I am excited to share this guest post written by Cherylyn. She is a powerful force for good in the birth blogging world, and I’m happy to know her. Cherylyn is a mom of six who’s figuring it out as she goes. She’s a birth doula, aspiring midwife, and author of the Mamas and Babies blog and its accompanying pages on Facebook and Google +. –Lani

Hands Full
By Cherylyn

“You’ve got your hands full!”

That’s the most common thing I hear when I’m out with my kids. Even if I only have the youngest three or four with me. Maybe it’s because they’re fairly close in age, or maybe it’s the sight of me with a baby on my chest in the wrap and one on either side of me holding my hand. Sometimes I have all six kids with me, and that’s when people simply stare.

Even in Utah where “big” families are more common than in other areas, the socially acceptable number of children seems to be getting smaller. Growing up in California with five siblings, we were stared at and people would ask my parents if we were all theirs, and “How many children do you have?!” Still, to me, it was normal. It was what I knew, and life was good. I wanted that for my own children.

We never talked about how many children we would have. My husband and I both came from what society would consider big families, and we had an unspoken desire to have a big family as well. We wanted our children to have the companionship of many siblings and the joy of a loving family. We also desired to follow the commandment to “multiply and replenish the earth.”

My husband’s ongoing struggle with chronic illness interfered with work, finances, and daily functions in general. We couldn’t plan for a large family without feeling an intense burden and wondering how we would ever manage to get by from day to day, let alone from month to month or year to year. He often felt overwhelmed just providing for and taking care of each child we had, and couldn’t imagine having more. At times he expressed a desire to be “done” and relieve the ever-increasing burden he felt as a father to provide for his family. I felt strongly there were more spirits waiting to come to our family, and I listened to his concerns and continued to pray and seek the Lord’s will and wait patiently. We took it one child at a time.

We’ve been blessed with tender mercies along the way. While pregnant with our fourth, a voice spoke to me, whispering “Don’t forget about me,” and a child’s spirit has appeared to my husband more than once. We felt the presence of another child who wasn’t here yet, sometimes in a dream, sometimes just a comforting feeling that she was there. Many times I would count heads, counting everyone, and feel as though we were still missing someone. Each time a child was born, we knew that waiting spirit had not yet come. Even after two miscarriages, we prayed and felt we should keep trying. She still hasn’t come, and we look forward to the day she’ll join our family. I think we’ll know when that time comes.

When I’ve felt overwhelmed by life, I’ve found myself on my knees, asking the Lord to bless us with the means to provide for the children He’s sending us, temporally and spiritually. We’ve not been disappointed. Despite ongoing challenges, our needs are always met. I find that when we follow His direction we are in turn given access to blessings to help us with what we’ve been asked to do. As our family increases in size, so does our faith, and we feel encouraged to move forward.

We enjoy our children every day. There’s a chaos to six children under 12, and yet a peace and joy to it as well. We find our parenting and lifestyle have changed to better suit our growing family, and we’re enjoying the journey. Our family is our top priority and most treasured blessing.

I find if my focus is on my family, most of the time I don’t even notice if someone is staring. Even when the judgmental comments come, I’m able to shrug it off because I realize that they simply don’t understand my perspective and the gratitude I have to the Lord for blessing me with a quiver full. I know these days will pass and I’ll miss watching them grow and learn. I’m told I’ll even miss the diapers and laundry.

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” (Psalms 127:3)

I love having my hands full.

Author

9 Comments

  1. Oh thank you for this article! I am expecting my 7th and I have had many of those same experiences in regards to future children. Especially when “counting heads”. It usually happens when we are waling into church and the kids are scattered in front of me and I am making sure we have everyone, and I feel like we are missing someone. This feeling always goes away as soon as I become pregnant again. It is like that little soul is saying “don’t foget me!” I love hearing when people have similar experiences.

    • I’ve been having that “someone’s missing” feeling a lot lately. Uh oh! 😉

      • Ha! Ha! Me too Lani. Cherylyn, thank you for your post. I know what you mean. I get the “hands full” comment too. But I say better full than empty. Part of me dreads the time when there will no longer be little ones on their way. Our local theater did a production of Saturday’s Warrior that I attended recently. I had seen it as a youth but it was different watching it as a mother with her hands full knowing that I plan to fill them even more.

  2. As a mom of four little girls, a baby on the way and living in southern California I also feel the struggle of raising a big family. Feeling spirits on the other side is both a blessing and a burden sometimes because it puts so much pressure on us to fulfill our life plan when as mortals sometimes it makes no sense. I guess that’s were faith comes in. Thanks for the post. I needed to read this.

    • I know exactly what you mean about that intuition being both a “blessing and a burden,” Angela! I feel that I have two spirits waiting to come to our family, and I want to do the right thing and welcome them, but it feels so overwhelming to think about trying to care for any more children (I have four). Your faith is inspiring.

  3. Oh, I loved this. I loved how you said that the Lord always has provided for you temporally and spiritually. I am discovering that in my own life. It is incredible. Not long ago a friend who is not LDS and who is thinking about starting a family asked me about how we could afford all our children (my husband is still in school and I have 3 under the age of 4). It was so powerful for me to bear my testimony to her that the Lord takes joy in life and that somehow he always provides for his little ones. There is an old saying, “Each baby is born with a loaf of bread under its arm” it is SO TRUE! The lord always blesses those who accept the responsibility of parenthood.

  4. Wow, this is a powerful reminder of trusting that God will provide a way and if we have faith we can do it! It is a huge decision to “choose” to have a child. I know many sneak their way into families, but so many of us have to actually choose and it isn’t always an easy choice.

  5. Lovely. I have four children and know that one more is waiting. That little child is more patient than me, because I am very excited to meet him! And I’m not even pregnant yet. 🙂

    I think the first 2 or 3 kids in a family can be the hardest number of kids of all; they don’t have as many siblings to play with, and you as a parent don’t have the older kids to help with the younger (we had our first 3 in less than 4 years). As our kids age, and they are able to play together and look after their siblings more pro-actively, the burden gets shared a bit and we all work together as a family unit. The prospect of having more children isn’t nearly as daunting to me now because I have seen for myself how helpful and caring my kids can be to each other.

    I don’t think things are cut and dry with finances for some families; they have lots of children and truly struggle, but that doesn’t mean they are any less blessed than a family with abundance.

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