Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Family Planning: It's None Of THEIR Business!

Today we'll have the pleasure of hearing from a woman who often blogs from the wild side of Motherhood...but somehow, even when she tells it like it is--messes, spills, tantrums, and all--life with four kids ages five and under still ends up seeming...pretty wonderful!  Here is Serene of Serene Is My Name, Not My Life...

True Stories 

At the time, I had two small children, ages 2 and not quite 1, and I was several months pregnant with our surprise baby number three.

I was loading the two kids into the car when the mail lady, whom I have NEVER spoken to before, stops me and asks, “Are these two kids yours?”

“Yes.” I replied smiling.

“And you’re pregnant again?”

I really wanted to say, well obviously but instead I came back with a rather profound “Yup.”

She stared at me for a minute, as if evaluating my very intelligence.

Finally, she responded. “Ummm, I have some uh, reading material on how all this happens if you would like it.”

Needless to say, I was rendered speechless.

I flew by myself from Utah to Florida with my three children ages 3, 2, and 8 months. (that was a whole experience in and of itself)

As I was walking out of the terminal, looking for my family, a lady approached me.

“Oh, what adorable children! Are you the nanny?”

“Nope,” I replied with my best smile on, “I’m the mommy.”

She stared for a moment, then spun on her heel and walked away without another word.

We had moved into a new ward and didn’t know very many people yet.

I was conversing with a few other adults when the man in the group turned to me and asked my due date.

I told him and in turn, asked about his wife’s due date.

After telling me, he asked, “Now this is your second one too, right?”

I laughed a bit, braced myself and replied, “No, no. This is my fourth.”

And I kid you not. His eyes about doubled in size as he pointed his finger at me and firmly declared.“You’re crazy! You. Are. Crazy!”

My name is Serene and I had four children in four and a half years. And before you ask, yes, we do want more.

Now, I am in no way unique. There are oodles of women out there that had all sorts of large numbers of children under all sorts of wildly young ages. My own mother had her first seven children in only eight years.

On the flip side, there are oodles of women out there who would love to be in my shoes, but struggle to conceive or carry children. I personally know many, and they are amazing women.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that we didn’t exactly plan it this way. I’ll also be the first to admit that I really don’t enjoy being pregnant, at all.

I voted for the stork in the pre-existence.

Just sayin’.

But our little situation is what it is, and I love it. The thing I don’t love? People who feel like they have a say in our “family planning”.

The family proclamation states, “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.”

No, we are not trying to do that single-handedly for pete’s sake. But whether I want one kid, six kids, eight, or heaven help my poor, screaming uterus, twelve or fifteen, than fine! It’s none of their business!

In turn, people who have no kids, only one, or have them spaced years and years apart, it’s none of our business! And while sometimes these situations are by choice, you’ll find that often, it isn’t.

People are different. People’s situations are different. It’s a wonder that that is so hard for us to remember as we jump to conclusions about someone.

I so wish people would stop judging, snickering, guessing, gossiping, and butting in. The decisions people make about their family are between them and the Lord.

So while I may not particularly enjoy having all my curling irons plunged into the toilet by my children, I no longer feel embarrassed when the check-out person at the grocery store feels the need to remark on the fact that I look too young to have four kids, and then ask how old I am.

Because it’s none of their business.

And because I thoroughly plan on doing my very best as a mother. After all, the proclamation does state that, “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness....”

I am hardly perfect and there are days I have to lock myself in my room to keep from loosing it for the fifth time in one day.

But with the Lord’s help, I’m doing my best.

And that’s all that matters.

Thank you so much for that, Serene!

Now, it's time to link-up your Family Proclamation Posts from the last couple of days:

There have really been some amazing ones so far, so I hope you all go back and read them!

And remember the party favors for this week:

16 X 20in Canvas print of LDS Temple
a canvas print of your choice
in the size of your choice
  Click here to see the pictures you can choose from...

Skittles and Scraps

a $50 Gift Certificate to the digi-scrapbooking site Skittles & Scraps!

a personalized glass photo keepsake necklace (or item of your choice)

Pyper Style Scripture Tote

Come what may poster

"Come What May And Love It." Print

RESERVED FOR - The Family Proclamation Celebration -  Fabric Covered Book of Mormon - Pocket Scriptures

Fabric-covered Book of Mormon (Pocket-sized)


  1. Love this, Serene! I wrote about (almost) the exact same thing over on Chocolate on my Cranium today for the same proclamation celebration. This whole baby business is fiercely personal, and it should be! You go, little mama. :)

  2. This life is all about free agency...I was raised as an only child and have always missed having siblings. So when I married I knew I wanted more than one child. I had 4 sons and loved each one of them...

