This story is part of our End of the Childbearing Years series, exploring the experiences, decisions, and feelings of Mormon women around this pivotal transition. Each story is a generous and vulnerable offering. We ask that comments be sensitive and nonjudgmental toward any woman’s choices or beliefs.
There I sat, across from a long time friend at a lunchtime bakery. She was a bit older in mom years than I, but we had cemented a bond through the new years of motherhood when we had met living on a remote tropical island. Together, we had supported our husbands in the anxious early years of career training while we both cloth diapered and made homemade tortillas from necessity. Now, years have passed and each of our youngest are in elementary school with our oldest nearly driving or nearly graduating. We have earned the things we planned for…there is career success for our husbands. And yet I am discontent.
My husband and I pick out the same things, we often find solutions in the same way, we infrequently have arguments that linger. And yet for over the past year we have come to no resolution. He is certain our family is complete. I am certain there is another baby. There has been fasting, prayer, joint temple attendance. With each act of faith, we each become more convinced of our own position. He is just as confident with his spiritual witness as I am with mine. The ability to remain so polar opposite for so long is so foreign to me, so uncomfortable, that I lack peace. How can we both attend the temple and receive different witnesses? Who is right?
As I share this with my friend, there is a knot in my chest. It is a knot tied up of yearning and insecurity, things I choose not to verbalize loosely. I am fragile. The separation of unity from my spouse has been wearying. Although we do pull it out and look at it, we then choose to tuck it away, recognizing the canyon growing between our positions.
I tell my lunch friend how hard this has been. I wonder to her, who is more entitled to the Spirit? I wonder even more, if I were to have another baby would the yearning even go away? Or will it remain as a constant reminder of the cultural conditioning of the woman’s most prominent role, that of divine motherhood? I press further, how long should I weary the Lord and my husband?
My lunch friend spoke simply to me. Her sister-like truths wrapped a warm comfort around my mind. She reminded me that my husband—my equal, my partner, my eternal companion—came first. Even before our children. She pointed out if he felt he could not stretch to welcome more, I needed to honor that. Because I chose him in marriage, he came first.
When I allowed myself to feel the deepness of love for my husband, I found that taking care of his needs was more important than my desire to have another baby. This transition was not easy, but it was a shift in my focus that allowed me to remember to love him first, even more than my wants and myself. It was not an act of woman’s submission.
He in turn was gentle with me. He was careful as he watched me silently grieve the loss of a baby I wanted. He nurtured me abundantly with whispered confidence that motherhood was not my only divine role. He innately knew my inner restlessness for more and planted soft encouraging words to push me forward, inch by inch, to become more. For months, he walked delicately near my heart, not because he feared I was not strong enough, but because he knew I had gifted him compromise to bring us to harmony.