When people ask my mom if she planned to have nine kids, she tells them no.  Then she explains that her plan was always to have ten.
My plan was seven.  Oh how I had that number planted firmly in my motherhood brain.  I had them all perfectly pictured, lined up in a row, smiling faces, all would be right in the world.  (They would also all have names that began with the letter “M,” just for the record.)

I had a little bit of a mourning period that I never got those seven.  Who am I kidding, I’m still in that mourning sometimes!  
But other times I wonder what in Heaven’s name I was thinking.  Times when everyone needs something at once and I can’t, no matter how hard I try, be there for all that they need me for.  And times like last night when I tossed and turned all night thinking through each challenge each child of mine is facing.
I have to laugh that I was naive enough to think that there could be a small silver lining of life being simpler after sending my first two off into the wild blue yonder.  The things I worry about just get bigger and more complicated.  And the things I worry about with the ones here at home are so incredibly different from the things I worried about with my older kids, gosh dang it.  It would be nice to just go into auto-pilot sometimes, don’t you think?
Now, more than ever, I have a hard time trying to figure out how much to push and how much to praise (ponderings on that over HERE).  Because I want the world for these kids, I tell you!  But they have to figure out which part of the world they want.  And sometimes it’s hard to let them.  One of my children is struggling with grades right now.  One is struggling with anxiety.  A couple are struggling with friends.  One is on the other side of the planet with only snippets of life being sent my way.  Two are on the bridge to independence and are doing so great at it until those moments when I realize they’re still so young!  
But I need to remind myself life would be hollow if I were just on autopilot.  And all that worrying is really part of what motherhood is all about.  It helps me connect with them and with God in a way I wouldn’t otherwise to figure it all out.  And that’s what makes me feel alive.  And that’s what helps connect us all together.  So I’ll take it, and let it mold and teach and steal my sleep away, because all those pieces, the good, the bad, and the ugly, sure add up to an amazing journey.

The journey of motherhood.

My sister sent me this quote a while ago that I love:

God bless you, mothers! When all the victories and defeats of men’s efforts are tallied, when the dust of life’s battles begins to settle, when all for which we labor so hard in this world of conquest fades before our eyes, you will be there, you must be there, as the strength for a new generation, the ever-improving onward movement of the race. Its quality will depend on you.​​ 
-President Hinckley 

Maybe I’d still take those seven after all…

But since I can’t, I’ll soak up these five with all my might.


  1. Thank you Shawni. My dream was at least 6 but possibly 12. Now 34 with one and dealing with infertility I definitely see that dream will never happen. But man oh man I am so grateful God blessed me to be a mother. Thank you for your inspiring words.

  2. When I was young I naively thought there would be a lot less worry/concern once my kids were grown. A more experienced mom laughed and said – No, that doesn't happen. There are just even more people to be concerned about. And she was right. Children's spouses, grandchildren. They are all doing great, but there just are just so many more of them!

  3. Shawni, I admire so much of what you do as a parent , mostly your postive attitude and "can do" spirit, but disagree strongly with a couple of thing here. #1 I do not think worrying about kids is the hallmark of good mothering or even desireable. Or necessary. Sleepless nights filled with anxiety are counte-productive in helping anyone grow healthy and strong. It makes us tired, weak, and less present. Yes, we all worry, and when our children have serious health challenges the fear and anxiety can be overwhelming. But up at night obsessing about grades etc seems fruitless and a sign of needing to manage our own anxiety. #2 I continue to be surprised that the LDS "modern day saints" consistentkynuse such male centered language in their "spiritual" teachings. As the mother of 4 growing to be women and one young man I encourage you to think carefully about what "holy words" that speak of "men's efforts" when they mean all our efforts says to your kids and your community. This kind of language is insideous not only for how girls who become women see themselves but also how boys who become men see themselves in relation to women. That's something YOU can help change.

    1. men = mankind in this context
      I believe it is only right we assure our daughters they are included in these words as well. However, the context of this quote is clear as to its meaning.

    2. Just curious how you would recommend not worrying about my children? I too have 5 and several have struggles they are going through. How do I not think about and worry about their struggles? Not sure how to turn that off as a mom with these humans who I birthed and have a piece of my heart.

    3. The following things can help with intrusive or non-productive thoughts…Cognitive therapy, yoga, meditation, prayer, exercise, being outside. Thinking about, loving, supporting, nurturing, helping, guiding, and all around mothering does not mean worrying. Since this conversation has come up I've been seeing more examples of how moms seem to think worrying is what good parenting looks like hust today. Seems like a cultural shift or something.

    4. Maybe the wording is semantics…I'm not a helicopter parent but I do think about, guide, help and nurture my children. I can't help but think of them when they are struggling.

