I've miraculously been blessed to find someone to love and be married to, and then also to have children. A huge thank you to my Heavenly Father and Ryan! When meeting someone new, I often fall into this conversation. "Are you guys done?"
Whatever you may believe on this topic, I am fascinated by this conversation and have strong feelings about it. Yesterday I went to a Thanksgiving lunch with Ryan at work. I witnessed this conversation among Ryan and his coworkers and I was a sponge. One guy has three very young kids and is DONE, and came off a bit cynical and tired, but very nice. Another can't wait to have kids with his sweet wife and loves on my little ones as if they were his own. Then you have Ryan with four kids, who apparently is known for breaking into song in the office, always with his "creative" lyrics. I didn't know the other guy well enough to know his family situation. Anyhow, I walked away grateful to be married to someone who loves family life and revels in it, proud to have us come be with him among his work peers. Real family life isn't glamorous, but real fulfillment and joy is found there. We all crave it in different ways I think.
Last night, I watched this conversation play out in my favorite show, BBC's "Lark Rise to Candleford." Since I don't enjoy the benefits and challenges of living near our families, these family dramas feed something in me. It's the next best thing to BBC's "Downton Abbey" and a lot cleaner and uplifting than NBC's "Parenthood."
The only place I can find to watch it is on youtube in 10 minute increments which is tedious but oh so worth it! The meaty part is at the 4:32 mark where this couple discusses if they should and could handle having more children. They live in a poor little hamlet in the 1860s English countryside with four of their five children, It speaks to the rationale that happens in our heads and the feelings of our hearts, something I hold very dear.
If the link above doesn't work, just search youtube for "Lark Rise to Candelford Season 2, Episode 11-5."
Have we set a number? Nope. Ryan and I have simply made it an ongoing discussion. Each time asked we simply say, "We just take each one at a time. At least we hope one at a time! Twins do run in the family, my mom was one!"
I've just spent the past two weeks on an experiment on myself. In my dad's testimony of his conversion to the gospel and the church, he wrote how he experimented with parts of our faith - prayer, reading scriptures, not swearing, going to church on Sundays, etc. So I decided to do my own experiment. I love to sleep, but I am a night owl. Yet I have been waking up early for the past two weeks to get my scripture study in before everyone else is up. It hasn't been easy. I have really enjoyed it. As I thought about it this morning after the crazy morning rush to get everyone out the door, I realized how this experiment has begun to change me in three ways in just two weeks.
1) I am excited to wake my kids up in the morning and love on them a little, even though some of them don't feel happy about having to join the world. Last week this helped me do something for Easton on a rough day and he shared at dinner that I was his "warm fuzzy" of the day! I hope my moment of loves fuels them through rough days.
2) I am more hopeful as I tackle the mundane or unwelcome surprises that are my chores or tasks. I don't despair as much at the state of my house and just do what I can, hoping it will be enough. I will say I do run out of hope sometimes through the day and need to work on that (earlier bedtime, better meals, exercise?!). One. Thing. At. A. Time. Rome wasn't built in a day, right?
3) I feel closer to promptings of the Holy Ghost, making time each day to follow them and it's often to reach out to someone else in love and friendship. I love having friends!
So the experiment will continue. What does this have to do with the conversation of how many children to have? As our lives fill up more with these little people to raise, I am recognizing more and more how selfish I tend to be so easily. In order to raise these kids into good people, I have to sacrifice a lot of my guilty pleasures. But those pleasures don't hold anything of true value and meaning when I step back.
When I put my spiritual well-being literally first on my priority list of the day, my heart is open and ready for my family and my day. I don't keep a spotless house. I won't be walking down a runway any time in this life or have an etsy shop. I don't lead a life worthy of news by the leaders of my communities, but I love my life. It is full and messy, but worth all the work and self-sacrifice because it makes me better than who I am without it. I choose marriage. I choose children. I choose motherhood. I choose faith. I feel truly blessed and I am happy.