself offended sometimes).
    You see, we recieve comments because we have choosen to "multiply and replenish the earth" with LOTS of children! In fact, we just discovered that we will be adding another child to our family. Due to the amount of comments that we recieve because we have "so many children", we decided to limit, for a while, the news to a few family, our children, and a few close friends. I will admit sometimes the comments that others make, make me "feel" ashamed for the choice we made to do whatever it is the Lord would have us do. But, that's just it...We (my husband and I) have been prayerful about these things. We've tried so hard to make sure that we have kept Heavenly Father included in this process. If the Lord would have us raise 20 children, or 2 children, we would because our desire is to serve Him. Why than should we ever be embarrased or feel ashamed for doing what the Lord would have us do? We am on the Lords errand, not the worlds!
    When we first married, it took us two years of trying to FINALLY have a child...and now, we have 7 1/2, and I couldn't be more excited about it.
    It frightens me to loose another child, it's frequently on my mind...especially now. I recognize how fragile life is and that when the Lord call's his children home, it's His will not mine. That however still doesn't make it any easier. But, I know that all things are in the Lords hands, and I can do them all with his hand in my life.
    Don't feel ashamed, less then, or bad by the curious questions/comments that others make. They will always be made, whether they were intended to be hurtful or not....and just like the quotes that you found about judging others, there are many quotes made about not allowing ourselves to be so easily offended. When you are on the Lords errand, you are doing the RIGHT thing. If it means that you end on #3 because you recieved an answer from Heavenly Father, than so be it! It's between you, your husband and the Lord...NOT the ward and it's members! If you decide to extend that number then that too is between you, your husband and the Lord.
    I firmly believe that the answers will come...and they may surprise you.
    I thought that we were done and then recieved the surprise of another...3 times over!...and I wouldn't change it for the world! Even the most horrible comments wouldn't make me question it!
    I pray that you will have the peace that you need to feel comfort again that what you are doing is HEAVENLY...and nothing is better than a Heavenly FAMILY! Take care and Good luck...

  40. Hi Molly, you have no idea how refreshing it was for me to read this post. I have a child that reminds me of Peter in so many ways. Too many ways to list. Needless to say he is very strong-willed, determined....and a shit:) He makes me cry nearly everyday. I'm pregnant with my third too and though I've always thought I would have 4 kids, I'm starting to think that's not the best idea for my mental health. I'm learning to just deal with what I have and give up my "plan." It seems no discipline routine works for my child. The only thing I can say to ease my mind is that children are born this way now. There needs to be strong and determined spirits on this earth at this time. It's the only explanation I can find. I hope one day my little boys characteristics will bless him and help him to make the right choices and to be immoveable in them. As for more kids, "come what may, I say". I won't be given more than I can handle......so I've been told:) You are a great Mom.
    Tera Smith

  41. I am of a different religion but we also embrace large families when it's possible. I had 2 children. My son now has 8 and my daughter has 6. Large families are great but they are lots of work. I help whenever I can, like now that many have the Chicken Pox. It's up to each couple to do what is best for them and their family. I was given 2 because that was best for me. My children are given more because that's what's best for them. When people give their opinions, we must learn to tell them in a nice way, what they should have learned a long time ago. To think before they open their mouths.

  42. We have some good friends in our ward who have two boys and they have decided that they are done. He comes from a family of 12 children and she a family of 5 children. But she knows what her limits are given their situation and her own stress level, etc. She has said that she feels that Heavenly Father knows what she can handle and that He is in agreement with their decision. I think they are right to think the Lord knows them and is ok (even encouraging) of their decision. It's such a personal thing and yet, they also have been judged for it, which is wrong. No one else knows what you can handle given your circumstances and situation. I admit that we also wanted to be done after Gaby, but then we started feeling that we weren't done.

    I'm sorry you have felt so much pressure about this. I hope that it doesn't continue and that you are able to enjoy the influence of your three beautiful children in your life.

  43. I have only 3 children and will only ever have 3 children. I am so DONE! I have had the occassional down on myself days thinking that I must be a failure but recently I have started listening to the Conversations on the Mormon Channel where Sheri Dew will interview different apostles and their wives. It's funny because out of all the wonderful things I have learned about them the thing that stood out the most is how many of them only have 3 children. It's amazing how the Lord will help us see our accomplishments instead of our failures if we only ask him too :)

  44. I have a friend who got a ticket which she DID NOT get out of, because a police officer saw her child hanging out of his window, after he crawled out of his carseat. She did not know he'd gotten out. So Peter and you are not alone in this struggle. Mom's with several kids don't escape these struggles, it's not easier for them, they don't have a knack for this kind of thing but have decided this the fight they're willing to take on. You and I had talked about how some women are the 'right breed' for large families and that's what works for them. I have to say, I must be some plain 'working dog' type breed who just accepts life as hard but I'd love to change my breed and be a pampered poodle at times. I don't think we have to stay inside some mold that comes easy for us. I want a chance to try things that don't come natural to me (like learning to laugh at myself and having fun daily). As far as insensitive Mormons, it's just a human thing. Mormons don't hold the monopoly on this trait. When you know and do what is best for you, peoples opinions won't count as much.

