"The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force." ~The Family: A Proclamation to the World
There's a common joke in the world today when people see a large family. It goes something like this:
"Are you Catholic...? or Mormon...? Ha ha ha!"Really, it's a very OLD joke, because I think we all can see that there are actually not many Catholics or Mormons having large families these days. (I'm only guessing about the LDS birth statistics, but being an active member who moves around a lot, I think I have a fairly good grasp of the average size of most active LDS families. Of course, we still have larger families than most, but anyone can attend a church activity or meeting and see that LDS family sizes are noticeably shrinking from what they once were.)
There are the occasional exceptions to this (like our family), but as a rule, most families, regardless of religion, routinely use birth control or sterilization to stop having children.
|Five of my seven lovely daughters, posing after church.|
Multiply and Replenish
Today's definition of a "large family" is very different from what it used to be. I have heard gasps of disbelief and exclamation when I have overheard young LDS (Mormon) moms tell someone that they have-- wait for it-- FIVE children.
The responses range from "Wow, you're a SAINT!" to "Are you CRAZY?" and even "Oh, my gosh. I would KILL MYSELF!"
When people ask how many children I have, I respond in various ways, based on the situation. Sometimes, when I can tell that they might go into shock if they really knew the actual number, I smile and say "A lot." Most of the time, it's just a question people ask to begin small talk. Usually they are not looking for something as earth-shattering as hearing that I have had a dozen children from my own body, no twins.
I mean, who could be THAT insane?
|Brennan with Grayse|
Training for Real Life
I think one of the shocking things about having lots of children to many people in our society is that they imagine that I have a dozen two-year-olds running around, driving everyone crazy, and tearing my house apart.
But then, when it occurs to them that I have older children, they start to talk about how nice it is to have older kids to help. Unfortunately, often they then go into how they hope my big kids get a chance to have fun, and that they aren't "raising my children for me."
Yeah, they uncovered my evil plot: I have more children that cost money, time, effort, resources because I want to enslave my older children so they never have any fun. No fun allowed. EVER.
One thing they have right. I want my older kids to know what it is to be a parent. I want them to think about someone else's needs outside of their own. I want them to grow up knowing how to love and serve others. I want them to know that the universe does not entirely revolve around them.
Diabolical, I know...
|My five handsome sons|
Suffer the little children to come unto me
There is a relatively new movement of Evangelical Christians having large families. (A very famous family, the Duggars, are part of this growing philosophy. And yes, we love their show at our house!) They call it "Quiver-Full," and I have been asked by people who don't know what my religion is if I am part of it.
I have said yes. Which is kind of true, because I know what the movement is about, and I happen to agree with the principles of it, even though I'm not Baptist.
I've also said, "No," and then explain that I am LDS (Mormon). Sometime, when I give that answer, the person may back away slowly, nervous of what I might say next. But then, they might remember the old joke about Mormons and Catholics, and now have a story to tell about a REAL, LIVE Mormon lady they actually met who had a ton of kids.
Hey, I'm willing to provide that service! But no, my pathetic obsession with being the center of attention is not the reason I have a large family. I promise.
I have children because that is what the Lord has commanded my husband and I to do.
And no, I am not now going to go into a diatribe about how selfish other couples are, and about how evil birth control is, or about how I'm trying to buy my way into heaven by having a houseful of children. (This is for the fellow LDS sister who asked me the other day why I wasn't translated yet.)
All I am saying is that the Lord has asked me, through personal revelation from the Holy Ghost, to welcome each and every one of these children of His into my heart, my home, and my family.
I don't know for certain all the reasons why the Lord wants me to have this many children, but I DO know that I am far, far, FAR from perfect, and that this is one way the Lord is teaching me to get over myself by serving others.
I am fully aware that I still have a LONG WAY to go.
|My mom with her siblings and my grandmother.|
Doing My Part
Growing up, I always knew that I personally wanted a large family. I come from a long line of large families, especially from my mom's side of the family tree. My mom is number five of eight children, and I have always LOVED being with my entire extended family. My very BEST memories of my childhood are tied to those close, loving, BIG, family relationships. I knew that I wanted to be just like my beautiful and stalwart grandmother by having a large posterity around me forever. To this day, that vision of having all my children and grandchildren around me throughout my life thrills me to no end.
And I already get to have that joyful noise and warmth around me EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. My life is filled with joy!!! How could I regret inviting any of these awesome people to be such a big part of my life? How? How? HOW?
I couldn't. And I haven't. I feel really good about that.
Now that I have a big--okay, MEGA-sized-- family, I am learning all kinds of really neat things about big families.
The reality of life is that the world needs CHILDREN.
It's actually kind of scary.
Who will be the next generation of citizens, parents, teachers, leaders, when so many of them are tragically slaughtered in the U.S. and all over the world every single day?
There are governments practically BEGGING their citizens to have children, entire ad campaigns dedicated to helping a country be more friendly to children, and yet the birth rates fall to dangerously low levels. Cultures are being lost. Our very futures are at risk because so few people are having children.
My heart breaks for those I know and love that have not been able to surround themselves with all the children they hoped and planned for.
Infertility is a HUGE problem, and it frustrates me to see how so many wonderful couples want children, and then compare that to how many couples reject welcoming children in to their families.
I don't know how to sort all that out, and I'm grateful I don't have to! But I know that the Lord is over all, and that He will work it all out in the end.
|Our precious twelfth child, Davy|
It should come as no surprise to my readers that I am now expecting my thirteenth baby, due in mid to late April of 2014.
Am I surprised?
Yes, and no. I really thought our Davy was the last.
But then, I thought that about baby #7, and then about baby #10, and then about baby #12.
The Lord is asking me to step into the dark once again. He wants me to trust His plan and bring one more baby into our family and into the world.
I have had some very sacred experiences with the spirits of my unborn children. I am careful about what I share, but I can honestly say that I know that each one of my children is supposed to be here. I know that they are meant to be a part of our family-- that God sent them specifically to my husband and me to raise.
I am doing my very best to help them return to our Father in Heaven. Thank goodness for the Lord's help in doing so!
I assure you that I feel that responsibility keenly, and that I take it very, VERY seriously. None of my children are "a mistake." They were invited by my husband and I, and they were sent by God.
I testify of the divinity of parenthood. It is a holy calling and the greatest work ANY of us can do. I am so grateful for the chance to be a small part of the grand design.
With gratitude and joy,