Friday, March 13, 2009

The Case for Conversion

I was once a practicing member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. The reason for my conversion was simple. They were the only group I could find that readily embraced and validated my goals. I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I wanted to make a house a home. I wanted to cook dinner and pack nutritious lunches. I wanted to have babies. The problem I ran into is that girls in the church are strongly pushed in this direction. I feel strongly that while this is what I wanted to do, it's not what I wanted to tell my daughters they should do. If Megan wants to stay at home and raise babies, I will fully support her but if she decides that she would like to go to work while her partner stays home or that she wants no part of babies, I will fully support that goal as well. This, along with their position of homosexuality, led to me re-joining the Methodist church.

While we were at the library today, I ran into a woman with a gaggle of children who had kind words for me when I discovered Charlie had managed to wet his pants and underwear AGAIN (how could one sippy cup possibly lead to so much pee!) I sorely wished I could talk with her more but off we went. The characteristic western accent as well as the lifestyle decisions she had made strongly suggested that she was Mormon (if I can make some sweeping assumptions... Through the day, I reflected on how much I miss being Mormon at this stage in my life. Methodists don't really have much in the way of large families. The norm is generally to stick with 2, 3 at the outside. Even then, it seems that, more often than not, those with 3 got there without intending to. When I speak of wanting 4, I'm look at askance. I'm an aberration. To make things worse, I sometimes speak about how difficult it is to be home with young children. I occasionally share my frustrations. I have been known to respond to someone telling me that these years are fleeting with a heartfelt, "Thank God!"

I don't know precisely why I want a larger family. I'm sure it is a convoluted mish-mash of experiences with larger families while growing up, a desire that my children have a happier upbringing than I did (and therefor a different family size), a manifestation of the loneliness I have and do feel at time and a desire to give them a built in social structure. I knew I wanted more than 2 and there seems to be a bit of common wisdom that says that 3 is the hardest hump to get over. So, if we're going to slog through that, we might as well go with 4 to even things up. I'm not sure any of this is a real reason to decide to have more children but it seems as sensible a set of reasons as any. After all, when it comes to it, I have no sensible reason for having had 1 child and certainly nothing of any weight to advocate for a second- Charlie having been anything but an easy baby. I do know that I feel strongly that I would like to have 4. It is the same sort of certainty that came with my feeling that Charlie would be a boy and Megan a girl and that if I am ever due in October, it will be a boy. It's just one of those things in the cosmos that sets itself in your head. If I don't have at least 3, I am quite certain I will always feel something is missing and I may feel someone is missing until we hit 4.

At the same time, I love having 2 children. I love discovering how different they are and marveling that they both came from the same pool of genetic material. I love the way they hold hands in the car. I love watching Megan catch Charlie's eye to exchange smiles.

I also feel like I'm finally getting the hang of things. My second pregnancy was hard in it's own way but so much more manageable. I knew which pants would fit, which tea to drink, which morning sickness medicine that would work. I know even more now. I'm starting to figure out how to make the house at least marginally picked up, how to keep up with laundry, how to juggle 2 children in the grocery store. It seems like such a waste to have finally started getting things figured out, only to leave this stage behind.

Although, that brings me to the other reason I would find having some Mormon mom friends so helpful... These are women who have often come from larger families and are having larger families. I need some mentors. I need some women who can tell me which stores have carts that will hold 3 children. I need some women who can support my assumption that it is hard but it's also worth it; that you don't stop having babies just because the days are very challenging.

I need some women who support the idea that you can choose to have a larger family, not because you are having as many babies as God will give you but that you are actively choosing to have more children. I find the idea of simply "opening yourself to the will of God" to be disingenuous. Having unprotected sex multiple times a month has rather predictable consequences. I don't find this to be an expression of God's intentions so much as a biology experiment. To me, it seems just as spiritual, if not more so, to give a great deal of conscious and unconscious attention to the issue of children and follow a course of action commensurate to how you feel led.

My days of late have been long. I am fighting against a strong tide. My peers say that 2 is more than enough. My husband and I haven't adequately slept in years. My husband's work is pressing hard and isn't the most family friendly. It can get tense. I don't like uncertainty and there are no clear answers in this situation. Maybe my gut is wrong and I should quit while I'm ahead.