  45. Thank you for writing this Molly. I have been having an issue comparing my family with others. I was diagnosed with a complete molar pregnancy last fall and consequently my 2nd child and my future 3rd(if there is one!) will be furthur apart then I had planned. I've wondered why we compare ourselves with others, especially with something as personal as families? I'm just now starting to be able to stop myself when I start this comparing that does so much more harm then good. I have to remind myself that just because my family will be different then I 'planned' we will be just the way we are supposed to be.

  46. Oh, this is really resonating with me today...after a late miscarriage and then an extremely difficult pregnancy, I have one son. I'd love to have more, but I can't. And I'm so annoyed by and tired of people asking me if I have "just" the one. Yes, I do have "just" the one, but he's a handful, and if I could have more, I would!! I totally get it.

  47. Molly, thank you for your words. After my third baby was a little over 18 months old I started getting a lot of pressure about when I was going to have another. I got so fed up with it that I said I'd let everyone know in five years IF that was going to happen...and if they asked before that time I'd punch them. And I was serious. Deep down I knew I had time to decide whether or not I was "done," but I also didn't want others to tell me when they thought the right time was or speculate on my life while I made such a personal decision. Since then, I think everyone has taken a step back and let me do things how I feel is best for me, my husband and my other children. There are so, so, so many things that go into these decisions. I know it is an incredible act of faith to decide to welcome another spirit into your family, but I can attest to the faith it took to decide not to have a baby too. And for me, waiting did take more faith than forging ahead. I now have a four-month old who has blessed and enriched my life more than I ever thought possible. "Trust in the Lord in all thy doings and he will direct thy paths..." The Lord knows us better than we know ourselves. If we can trust in His will for us we cannot go astray. The trick is to be willing to entrust our lives to Him; everything else follows, including the spirits who are entrusted to our care. And it is just fine to not know all at once what His will for us is at that moment. Am I done bearing children? I don't know. We'll see. I'm just striving to be open and flexible so that whenever a call does come--whether that is a church calling, a call to be there for a family member or to support my husband in his roles--I hope to be ready and willing to accept. And I know when it is the Lord's will He will also let me know the truth of those things.

  48. Sheesh, I'm getting all teary eyed from reading this post, which I wasn't expecting! Other posts I expected, but not this one! I think it's already been mentioned by numerous other people, but I still have to add my voice as well! I think the biggest lesson here is, in the words of Pres. Uchtdorf, if there is anyone judging anyone else for any reason, stop it! Plain and simple! I think the majority of people are doing their best to live, or even just survive, the best they can. I know someone earlier said this, but it seems people judge people no matter what, if they have small families, big families, or anything else that is different from what THEY think, whichever side they are on!

    Caydin was my oldest and first as well, but I already had another daughter when he passed away. We chose to have more children, and I have often felt judged from that decision as we haven't had the best financial situations to bring them into the world with. And, I can't tell you how many times I have wondered if I did my children a disservice by bringing them to our family! Even after almost 7 years, there are still consequences and situations I hadn't planned on that are related to our experience in loosing Caydin. My now "oldest" has struggled for over a year now with separation anxiety disorder, much of which is being caused by a fear of death. She doesn't remember her older brother, but she knows what happened. It is also hard because I look totally normal, but people, especially school teachers, don't always understand that I'm still a bit broken, and not likely to ever be completely whole in this life! It makes things so hard! And then others wonder why I've had so many other children when I seem somewhat incompetent in dealing with them! I love Pres. Uchtdorf's talk "Forget Me Not" for so many reasons, but this passage has meant a lot to me,
    "In the meantime, be thankful for all the small successes in your home, your family relationships, your education and livelihood, your Church participation and personal improvement. Like the forget-me-nots, these successes may seem tiny to you and they may go unnoticed by others, but God notices them and they are not small to Him. If you consider success to be only the most perfect rose or dazzling orchid, you may miss some of life’s sweetest experiences."
    I have to remind myself that while others may not see my tiny successes, Heavenly Father does, and he knows what they mean to us!

    Anyway, I know this is random and kind of scattered, but thank you for sharing and know there are a lot more people who know you and admire you for what you do than the other way around!!


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