In my last post I asked why women choose to stop having babies (before menopause hits and they can’t). I mentioned my friend who just had a baby three months ago at age 44, her ninth. Another homeschooling girlfriend of mine, in her early 40s, just had her tenth. Her oldest is in college. Another one recently told me she’s pregnant with #7, and she just sent her oldest on a mission. I am so pleased to hear about all of this extended childbearing. It cheers my heart!
(OK here’s a disclaimer. Especially if you are one of my personal friends, please don’t think I go around counting how many kids you have or the age of your youngest child and judge your righteousness based on that. I’m judging your righteousness based on other things….just kidding! I know there are many factors that go into the decision to have a baby. I believe that as mothering trees of life, women have to have a nourishing soil to have lots of children and not go crazy, because today’s world is not mom-friendly, baby-friendly, or kid-friendly. A nourishing soil involves great physical, mental, and marital health. I hope that people can see that it’s a privilege to have a baby and that they will want to live up to that privilege by improving their soil or health with better diet, exercise, prayer, counseling, etc. so they can joyfully have as many babies as God wants them to have. After all, “children are an heritage of the Lord.” That means that children are gifts from God that help us to become like Him and qualify to inherit what He has.)
Last year I read this incredible book, called The Gathering about an LDS woman who intensely desired children from a young age. She got married young and immediately started having babies. After ten months of marriage she had twins. The next three came in the next three years. She had health problems and after her fifth baby, right after the delivery, without her consenting, the doctor rendered her infertile. This caused her extreme anguish. For years she wanted more babies. So she did foster care and eventually adopted. Not just one or two kids, a LOT of kids, like, umm, around 20. You can read more here http://thegatheringplaceranch.com/The_Gathering_Place_Ranch/Biography.html.
This book, by Annie Laura Richardson and her husband Brian, was the most amazing book I have ever read, besides the scriptures. It’s called The Gathering. This woman did so many tremendous things in order to give birth to and adopt all of the children she felt she was called by God to be a mother too. It was a very humbling book for me to read, to wonder if I would be willing to do that if I couldn’t bear any more babies. It took a long time for this woman to think she was “done.” Most women say they are done even if they physically can have more babies, but Annie Laura couldn’t bear more physically but she felt she was not done. This women endured pain, bugs, illnesses, traveling to the ends of the earth, deprivation, living for months in Haiti and Vietnam, in order to find the babies that she felt were calling to her to adopt them. Read more here http://deseretnews.com/article/700018657/Family-of-7-opens-hearts-to-20-adopted-children.html They live on a farm in Missouri and homeschool.
OK, back to why someone would stop multiplying and being fruitful. Another girlfriend of mine told me that she recently went to God in prayer and asked if she should have another one (her youngest of six is four). She was feeling it was time to have another baby. She was told, “No. You will be raising someone else’s child.” So there’s my answer. If God tells you to, then it’s time to stop. But who knows, he may tell you to have another one later on.
We modern women tend to think of fertility as something we can turn on and off, instead of something that we honor and let flow, like the seasons of a tree. We were meant to be like trees and go through seasons too. Everybody in the world talks about “saving the trees.” That’s a huge distraction to keep us from working on what really matters. The trees that are the most important to save are the mothering tree, the fathering tree, and the family tree. Instead of focusing on recycling and reusing and reducing waste, let’s focus on helping families, on helping moms with babies and children and strengthening home and family.
The mothering tree is anatomically symbolized by two uniquely feminine structures, the breasts, whose milk ducts have the structure of a tree, and the placenta, which have a tree-like structure as well. When we use our breasts as trees of life literally to our babies by ecologically breastfeeding then our bodies do go through seasons. We can have LAM, or lactational amenorrhea, and be infertile. That’s our winter time, a time when we get a break from having periods. This is if you follow the Rules, the Seven Standards of eco breastfeeding. That’s a gift to help our bodies be strong to bear more fruit. I read a while ago that fruit trees bear better fruit if they have a good, hard winter. If you want to learn more about eco breastfeeding, read it from my LLL friend, Sheila Kippley, who outlines it here http://nfpandmore.org/The Seven Standards Summary.pdf
I remember a year ago visiting a girlfriend of mine, KeeNan. As I entered into her home, I felt I was entering a sacred space, like a temple. I could feel the Spirit there. Here was a precious environment, protected from the world. A woman, the queen of her home, reigned there. It was clean and orderly and safe. Her children felt happy and loved. Nothing worldly was there. She had her children close by, since she homeschools. Her husband was gone because he was out working to provide for the family, so that she as the mom could be home with her little ones. It’s a common scenario among my readers probably, but I think we forget just how precious it is. (I strive for my home to be clean and orderly and happy but sometimes that is a struggle with four big boys who like to wrestle and erupt with weird noises and kids who seem to be genetically programmed not to pick up their belongings.)
It struck me with great force of the Spirit, that this is the environment worth saving. The environment of a mom at home, who is willing to bear more children, who is with her children to teach and train them all day long. The mom is a tree of life to her children, a Christ-figure, and she’s also like a shepherd, like Christ is. She’s there to keep sheep, or to nourish and protect her flock of sheep. (If you ever want to listen to a tear jerker of a song, listen to “Keeping Sheep” by Lynne Perry Christofferson, Janice Kapp Perry’s daughter, http://ldsmusicnow.com/album/302/Lynne-Perry-Christofferson/Keeping-Sheep/. It is priceless, but only .99 to download!)
So, I’ve got two ideas going here, the idea of moms having lots of babies by letting her fertility flow through seasons with ecological breastfeeding, so she doesn’t get burned out as she has lots of babies. Then there’s the idea of a mom being home with all her children all day because of homeschooling. Many people in the world think these are crazy, burdensome lifestyle choices. They think that they bind women down. But here’s a secret: it’s actually a lot of fun to be a wife and mom and have lots of babies, as long as you feel well nourished and rested and protected and provided for by your husband. It’s fun to have your children with you all day, to play learning games with them and read aloud Anne of Green Gables. It’s fun to hear them recite their Shakespeare lines and work on math and help you fold the clean laundry as you listen and sing to http://scripturescouts.com. It’s fun to watch your children interact with the baby. It’s hard work too, but anything that’s worthwhile takes hard work.
Many people think that these choices are crazy because we live in a culture like the ancient Romans, instead of it being Biblically or Hebrew-based. It’s Roman based because society in general, and even some LDS members, worship false gods and reveres women for the seductiveness aspect of sexuality instead of the motherliness aspect of their sexuality, like the ancient Romans did. The Hebrews revered women for being mothers. So this split culture is why you get LDS women like me who grow up being afraid of telling her peers that she wants to have lots of kids and be a stay-at-home mom, even when I could have had any other career I wanted. That’s how you get LDS brides like me who get duped into going onto the birth control pill (I’ve since repented) instead of being told that NFP works and it’s the only birth control method that fully harmonizes with the LDS Church prophets’ teachings on birth control here http://lds.org/si/bc/seminary/content/library/manuals/institute-student/eternal-marriage-student-manual_eng.pdf.
It’s time for us to change that. After all, remember what happened to the ancient Romans? I think we can have a sexual revolution that returns our culture to worshiping the one true God, and uses the natural forms He has provided of ecologically breastfeeding and natural family planning. Go to http://familyplanlds.homestead.com/ and http://nfpandmore.org to learn more.