    5. I totally agree that worrying too much is not a hallmark of good mothering. Neither is losing sleep over it. And letting kids figure things out themselves is healthy and essential to raising strong adults. But I think that there is power in a little worry here and there. Especially when kids are going through the deeper tough stuff. In my life when I worry it makes me rely on God more. It makes me feel more connected to my children because my heart is with them and I hope I can help THEM connect to God more in the process. I think sharing some deep struggles with them and helping them figure out what to do about those struggles is what parenting is all about.

      I share this because sometimes on this blog it's so easy to write about the glowing exciting stuff. But I want to remember it's not all rainbows and butterflies. There are tough things going on that are trickier to write about on a blog. And I'm so glad I can be here in the trenches to build. Worry is the companion to progress in many ways.

    6. Thanks for your response, Shawni. I totally agree with you that it's important to share that life is "not all rainbows and butterflies" especially on a blog that so many people admire. I appreciate you efforts in sharing a well rounded version of parenting and family; that's often tough thing to do.

  4. Very few ever get the exact "number" they strive for. What was David's number when you married? I'm not sure how you didn't make it to a larger number. You seem to have the financials means and devote your time to the kids.

    You can't help how you feel, but when they are adults it makes no difference to worry since you are no longer the force that is meant to manage them anymore. You can worry about grandkids but it's really up to their parents.

  5. My dad always says, little kids-little problems. Big kids–big problems 🙂
    You're a great mom! Keep up the good work

  6. Thank you I needed this right now! I get that feeling of wanting to go in auto pilot for sure. I have one ready to turn in mission papers and lots of other challenges with my other 4 kids right now. (I wanted 7 as well (I'm the 7th of 7) and I have 5). It's good to know I'm not alone, thank you for sharing your heart. Good moms DO worry, it's so natural to worry about those who you birthed and have a piece of your heart forever. ❤❤

  7. Thank you thank you. I always wanted three but could only have two. Both girls, both now teens, both loved to the moon and back. A recent "severe ADD diagnosis" and both dealing with anxiety I too don't know how much to praise and how much to push. Your honesty gives me peace. Praying for your kiddos today, along with mine.

  8. I love this discussion. When do mothers ever NOT worry about their kids? 🙂 I love that we don't have to do it on our own. That we have a village helping us raising our kids, and we have a partnership with God in raising these precious souls. when I feel overwhelmed by worry over my kids, prayer sure helps me find my way out.

  9. Words like anxiety are tricky but I think it is possible for a mother to know that it is the right time to worry or that worry, or even anxiety, about a certain stage a child is going through is the correct response if the stakes are very high. On the other hand, I think it is possible to be self-critical and realize that many times we spend too much time worrying about things that don't matter at all or on nursing worries that aren't founded on truth. I personally believe in God's divine will that helps me to discern which worries are worthy of my mental and emotional anguish and which I can effectively let go of completely. I've struggled with diagnosed anxiety before and one hallmark was not being able to discern which worries were justified and which were really not founded on truth. My worry about my kids is usually different. It is almost productive even if it is painful and is necessary for me to put the right helps and interventions into place. Thankfully not all of parenting is like this!

  10. I have 5 and my youngest two are six months and 2 and 1/2 and it is exhausting. I think (hope) it is mostly because I have such a young baby. Please tell me the exhaustion gets better as kids get older? I feel like I could handle anything at this point if I could only get a good night of sleep…

    1. I'm here to tell you that yes, you will feel much better once you get good sleep again! I have 8 children, ranging from 15 yrs old to 17 month old twins & once my twins slept through the night, I was a new woman! Yes, the stresses of teenage children are exhausting & it doesn't necessarily get easier, but getting past the sleepless nights of newborns is huge! Hang in there, you'll have the energy to face the stresses soon! ❤️

    2. Cheryl is right on. A friend with older children once told me that parenting little is exhausting physically while parenting teens is exhausting mentally.

  11. Thank you for your honesty! I needed this today! It's easy to look at photos of families and perceive it as perfect! It's reassuring to know others face the same issues!!

  12. I loved this! I wished for 6, the husband wished for 10, we ended up with 4! With my oldest off on her mission and my second heading to Hawaii in the fall I was convinced life with only 2 kids at home will be simpler…HA!

  13. "For every worry under the sun, there is a solution or there is none. If there be one hurry and find it, if there be none nevermind it."

    Thank you for your words. I find that when I bring my worries about my family to God that I am able to quickly find the solution, even though it might take a lot of time to see that solution actually resolve the problem. Funny how that works and how enduring to the end really is true! What a good mom you are. I bet your children feel so loved by you and Heavenly Father because they are learning that their problems are your problems. It's the same relationship with God and kids these days need that knowledge more than ever. God is there and he will hear and answer prayers in His way and time.

  14. Thank you for sharing this! I always wanted 5 or 6 kids, but I think my 4 will be our completed family and while there definitely is a bit of excitement there is also sadness to be raising my last "baby" (who is not quite 1). It is helpful for me to realize that just because you may "want" more kids, it is okay to stop when is best for your entire family. Being a mother is the best thing ever, I wish there was a way to slow time down so we could all enjoy the stages longer!

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