Taking risks

We had a little swap table at Enrichment the other day, you know, the kind of thing where you clean out your house and get rid of the crap that has been cluttering your own life, just so you can pick up somebody else's crap and bring it home and fill the space you just cleaned out. (Sadly, this time I didn't even clean out my own crap, I just gleefully brought home somebody else's crap without pausing long enough to consider that if somebody else is throwing it away, I probably don't need it either. Oh well.) Anyway.... One woman brought mounds and mounds of baby clothes of every size you can imagine. She's just had her 6th child, and she is done, so out with the baby crap for good! Another woman remarked, as this liberated mother deposited literally 5 loads from her car of undifferentiated baby paraphanalia onto the tables, "My, it must feel good to know you are done." The mother looked at her and said, "Oh yeah. I'm done." The first woman (who is 40 and has 4 kids, by the way), said, wistfully, "Oh, it's just still such a debate between me and my husband about whether or not we'll have another one, and I feel like the Lord is just saying, 'Hey, make up your mind!' You know what I mean, Heather?" Well, actually, no, I don't, but this is Relief Society, after all, charity never faileth and all that, and since she was clearly in a mood to wax lyrical about motherhood rather than actually seeking my opinion about such things, which she certainly really, REALLY would not appreciate anyway, I just smiled and shrugged. She continued, "Oh, and you know, I'm almost 41, and my doctor tells me there are such risks involved with having a baby over the age of 40. But, you and I both know that when we know the Plan of Salvation, it makes it so there are no risks, not really." I stared at her. What? "What will come, will come, whatever is meant to be. And actually, statistically, it's the women who are having babies at 23 that are having the problems." I actually have little idea what statistics are involved with problematic pregnancies at age 41, or how in any way they relate to women at age 23, but it was really the previous statement that blew my mind. Knowing the Plan of Salvation eliminates risk? Is that true? Or did she mean that being able to put figures on a flannel board about where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going makes it so we don't have to be scared of what might be coming? Don't get me wrong. I love knowing the Plan of Salvation, and I'll admit that it probably adds a persective to a difficult life that others may not have, and having the gift of the Comforter certainly is a part of that, too. But deliberately taking a risk, just because you know about the plan seems foolish to me, if not in direct contradiction of God's commandments about being good stewards to our bodies and our families. If this woman had said, "I feel like there is another spirit that belongs in our family, even though I'm forty", or even, "I know I'm getting older, but I still really want another child," I would be fine with it. But ignoring risks just because, "what will come will come", well, I'm not so okay with that. We didn't continue our conversation, because the Relief Society president announced that it was time for refreshments, so we broke off rifling through the stuff and headed for the kitchen. If there's anything we Mormons like better than other people's crap, it's fattening food somebody else has had to prepare. (Enter Homer Simpsonesque voice here:)Mmmmm...doouuughnuts....arrrgglrrg...{tongue lolling out, drool, drool, drool...}


Anonymous J. Stapley said...

Nice post, Heather. Rather adolescent, actually (the attitude, not your post). It's the old, I'm invincible so risks don't matter, routine. I actually miss those days, it’s a great feeling.

9/20/2005 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Emily said...

The question why is it that she feels like she "HAS" to have more? Hello, children are a gift not an obligation. Of course not having any myself maybe I'm totally wrong, but that's how I feel about it.

9/20/2005 05:16:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

Actually, I disagree. It has maturity is some significant ways.
Consider the statement:
"I would like another child and if it has Down's Syndrome that is fine with me--God's will be done."
"I would like another child and if I have a few more health problems because of this, that is fine with me--God's will be done."
These statements are not quite the same thing as immature statements like:
"I'm going to lie down on the street on the highway for kicks and whatever happens, happens."
"I'm not going to put my kids in seatbelts because if God wants them to die, he'll let them die anyway."
If we knew the risks and considered them fully.....would any of us be parents? Some people choose not to because they are scared of the risks.
If I choose to get pregnant......I might miscarry, my child may die, I may die in childbirth, my child may be a behavioral problem, my child may have an accident and be disfigured, my child may run away from home and never come back,.....
Sure, we can play the odds. But remember, when the odds are 85%, we don't all get Bs like its a grade. Some people are 100% one way, and some people are 100% the other way. So that 15% chance is 100% reality for some people.
And even if the odds are only 1%, they are 100% reality for that 1%.
I have three kids. I knew the risks.
And guess what? It hasn't been 100% perfect.
Sometimes 41 year old mother's can be wise. I'm guessing she's had children and lived through some difficult times already. She is perhaps courageous enough to take on whatever the Lord gives her.
Maybe she knows that children are blessings....even if they try your patiences, even if they wear you out, even if they bring grief and heartache.
It sounds like she will base her decision on what she and her husband feel about having a new child. Not on statistics.

9/20/2005 05:18:00 PM  
Anonymous JKS said...

It sounds like she and her husband are still discussing it. When the previous child starts growing up, you using start talking about your feelings about another one yes/no, now/later, etc. It can take months/years to really feel like you know what feels right, that you both agree, etc. (Some people have more definite impressions and don't need to think about it so much).
Planners like me go crazy wondering!

In re-reading my post, I perhaps failed to back up the woman's theory that the Plan of Salvation eliminates risk. I don't think it eliminates it, but it means that certain things aren't everything.
I think I mean to say that if you are 20, and the world says you are too young to have kids and should enjoy your career or couple time instead of tying yourself down as a mom already and getting stretch marks and extra weight, or if you are 30 and you already have a boy and girl and the world tells you that you're done and you should do something else with your life and not have more kids because they are so expensive.....how is that different than when you are 41 and the world tells you that your child might have health problems and your body might have a harder time with pregnancy so you shouldn't have more kids?
Hey, I may be done right now at 34. I don't know. But risks go up a little each year, and some people have a line drawn at 35, some at 40. Who is to say where the line "should" be drawn? Where the risks actually matter?
This woman doesn't feel like the risks should be all that different at age 41 than they were at 23. Either way, the plan of salvation tells us what is really important. And it isn't wealth, IQ scores and the perfect American life.

9/20/2005 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Island Queen said...

Good post Heather and good thoughtful comments. I don't know what I would say in that situation.

I understand what J.S., emily and jks are saying ... and in a way I agree with all of them.

9/20/2005 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa M. said...

Statistics...are interesting.

I am glad it wasn't me in that conversation. I might have had more to say.~

9/20/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Tracy M said...

The interesting thing here is how insensitive this woman was to you, and how she assumed you felt the same way...I find myself chanting over and over: the Gospel is perfect, the people are not, the Gospel is perfect, the people...

9/21/2005 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger annegb said...

I love the idea of the plan of salvation, it's one of the most appealing things about the gospel.

But it can be cold comfort when we are dealing with the realities of life in the present.

9/22/2005 04:27:00 AM  
Blogger Us said...

Reminds me of a similar conversation I had a while back. I mentioned to someone that I'm not scared of death, I'm just scared of dying in a painful way. They then proceeded to tell me that I don't have enough faith because I'm scared of death, I don't understand The Plan, yada yada... I think that a fear of pain is healthy, heck, it's kept me alive this long, right?
I agree with you, annegb, about the cold comfort idea. When we had trouble conceiving our second, and when we found out he had a birth defect, it was pretty hard to try and feel happy because of the 'big picture'. But I suppose you just have to chalk it up to the fact that everyone has different coping mechanisms.

9/25/2005 03:06:00 AM  
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