  3. Serene-- did you ever teach book binding at BYU? I think you were my teacher! And an awesome one at that. Who knew you were a great writer, too?! Thanks for your thoughts on this, I completely agree. It just irks me the whole day when someone sees me with my two little kids and says, "Boy, you've got your hands full!" when I think I'm doing a pretty good job of things.

  4. Oh, my, did you make me laugh. As a Catholic mother of four, I feel your "pain." When our fourth was on the way...the youngest at the time was 5. I was often rudely "reminded" that those Catholics and their rhythm method shouldn't be trusted. I usually replied with something like... "Well, we took dance lessons and thought our beat was pretty good!" Great post. Thanks

  5. Heather, no way! Seriously! I sure did teach bookbinding at BYU and I loved it! Wow, small world! Have you been keeping it up at all?

    And I'm loving everyone's comments so far!

  6. that is so funny...and immediately I remembered the mom in the original Cheaper By The Dozen....get the real one out...not the stupid one recently. The original one was about the true Dozen and the dad. Have as many kids as you can......and raise up a righteous generation but make sure you have time for self.

  7. It sure is a small world, because Heather and I grew up in the same ward together!!!

  8. That is so great, I love people! Keep doing what you love:)

  9. Thanks for this! I had my first three in 3 years and grew tired of all the "well meaning" people giving me advice on our family. So glad to see others out there who are taking a stand for raising Godly families =)

  10. Way to not care what people think and do what you know is best for you and your family.

  11. I whole heartedly agree! I hate the comments. I just wish people REALIZED it was none of their business.

  12. I do have to say though that most of the comments I get are nice comments from older people who have "been there". It can be encouraging when they smile sweetly and say, "You're children are beautiful...You're doing great!" I think some people just don't know quite the way to properly encourage Mothers like us, but they'd like to...and "Gee, you've sure got your hands full" to them sounds like a compliment! It's well-meaning!

  13. Oh AMEN! I was told I was sinning a huge and amazing sin because we only have 3...never mind that I am not able to have more and I so wish I could...or that we are going through the adoption process. I am sinning. What a sorry world we live in when people feel free to judge us as mothers and family planners!

    Thank you for the wonderful post!

  14. I live in New Jersey and that same thing happens to me all the time...people giving me dirty looks and rude comments about my 4 kids (and 4 isn't really that many). It used to really bother me but now it doesn't. But what I've been equally amazed at is the amount of people that think it's great and say "God Bless" (they say that a lot out here). Lots of people out here don't even have kids (they have dogs) and yet they are still kind to others and I think that is great. To each is own and I say, the more the merrier. :)

  15. I loved this post. It's amazing what people say. I have 5 children and we were getting out of the car at Walmart:) and I had someone say it looks like one of those clown cars they just keep coming. I just smiled and said yes they do. I'm grateful for each of my kids although there are those days I wonder what in the world I was thinking.:) Each of them have something wonderful that they bring to the family and it is so amazing how your love just keeps growing for each child. Thanks again for your post.

  16. Serene, having raised six children we got those comments all the time. And to top if off, our sixth child was born with a disability that we knew about before his birth. Oh, my. Those comments were sad, like, "you knew beforehand, and you had him anyway??". You are so right, it's just none of anyone's business. It is between us and the Lord! We are quite happy, thank you!! Wonderful post!!

  17. great article Your right it is no one elses business.
    I have one Son and one Daughter
    we wanted more But were unable to have any more.

    Although I count myself so blessed. when we were in the stages of infertility I got comments like "well you should be happy you have one of each isn't that enough!"
    Yes I do count my blessings for the 2 children I have. and I realise now that Heavenly father knows us well . and he knows our future and due to some health problems I have endured over the last few years It was probably for the best.

    But I love children and It warms my heart when I see such cute families with multiple children.

  18. Oh my...the mail lady?!?! I thought I had it bad with the glares and the occasional "Got enough kids there *snort*."
    *siiiiigh* I try to be patient with people's snarky comments, but I'm really tired of being left shocked and with no reply. Thankfully, I've never gotten one of those "you know how this happens" comments. That might just send me over the edge;)
    You have a beautiful family!!

