When I was pregnant with my 5th child, I was embarrassed to tell my neighbors or even go grocery shopping. I dreaded getting those looks that said, “What? Do you think you have to populate the whole world yourself?” Or worse still, the people who made snide little comments like, “Are all those your children,” then walked away muttering, “doesn't she know about birth control?”
But I loved children and my husband and I wanted another baby. We both were raised in large families and saw the benefits of having lots of siblings, and we wanted a large family ourselves. But did I really? It was hard enough raising four children without adding another. I decided, yes, I did want another child. But I also decided that if I loved having a large family, I needed to start noticing the joy my children gave me, so I started a “Joy Journal”. In this journal I recorded little things that happened during the day that gave me joy. I didn't want this to become a burden or another failure attempt, so I didn't record things every day, just whenever I noticed something special.
My Joy Journal became a wonderful blessing in the life of my family. At birthdays I would read from my journal about the things the birthday child had done during that year that brought me joy and this became a special part of their birthday.
Every family is different. Some mothers who only have one or two children wish they could have more. Some are very happy to have just the amount they have. But as mothers, regardless of the number of children we have, we should never be embarrassed to BE MOTHERS.
With permission, I quote from an article I recently read (Ensign Oct. 2013, 60) of an experience that happened to the author, Craig Cardon's, wife. It took place when they attended a dinner for members of the Dean’s Alumni Leadership Council at the Harvard Kennedy School several years ago.
“After the dinner the president of the council invited the council members and their companions to stand and introduce themselves. He suggested that each person share educational and professional background information, along with what each considered to be his or her most significant accomplishment. Because of the way the room was organized, our table would be the last to participate.
[My wife} later explained to me that as she saw all in attendance standing and listing their many academic degrees and professional accomplishments, she thought, “What can I possibly say to these people who have been ambassadors, high government officials, educators, professionals, and leaders of gigantic enterprises? I don’t even have my bachelor’s degree yet” (though she subsequently received it in 2008).
[My wife’s} mind continued racing: “I’ve got to think of something to say. No, I’ve got to find an excuse to leave.” Then, in an instant, she thought, “I’m going to pray.”
She said a silent, earnest prayer, pleading with the Lord for His help and direction. In that moment, a voice came into her mind with perfect clarity. It said, “Debbie, who in this room has achieved more important things in this life or has had more amazing experiences than you? You are a mother in Zion. You have brought eight children into this world. Those who are of age are happily married and are having children of their own. What is more important than that? Debbie, get up and tell these people with power what you have done.”
At that moment, the microphone was passed to our table. I had seen [Debbie] shifting in her chair and looking a bit uneasy, so I extended my hand to take the microphone, thinking to give her additional time to prepare herself. Imagine my surprise when her hand stretched out in front of mine and literally grabbed the microphone.
She confidently stood, and with an elegance difficult to describe, she said, “A few years ago I accompanied my husband here to the Harvard Kennedy School. And my most important achievement is that I am the mother of 8 children and the grandmother of 18 grandchildren” (the number of grandchildren at the time).
With that statement, spontaneous applause erupted in the room. It was the only applause of the entire evening. [Debbie] shared a few additional thoughts relating to the central, societal role of the family and the happiness found therein. Then she handed me the microphone and sat down. I stood and added simply, “I’m her husband.”
We are mothers. We love, teach, and nurture our children into responsible adults. We cry with our children, cry over our children, and cry about our children. We laugh with our children, laugh about our children, and cry when they're gone. We teach with our words, teach by example, and pray that our teaching will become internalized. We have an important job! Let us never be embarrassed to proudly say, we are mothers!
Thanks for reading,