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.
By Janette Sorensen Marshall
Once you have gathered ingredients and baked a delectable variety of breads, it’s good to let them cool and then feast on the warm crustiness. You try sampling different spreads to experience what works for one loaf and what is better on another. The varying tastes are delightful and lead to new tastes. This is what the end of childbearing was like for me. The loaves were baked and cooling and the time for tasting all the experiences of life together were being continually launched in the exhausting and delightful repetition of days, months, and years to come.
Some yearn for children they cannot have, others sometimes get children they don’t really want. Mine, like most, came one at a time. After each baby, and some time passed, I felt another call and I felt the Lord with me. Each one was wanted and came when I felt ready. With each, I felt a blessing in my heart from the Lord. I felt in partnership with the Lord each time a child was to come. Ten children arrived that way and at that time, I sensed that the children given to me to bring into mortality and rear were all here. I no longer felt that knocking on the door of my heart. That particular communication was cooling and the work of raising these children was in full swing.
I am sure that partly because I had my quiver full, I didn’t feel any loss with the assurance that I had come to the end of childbearing. I felt the Lord was with me and my husband in the current life we had taken on. We were raising a house full of children and we enjoyed them with all the challenges and fun. With the end of childbearing, my mind and heart were completely taken up in the continuing endeavor of raising. When things were most challenging, I felt the truth of the words from D&C 123:16 sink deep into my heart with hope, “You know… that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.” In all times with our children, joyful and challenging, I had the precious knowledge that each child had come, by a very intentional decision, from prayerful conversations between me and the Lord. He gave me ten children and He has been with me in all the days of bearing and rearing them. I love them. And I love Him.