  19. I agree with Jocelyn that most comments are meant to be nice or at most curious. I have a handful of downright rude ones. They usually make me laugh.

    Enjoy the "you look to young to have that many" comments, though. I USED to get them all the time, it isn't so fun when they stop coming.

  20. I really enjoyed this post! Serene I totally agree with you. I was unable to have children for the first 5 years of our marriage (almost). So I got a slightly different approach. I got asked all the time "When are you going to have kids?" Or told "You have plenty of time." Some days I could take it in step and move along but other days it would throw me into a tizzy. There were also some people who thought I was putting myself before my family by choosing a career. That one was the worst by far. I wanted children so badly. It's hard not to judge sometimes but this was a great reminder that we shouldn't judge and that our families our personal. Thanks so much!

  21. Great post, Serene. We have five and we got this comment all the time. We still do when people realize we have 5. Drives me crazy.

  22. OH i can't believe people said some of the things you said... My oh my.
    You are right. It is NONE of their business when of how far apart you have your kids. The Lord knows what we are capable of.
    And for this I am glad.
    Because I KNOW I would not be capable of what you have done. i would explode. Heck, I explode now with the 3 i

    but you love me..You know you do.
    As I you. :) You keep having those ridiculously CUTE kids...someone HAS to have a mate now don't they?
    Love you.
    Great post as always!

  23. And I hope you find no offense in my above comment...I didn't mean anything by
    i think I worry too much.
    I LOVE the picture of your kids at the end.
    You look at that picture and realize how worth all the WORK you do for them is Right?
    underwear on the ceiling and all.
    That's what i thought.

    U Serene are a lovely person and a WONDERFUL Mom.
    Thanks for writing!

  24. Deirdre -- you crack me up!!!! I've never gotten the "rhythm method" comment, but I LOVE your response! (If only I had the courage to say something like that!!!)

    Serene -- great post! I read this one after the Cranium post, and I have to say that you both present good sides of the "family planning" issue. AND I can relate!

    I have two-year-old twins (just barely) and am expecting #3 any day now. And they were BOTH surprise pregnancies (not following the "rhythm" method, but just getting our marriage started with a good dose of humility). Dave calls the twins our honeymoon souvenirs, and this one is . . . our leap of faith on all counts! We will celebrate our third anniversary in December . . . with one child for each year before the year is even up.

    And since we just moved to California, I get more than my share of comments, even from well-meaning friends (one actually said, "I don't know if you've had sex more than twice since you got married, but I would think you'd start to learn something for the next time you do and aren't pregnant yet). Yeah. Pretty awesome!

    I have been reminded this morning of a talk by Pres. Packer from BYU Women's COnference 2006 entitled "Children of God." If memory serves me correctly, it's a great read for anyone -- LDS and Catholic and everything in between (or otherwise). Here's the (long) link:

  25. This just happened to me last night... unfortunately my kids were acting in such a manner that I was tempted to deny the relationship. Instead I just looked the lady in the eye, laughed and used that incredibly intelligent answer.."yep".

  26. I love this post! I went shopping with my 4 kids last week and got the response from a salesman about having quite a crew with me. I just looked him in the eye and said "Yup. That's how we roll." My husband and I both come from big families and love having 4 kids. Being in a predominately LDS area I get both sides of it....The "Are you done yet?" or the "So when are you gonna have another one?" We're still young and could easily have had more kids, but we both KNOW that our family is complete. It really is such a personal thing. Thank you for your wonderful post and sharing your beautiful children with us!!

  27. Going on my fifth and I'm barely 31...I get comments all the time. I swear if I leave Utah I am like a walking freak show. We just have to laugh. What really makes me nuts is people in the church that act so surprised...I wanna say, "Really, you're surprised?? Aren't you LDS??? 5 kids is NOTHING!" 5 seems to be a lot for this generation of mothers but pales in comparison to the generation of LDS mothers before us.

    Great post...I need to get mine finished!

  28. I like you, girl. LOTS. The stork comment? I totally snorted.

    So we've had four kids in five years, and I don't know if I'll ever get to the point that the comments don't bother me at least a little. I hope so. I just have to remind myself that THIS person has only said a rude comment to me ONCE - even if I'VE heard it a thousand times ....

