2.20.2010

FAMILY MATTERS

One of the first serious fights that Erik and I ever got into as a married couple was about the size of our future family. He wanted at least six kids and I wanted no more than four. During the argument, I specifically remember him saying repeatedly that six kids seemed decent, but four was way too small of a family.

Can you blame him? Erik came from a family with nine kids. Take a look at this photo of Erik's family right after his brother, Steffen, was born in 1986. (No, that is not a preschool or a primary.) At the time, my mother-in-law was two years younger than I am now.

Holy Cow (1986)

When I asked Erik if he remembers it being crazy with that many kids (and they would later add 2 more to the bunch), he said, "No, not at all!" I'm not sure if his parents had amazing patience or just amazing survival skills. All I know is that I bow down to my mother-in-law in awe.

Our Little Family (1982)

I come from a "small" family of four. Ironically enough, I remember my house being really crazy. There was lots of yelling and fighting among us girls. It was never as peaceful as one would expect with such a "small" family. Looking back, I can't believe my parents even had four kids. That seems huge to me now.

I don't know anyone who has nine kids anymore. I wonder why that is. Eight years have passed since our argument about family size and our perspective has completely changed. Erik gave up the hope (and desire) to have six kids many years ago. Besides, we started too old for that. In the past, I doubted whether or not we would even have one child, so I feel extremely blessed just to have two. If that's all we have, we're fine. Besides, these little boys are tiring us out. Yes. We are wusses.

In the Mormon world, it seems like women feel obligated to explain their family size to other women. Is it really that awful to only have two or three kids? I would hate to think that we're all judging each other's family size, but maybe that's naive of me to think that we're not.

21 comments:

  1. No judging from me. The only time I might do a little of that is when I see a family with 5 kids under the age of 4 in the grocery store. Then I just think they are straight crazy. But that is only in Provo.

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  2. It must be the people I'm around -- you know -- the ones that say things you'd never think people would say aloud...

    Real quotes (among so many others):
    "It looks like you're doing well, so when are you starting your family?"(to which we would give some politically correct answer).
    "How does it feel to go against the advice of the prophet?" (When we didn't immediately procreate I and I continued with school).

    After that and monthly questions or insinuations by other that I should be or appear pregnant, I've just started telling people that my uterus is broken and that I'm lucky to have one. That shuts 'em up pretty quick.

    Too many comments have really made me defensive about it. And I know that I shouldn't care, but it's so hard not to. Move to a new area. Trying to make friends. etc.

    I think I could start a support club and repeat these stories for years to come. I'm good at repeating stories. Or so I've been told.

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  3. LOVE these pics- old family photos are the best! At first I thought this was your way of announcing another kid! :) I've always been in awe of big families. One of our past bishops had 12 kids- every Sunday I would sit and count all of the kids (wondering how in the world they could keep track of em all)!! My mom came from 9 kids, I come from 6. I've always wanted alot of kids, but then Spencer's said NO MORE than 4! I'm starting to think he's got the better idea! I really think the world is different now than it used to be. Four is the new six and TWO is the new four! :)

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  4. Wow do people really judge others for not having enough children? Sheesh maybe the men should start doing some of the birthing and give the women a year off!

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  5. 2 kids sounds lovely. We are even worried about that many.

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  6. My parents only had 2 kids and I can remember LDS people asking me why my mom had "only" two kids- it makes me sad that people really care about how many kids other people choose to have! I didn't feel "jipped" at all having one sibling, in fact I loved having a small family. Cody and I have set our cap at 3 kids and for those who want to judge, bring it on! Ü

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  7. I think it is so ridiculous for people to judge a mother by how many children she has. I give BIG props to mothers who have lots of children, but I don't think that mothers who don't have as many are any less of a mother. I am guilty of envying mothers of lots of children though. I just don't get how they do it, and I wish I had what it takes! I would love to have a ton of kids because I love being a mom and I love kids (not simply because I'm LDS); but the more I have, the more I want to spread them out because I'm not that good at spreading myself so thin! Anyway, I can't agree more with your post though! In my opinion, the best mom is the mom who knows when to stop so she can really be there for her kids and ENJOY them. For some of us that's after 1 and some after 19.

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  8. I think also, that more of the judging goes to those who have big families, which is also sad. Sometimes I'll get dirty looks from people when I'm pregnant and out shopping with my three kids. I want to say, "Yes, I know I'm young and about to have four kids but that's my decision and I'm happy with it!"

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  9. I agree that there are both sides of judging. And it's none of people's business anyway. I really believe that small and large families are both good for different reasons and could be potientially not good for different reaseons as well. This is a big topic. But since we do have 6 (and we are done) I can say that I have felt the judging on the other side especially when our kids were really young. I always try to have my kids looking their best and being polite when they go to school and church becuase I do worry that people will think that "there are just too many kids at that house and no one pays attention to them." I think it's all in how you decide to parent no matter how many you've got. I would love to have 10 if I felt I could be the kind of mother each of them needed me to be. But I don't think that's in the cards. :)You are such a great mom Cristin. And I've love all your other posts lately too, just haven't had a free minute to comment. And Happy Birthday too!

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  10. i get rude comments all the time about only having 2 kids. people are crazy and think they know whats best for you. Bottom line, yes LDS women judge, and regardless of family size there should be no justification needed.

