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 Anonymous

My patriarchal blessing promises that I will be a mother, and that many faithful and choice spirits will be sent to my family for me to raise. Ever since I received that blessing as a 17-yr-old girl, I looked forward to the day when I would raise a large, loving family with many children of my own.

When my husband and I had been married for four months, he confessed to me that he’d been struggling with a pornography addition since he’d been a teenager. It shocked me, rocked my world and made me question things about my faith, my marriage, my relationship with God.

When my youngest daughter was a year old, I found a notebook under the couch in our living room in which my husband had been chronicling his ongoing battle with pornography addiction. At this point, I thought it had “been taken care of,” that it was no longer in the picture. That was the start of a very dark time for me.

I distanced myself from my husband, and at times could not even stand to be in the same room with him. I gave up hoping for more children.

After I found the notebook, my husband and I sought professional counseling. It took four years of hard work, but finally the grace of God rested on my heart and taught me forgiveness. My husband and I have experienced complete reconciliation and our marriage is stronger and full of more love and trust than it ever had been before.

The consequence, however, is that during those years our children grew up. Our family dynamic became more solidified. The space between my youngest and a hypothetical third child got bigger until it was too big for me to feel comfortable with.

My trust in my husband was too tenuous to take the risk of adding additional children to our family. And so we have chosen to remain a small, two-child family.

At times I still wonder about the promise in my patriarchal blessing about “many” faithful spirits that would be my children. Two is not “many”. I feel judged all the time at having “chosen” a small family. And what I can’t do is scream out, “You don’t understand! I’m not being selfish at choosing two children! I made great sacrifice to choose to stay with my husband!” My heart breaks sometimes thinking that I have fallen short of what God expected of me. Maybe He knew this set of circumstances would shape me into the best type of woman and mother I could be, but there are still days that I just weep at that unfulfilled promise in my patriarchal blessing.

I know that all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord. I know that somehow, I will find joy and purpose in my role as a mother to a small family, even when I thought my role would be a mother to a large family.