    Lately I've had to come up with snarky comebacks to keep my cool. Favorites so far?

    Rude person #1: Wha-?! You're pregnant, and you have all these kids already? What number is this now?!
    You: It's not a number. It's a baby. A boy, to be specific. His name will be ____ and I love him to pieces already.

    Rude person #2: You're insane. You're crazy. You are absolutely responsible for the detriment of the earth. (or some variation thereof)
    You: Why are you so upset? I didn't ask YOU to raise them!

    Rude person #3: Number four?! Don't you know what causes that?!
    You: NO! Will you please tell me? These kids just keep coming and I DON'T KNOW WHY!

    Now if only I had the guts to actually use them ....

  29. Such a great post. From a mother of 9 I loved everything about it.

  30. LOVE this post!! I feel honored to have read that! :)

  31. Amen! A sweet lady at the store yesterday said to me, "I will take all three." That was a nice comment when you are use to the "your busy" aren't you done yet?" "You are a better person than I am...etc". A lady cutting my hair went on a rampage to me aboout having kids (I had my little ones with me). How she has two and it is two too many for her and she can't see how I could handle mine and so close etc. I told her that I was glad she only had two then and maybe she should mind her own business about my fertility. She stopped talking to me after that. No tip and never went back to her.

  32. Love everything about the post!

    We get loads of comments too, especially since 7 of our 8 are girls. One lady at the checkout stand especially loved to make rude remarks. Her favorite, "Do you even have a tv out there on the ranch?" I finally answered her one day (when there was a long line of people behind me and she made the remark to get laughs out of them), "Of course we do...but what's more fun? Or don't you know?" The people in line hooted and hollered and we haven't had trouble with her since. :D

  33. Thanks for your post. My husband and I don't even have children yet and some people already feel the need to tell us to take our time having them... or react in shock when they find out we're not living together, or even engaged, but married! :)

  34. Amen, Serene! What gets me is when people at CHURCH make these kinds of comments. We need to be supporting each other!

  35. As someone with a rather large family (11 children) I can heartily second every. single. thing. you. said! People can be rude, mean, uninformed, and wonderful. I will never understand how my choices in children somehow give everyone an open invitation to tell me I am crazy! (I am, but that too is my business!) You go Serene!
    And may you have as many children as you ever wanted and enough to make the neighbor's eyes pop right out of their heads!!!

  36. I love this post! Serene, I've added you to my favorite blogs list. As a mom of six, two sets (half were adopted after being born as our grands), and having had a hysterectomy at 28, I so relate! About six weeks after the big surgery, I introduced my three young children to a father of 13. THIRTEEN! He said, "Oh, what a nice start!" Sorry, it was a nice finish, too. Or so we thought. Anyway. Keep up the good work! GREAT GREAT BLOG you have!

  37. Ya'll need to move to Central PA. People love families/children around these here parts! :)

  38. I am LOVIIIING reading these comments of comebacks. I was laughing so hard that I had to read them off to my curious husband. After hearing Montserrat's he said, "Yeeeah! That's my kind of comeback."
    I wish I could be as witty to the rude comments. Alas, I am one of those who has awesome comments come to me later that evening.

  39. Yeah, I've gotten my share of belly laughs out of this husband even read today's post and said "that was VERY entertaining!" Even the guys are weighing in. I think Montserrat wins for best come-back though! Very, very funny!

  40. Thanks for the comments on having children. I have heard them all. I have 5 children and when my youngest were born I had 5 children 5 years and younger. (two sets of twins!)

  41. Thank you so much for that wonderful post! It was just what I needed to hear :) You're an amazing person!

  42. Oh wow! I never would have expected such a fabulous response to my post! I am truly honored that all you wonderful women would take the time to chime in.

    And yes, all the wonderful comebacks you think about... later! LOL, I love it.

    You are all awesome!

  43. I applaud you for standing up for your family! Unfortunately people get so confused in today's society. We have not been able to have children yet, but I always wanted a large family. Thank's for being you and standing firm in what you believe!

