From The Depews:
Did you always know you wanted such a large family?
How did you come about having a large family? Did you always know you'd have so many so close, or was it something that kind of happened?Before I met my husband, I never really thought about how many kids I'd eventually have. I knew being a mother was something I wanted to do with my life, but I wasn't one of those girls that spends her days planning her future family, what they'll look like, what their names will be, etc. I didn't date a lot in high school, and to be truthful, I sometimes wondered if I'd even find the right man to marry -- I guess I figured I was old maid material! So most of my plans were in the academic field, though even there, beyond trying to earn as many scholarships I could, I didn't even know what I wanted to study!
I do remember as a very little girl, the fifth of six kids, telling my mother once that I wanted to have only two kids because I wanted to spoil them. I probably told her that right after she told me I couldn't have something I wanted.
When I met my husband my freshman year of college, it was exciting to find someone who was so wonderful and who liked me too! He was smart, determined, hard-working, and dedicated to our faith. He and I met because we were asked to teach a Sunday School class together in our student ward at BYU, and we got to know each other really well as we discussed gospel subjects.
We never really had a surface friendship or superficial conversations. He had returned home just a few months before from serving a mission to Brazil, and he wasn't one to waste time talking about the weather. In fact, on our first date (two weeks after we met and two weeks before he got rid of his other girlfriend), as we drove to a concert in Salt Lake, he turned to me and asked, "How do you feel about children?" (In case you're wondering, I was in favor of them, as was he.) It was the first of many great conversations where we found out we were very compatible.
As we dated more seriously and became engaged, we had lots of conversations about the home and family we wanted to have together. I don't remember ever discussing what number of kids we wanted to have, though, beyond deciding that we wanted "a lot." We both felt that such a decision at that point in our lives was a bit presumptuous and that we'd rather wait and see what the Lord had in store for us and our family. When asked, we'd say the same thing we tell people now, "We'll have as many as come."
A few weeks before my marriage, I was given a priesthood blessing. In our faith, we believe that we can seek special counsel or healing through the power of God through one who holds the priesthood. We don't seek blessings lightly, usually only when we feel a special need, such as when we are beginning a new phase in our lives or when we are dealing with a difficult trial or when we are sick.
During the blessing, I was told a little about the children who would come to our family, and I was promised that my body would be healthy and strong to bear the "many, many souls" who would come to our family. It was a powerful glimpse of the future for me, and afterwards, my husband and I simply stared at each other for a few moments. "Many, many?" one of us asked, "I wonder how many that will be?"
We still don't know, and I don't think we ever imagined our family would grow quite so quickly, but I know we're not there yet! It has been comforting to me over the years to seek God's help and inspiration in planning our family and in reassuring me that somehow, I can do this. It has not always been easy and many times it has taken me a great deal of faith to follow this path, but I have always felt the love of my Father in Heaven and the importance of the work I do in my home.
From The Depews:
Have you and your husband ever disagreed on "the right number?" If so, how did you work through it?We really haven't ever disagreed on our plans for our family, though sometimes I've been more anxious about getting the next one here than he has been. Since we have usually simply allowed our children to come, it hasn't been much of a discussion. He's said a few times, "I hope it's a long time before the next one comes," and I'll ask if he thinks we need to do something to prevent it, but that has never felt right and that's been the end of the discussion.
It helped a lot that we had worked through our feelings and thoughts on this subject before we were married. We'd discussed a lot of important subjects, such as the decision to have me be at home raising our children. This, to me, was one thing I would not compromise on and if my husband had felt differently about the importance of a mother in the home, I would have broken it off. I was glad that we were both committed to it, because we had many lean years as my husband finished school and worked to support our family. We had five kids before he started his career, but we were always blessed with enough, and my children had the privilege of having a mother devoting her full efforts to raising them.
We have always prayed together about the major decisions in our lives and if we ever were to disagree about the number of children, then that's how we'd handle it.
I know you plan on more babies, but have you ever felt 'done'? What if you did? Do you have a magic number? I ask this because I felt very strongly that we were 'done' after Jake. My body had a very difficult time with the pregnancy, and my husband and I both felt pretty strongly that Jake was our caboose. Fast forward to Audrey. She was such a surprise to us! Now, though, we can't imagine our life without her! I feel very much like she was meant to join our family. Now, I still feel very much like our family is complete, but I worry that there are more babies meant to come to our family, KWIM? Once I am pregnant and even more so once they get here, they feel so RIGHT and I am trying to reconcile the fact that we are done, with the fact that I know any others that came would fill a void in our family that I didn't know we had......
I know you plan on more babies, but is there a certain magic number at which you'll say 'enough!'? How will you know when you're done?These are both great questions, and the plain answer is, "I don't know!" We don't have a magic number, though I think we'll probably have more than ten before we're done and less than thirteen.
What I do have is a strong conviction that we have more children ready to come to our family. I don't know how it will feel to be done; I just know what it's like to know our family is still going to grow.
I do hope my children are all here before I'm 40 (I'm 32 right now), and I would really like them all here before my oldest leaves for college, but I don't know if that will happen or not. I certainly don't want to miss out on a baby who is meant to be in our family simply because of some arbitrary number or age cut-off I've decided on.
I really hope that at some point, we'll just know that our family is complete, but I've known a lot of people who have felt done only to be happily surprised by another, like Allison was. My sister, for one, was done for about seven years before little Rachel joined their family. A friend and her husband felt that three kids were just right for them, but a few years later, they are so grateful they changed their minds and had number four. And while I think we are often surprised by life's little twists, I don't think God ever is. I don't think He scrambles around, thinking, "Oh gee, the Smith family is pregnant again and I already sent them all the kids they were supposed to have. Where am I going to come up with another child for them?" I think He knows and loves us and our children and He blesses us according to our faith and desires. While my sister might not have known about little Rachel, God had a plan for her life and her family. The joy she has brought to that home is amazing to watch.
So I look forward to seeing what life holds. It would be really great if I could plan it all out right now, but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun! I used to want to know everything that was going to happen to me and when, but as I've matured, I've gotten better at being happy with knowing enough for now. I love the words of the song, "Lead Kindly Light" that say, in part, "Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see The distant scene—one step enough for me."
How have you and your husband decided on the right number of children? If you are "done," how did YOU know it?