During my freshman year of college I was excited to get married and eager to have kids. But I wanted to go on a mission and graduate from college first. The only question for me was, “When?” Do I graduate college and THEN go on a mission? Or do I go on a mission the minute I turn 21 (way back in the 20th century women couldn’t go on a mission until then) and finish college after that? Marriage would come later, I thought. I was confident that the right guy would come along, we would get married and have lots of babies. But only after these other things were out of the way.
But, as often happens, God has different plans. I met “Mr. Right” when I was a 17-year-old senior in high school. He was 4 days home from serving a no-dating, no-popular music, no-movies, no-swimming mission for 2 years. He was a little weird, I was a little young. It wasn’t love at FIRST sight, (maybe second or third) but we couldn’t stay away from each other. He went to my prom (I hated my dress), I went to his house (we watched Anastasia), and we went roller skating (we held hands). We saw each other nearly every day.
But life was not all sunshine and lollipops. We broke up and got back together, we dated other people, we argued, but we also went to dances, fixed a car in the rain together, held hands, made out under a gazebo in the rain (sounds like it rained a lot. It didn’t.), watched movies, talked about marriage and children, and almost a year after we met we decided we couldn’t live without each other. I was 18 and he was 21. We were young, we were poor, and we were in love. In addition to that, we had shared values and religion, similar life goals, and our parents’ blessings. Oh yeah, and we prayed. Hard. I wanted to know if The Lord thought we were a good match, and after fasting and prayer and doubts and inner debates, I knew he was the one for me. So on May 7, 1999 we took the logical next step, we got married.
I mean, when you find “Mr. Right”, why wait?
When that right one comes along, you don’t want to miss it, and thank goodness I didn’t. We did not wait to get married and we did not wait to have children. We wanted kids so badly that 2 months into our marriage, when we still weren’t pregnant, we thought we were infertile. Yeah. Naive much?
But Even at BYU, that Mormonest of all Mormon places, people were skeptical of our choice to get married young and have children right away. “You’re too young,” they said. “Finish school first,” they said. But what kept us going was what the late prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball once said, “After marriage young wives should be occupied in bearing and rearing children. I know of no scriptures or authorities which authorize young wives to delay their families or to go to work to put their husbands through college. Young married couples can make their way and reach their educational heights, if they are determined.” Also, “Supreme happiness in marriage is governed considerably by a primary factor — that of the bearing and rearing of children. Too many young people set their minds, determining they will not marry or have children until they are more secure, until the military service period is over; until the college degree is secured; until the occupation is more well-defined; until the debts are paid; or until it is more convenient. They have forgotten that the first commandment is to ‘be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.'” Beautiful and comforting words for a young start-up family trying to make it in a world of “wait”.
This isn’t to say that my life choices are ideal for everyone.
I know people who have wanted to get married and have kids right away, and for whom it hasn’t been a possibility. I know people who don’t WANT to get married and have kids right away, and that’s their right and their privilege. It is for them to decide what God (if they believe in one…or 100) and they themselves want for their lives. I don’t claim to know what’s right for everybody. Most of the time I don’t even know what’s right for ME. But I do know that many of my life choices (by no means all) have led me to a happy place in my life. And when it comes to marriage and children, I would not change ONE THING. This is also not to toot my own horn and say I’ve done everything right in my life. HA! The thought is absurd! What I am doing is sharing how grateful I am for these certain decisions I think I did do right for myself.
When I was pregnant with my second child and attending a Cognitive Development class for my Bachelor’s, I was once asked sarcastically if I was glad that I got married at 18. I told them that while I don’t go around preaching the advantages of early marriage (it certainly is not right for everybody), I didn’t regret my decision and wouldn’t do it differently.
We’ve definitely made financial and social sacrifices.
My 20’s were spent diapering and feeding and carpooling and chauffeuring etc. I never went clubbing, or to very many parties. I didn’t even get to date very much. On occasion I wondered if I may have missed out. But then I remember being single and the longing I felt for a family of my own. And I have it!
I don’t have very many worldly accomplishments, and to be honest I was never hugely ambitious. But there were a few things I did want, and aside from a mission (hey, we can go when we’re old!), I have done the things that I wanted the most. When we graduated from BYU together in 2003 he was 26, I was 23, and we had 2 kids and we later had 2 more. I couldn’t be prouder of these “accomplishments”.
Now we are 40 and 36 and have been married for 17 years.
We have 5 kids. It has been a struggle to support a family of 7 on one income in California. We pay our 10% tithing every month, My husband works hard as a high school principal, and I don’t even have marketable work-from-home talents. But we make it and are a very, very happy family! We have our struggles (debt, depression, and a number of other things) but so does everyone else, single or married, kids or no, but we have been blessed to always have enough time and money. God truly has taken care of us every step of the way. He showed us what was right for us, we did it, and we were blessed for it. Because when you know which way you want to go, what are you waiting for?