  44. P.S. I LOVE the mini-Book of Mormon cover. Sooooo cute!

  45. Wow, Serene THANK YOU! I mean... THANKKKKK YOU!
    I had 3 kids under 3. And they are all still very young and I always get, "Woah, you've got your hands full!" ALWAYS. I can count on one hand (actually, probably on one finger) how many times someone has looked at my clan and said, "Wow! You have three little ones! How wonderful!"
    Ahhhh I dream of the day... for now, I'll just sit back and enjoy your blog posts and fan myself with whatever I've got in hand... (a dirty diaper, perhaps?)
    And Jocelyn! My have an awesome wall hanging with a picture of my family and the temple in the background. Its really cool (at least I think so) but my camera is out of commission!!! I tried taking pictures of the wall arrangement with my camera phone today and none of them turned out. Can I join your family photo link up next month when I get a new camera and after I spend hours upon hours reading the manual to figure out how it works???
    Thanks chica!

  46. Now that my kids are getting a little older (5-15), I don't usually have to take all the kids with me on errands anymore. I go to the store by myself when the kids are at school or leave most of them at home with the older kids. As nice as it is to shop without kids running down the different aisles and throwing food into the cart, I actually miss all the comments. I loved telling people that Yes, they were all mine and yes we planned on having more. :)

  47. This is fantastic - thanks!!

    I had my first two 2 1/2 years apart. Someone said to me, "You're sure poppin' 'em out, aren't you?" Well, in the first place, they don't exactly pop ... but I remember thinking all kinds of unkind thoughts at that moment. :) Parenthood is personal. That's how it's supposed to be.

  48. I think the hardest thing for me is when the comments about having a big family, or not spacing them far enough apart, come from members of my ward or family. I can handle the people who think I'm being irresponsible for overpopulating the world, but it is hardest when it comes from people who share my same belief system. I think we too often become "of the world" on this one and forget that what we are doing in our families is an eternal work and that husband and wives are entitled to personal revelation about it. Thanks for your comments, they sure made me smile!

  49. I couldn't have said it better myself! We have 4 under 5 as well and do in fact plan to have more. I've learned to smile as sincerely as I can at others while out in public... but generally just try to keep my kids engaged in a conversation and smiling at them (because those ones are WAY more genuine), and that helps me pretend like I don't hear peoples comments. Really?? You think that I haven't heard the phrase "you're busy" or "you've got your hands full" 50,000 times? *laugh* Unless you're planning on helping, don't stop me so you can mention something like that... I've heard! But you know what... my 4 are more well behaved then others 1, so I can laugh things off fairly well at this point. Especially from the people that say, "gee, I can barely handle my 1 or 2, we're so done, I can never do what you!" Yah, if mine acted the way their 1 or 2 do I'd be done too :-D!

  50. I have been a bit behind with checking my e-mails so have only seen this post now. You are quite right - it is no-one elses business but yours and your husband's. I had quite the opposite problem. We so much wanted a family, but I really batles with miscarriages, and other problems. We had our first healthy child after 5 years, our second after 9. our third and last after 11. They actually all had hiccups of one sort or another, but they're all still alive and kicking, and we have 2 lovely grandchildren. I eventually landed up a "sports model", as I lost various bits of my reproductive system. But my children and grandchildren are such a blessing to us. I used to grieve terribly when I lost another child, thinking it was my fault in some way, but I came to accept that Heavenly Father knew best, and that he knew what was best for me, as one of his daughters. Children are such a blessing, and the opportunity to raise them in the Gospel a service to our Father's sons and daughters.

  51. Great topic, and well addressed. Yes, all women are different and most do not know the trials or situations for each woman. Best to never judge and hopefully say something stupid that you will regret.

    I find the older I get, the bolder. I might have been offended in the past, but no longer. I get the same remarks today when I tell someone I homeschool. But at my age now (56), I just look at them and say, yea I'm a rebel.

  52. Oh Serene, I have walked many a times in your similar shoes.  I have 6 children 13 down to 2.  We were in Vegas with the whole gang about 2 years ago and I can tell you we got more attention than the circus acts, the worse part is that the kids were actually being GOOD this time. are an amazing Mother from our Heavenly Father, and he is sending you choice spririts to fill your life with joy & headaches :)  Keep up the work and fighting the battle along with all of us "big" families, I admire you!!!

  53. I'm probably one of the "rude" people. lol. i have a hard time hiding my feelings.. so when i meet someone from high school who now has like 5 kids (while i have 2 and i'm completely overwhelmed), yes, my jaw drops. I dont mean to be mean or rude, but it IS shocking!! but yes, i agree that how many kids a couple has is completely up to them. I have 2 and we are DONE. I sometimes get judgment for not having enough ( i live in utah, so).