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 Sarah M. Webb

I called my non-member dad when I was 21 to tell him that I was going to get married. His response was, “Are you pregnant?” “Well….yes,” I said, “but that is beside the point.” We were married by our bishop in August, just three months after the proposal and five months after we met. Quick to say the least.

She came to two very young, inexperienced, and scared people, but solidified us in our place in this world and our place with our God. We weren’t going to church, but that quickly changed. We made a commitment that our life together was going to be for her good and for possible children to come. We were sealed in the Denver, Colorado temple two years later. With that our second child came, semi-planned. Still poor, but very much in love, we welcomed another daughter to our family. Drastic decisions had to be made. Can we really survive on our income? No. So back to Utah we moved and my hubby went back to school. I thought we were poor before, oh was I wrong. Living on borrowed money from family, church assistance and Pell Grants, we (my hubby) got his Bachelor’s degree. Two children and my better half in school―I was more like a mother to three. Prosperity, kind of, came after the diploma. Homes were bought and friends were made. Time for a third? Daughter? Sure. She came and we were complete. And daddy was the lone cheese trying to make it in a feminine world. Poor guy.

After a move to northern Utah and the dot com crashes, with accompanying housing crash, we found ourselves making the trek to Virginia.The Lord promised us in the temple that this was His will and so like Nephi, off we went. We had unbelievable prosperity. My eldest daughter graduated with honors and we continued with our lives. Raising our merry band of hormones. Did I mention we were also foster parents? Yep, to 22 children. Mostly all girls. Poor daddy.

Just a few months after our eldest graduated, off to BYU she went. Mom was an emotional wreck (but not in front of my girl―she needed to feel bolstered and ready for adulthood). Just a short four months later we were on a Skype call with our now son-in-law, who asked to marry our girl. All of our answers to prayers told us yes about him, so we wholeheartedly said “YES!!!” The wedding was the following year, in May. Happy married couple. Never mind that my daughter was 19. This was the Lord’s will and they are very suited for each other. Oh boy do we love that boy. Two years later we are about to welcome our first grandchild to our family. What words can express what I feel inside? The only people that know are my Father and Mother in Heaven.

I will not have any more children in this physical form. I know this. The hot flashes and night sweats confirm it. My children have now picked up my baton. With my second daughter just months away from high school graduation and my baby girl soon to enter middle school, I am beginning my grandma years. Am I afraid? A little.

When we were foster parents, and we would gather with as many as seven girls in our home at one time, I couldn’t help but feel my Heavenly Parents cheering us on as we had stewardship over their precious children.

Now I am embarking on a new perspective―watching my child become a mother. Watching her grow her family. Watching her tackle the ups and downs that adulthood brings when you include more than just your happy pair. Trying to stay quiet when she hurts and trying to give comfort, but not be a “smother.”

3 John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” This sums it for me. I picked a man that loved me despite my flaws, we raised a family in love and now my children have a foundation that I lacked. My daughters have now taken my place and that is fine by me.

Sarah and her family