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  11. I've definitely learned that there are a lot of women who can handle more kids than I can. My experience as a mother has shrunk my children estimate from 6 to 4 to maybe one more, but no guarantees.

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  12. Obviously there is judging on both sides. Coming from that family of nine kids... people often wonder what were my parents thinking, but after talking to my mom about it, she said she did it on faith. So regardless of how many kids you have or might have, having children is telling Heavenly Father you have faith in Him and trust Him. You are willing to push that envelope and push past your own doubts and uncertainties and uncomfortablness and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost if you feel prompted to have more children. And that is why we can't judge family size because we are not the one receiving revelation for that family.

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  13. I'm thrilled with our family of 3. That gives us exactly 3 more kids than the Doctors told us we'd be able to have. I am nothing if not persistent! I would have liked to have had one more but felt it was more important to keep their Dad instead (he was done).

    Each person has to do what's right for them. The judging goes both ways but I think it's actually harder on big families. My old college roomate hit the double digits with her last baby and even here in UT, she gets lots of negative feedback for that choice.

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  14. sometimes having the decision taken OUT of your hands is a blessing in disguise :) imagine being able to pick your childs birthday even before they are conceived - and then factor in a differing of opinion as to how many is the RIGHT amount...makes for A LOT of stress on a marriage :( just sayin...

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  15. That was fun seeing old family photos!

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  16. I HAVE heard moms of very big families say that they "just don't understand why some people would only have a few kids and stop there"... I have so much to say about this, but I will try to keep it brief. That is amazing to those families that can raise that many kids, but there are SO many factors to take into consideration as to why some people just don't have "large" families. First, I always look to the prophets and apostles. President Monson has 3 kids. President Uchtdorf has 2 kids and Elder bednar has 3 kids, just to name a few. I mean lets just say that Sister Uchtdorf felt that it was important to have a big family (to God or for whatever reason) than even if she wasn't able to conceive or deliver more than 2, WHY didn't they adopt more kids? Obviously it goes the same for the prophet and everyone else. I don't personally know anyone who has a "large family" who didn't start having that family before they were much older than 21. Most of us didn't get married quite that young. And obviously most people aren't able to concieve a baby every 9-12 months. There are so many other reasons than just this, that people have no right to judge.

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  17. I so agree with everyone! Everyone reaches their limit at a different number! I also agree that what we think is our limit and what God thinks is our limit can be two different things, either way! So I really liked the comment about having faith.
    Having kids in today's world is so different! When our parents were kids they would go out to play all day going everywhere and their parents knew when they called them in for dinner all of them would come back safe and sound!
    And you also have to factor in all the costs of raising children... And well I am not going to even get started:0)!

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  18. I do admit to wondering why one family has only two children, or why one has seven. But that is just curiosity or human nature, not because I'm think they should have had more or less.
    For some it really is a choice, but I know there are so many couples out there that don't get to "chose" how many children they have. Sometimes I feel a little guilty we had ours so easily when I see women around me who have fought through so much to have the one or two, or five or ten, or whatever number they have.
    I also admit to feeling a little envy for those who feel they "know," for whatever reason, when they are done. What happens when you don't?
    We never talked about the number of children we were going to have before we had kids because I don't think we felt we had any idea. Though I was pretty sure after I had my first it wouldn't be nine like Erik's family!
    I also feel like numbers are a pretty poor way of judging it. I believe some kids are just harder than others--I don't care what others say. Rebecca was so rough I feel I was saintly to even have considered another child. Course then I had John...
    Love the family pics.

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  19. I have restrained from commenting but have to say one thing....the comment about the "times" and the "costs or expense" of having children....that has not changed. I'm still raising our 10 year old and have two in college unmarried...so I know about expense and "the times". Mothers' have more things on the computer to take up their time, though, than when I was raising my first 8 kids...:-) The incomes and expenses of things were all relative....we have never had a lot of money. If you wait until you have "money" and the perfect job and your education and you own your own home and get 2 cars, etc. etc....you won't ever have children. The "70's and "80's" of raising a family were still full of the same challenges as today....housing and costs were lower, but so were incomes.
    I do appreciate the comments about judging people on the size of the family, though. I know that is wrong by anyone...small or large family. I can't tell you how many comments I endured in the years of raising my family or the "looks". My favorite is when total strangers would ask me if I was going to have any more???? Who asks that???? When I see a mother in a store or out in public with 1 or more children, I always try to praise her in some way or another...especially if her kids are acting less than "perfect"! Parenthood is a huge experience and I'm so thankful for those who still strive to have a family and not just get a "pet" and call that their child because it's easier to deal with! Don't get me started on the choice of having a dog vs. a baby!!! Another day! (if that is politically incorrect to say...so be it.) I love and admire all of you mothers out there. You are doing a GREAT thing in having children and spending your life in their behalf!

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  20. Wow. What a HOT topic, Cristin! Excellent comments above. Gotta agree with Kaci-- excellent analysis of some G.A. family trends.

    I say it's YOUR uterus and YOUR sanity that have to be considered.

    You should share some childhood stories of those cat fights with your sisters, haha!

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  21. Btw, what would Lollie say about all this? I miss your Lollie-posts!

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