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The myths of big families

By Shelah Miner

There was a girl in my grade in elementary school whose family had FIVE kids. When I first met her, I remember saying, “Whoa,” like Sarah had just moved in from outer space instead of Shelton, Connecticut, the town to our north. When Sarah was absent for several days in a row, I figured her mom was too busy to send her to school because she had a big family. When her jeans got holes in the knees, I figured they must have been her older sister’s. When her hair was messy, it was because her parents were too busy to help her brush it. I made a lot of assumptions about Sarah’s family when I was a little girl.

When I was a teenager, I joined the LDS Church, and suddenly all these other big families I’d never noticed in my town and my surrounding towns started coming out of the woodwork. For the next several years, I sat in the chapel during sacrament meeting, and observed how parents with five, six, and fourteen kids did it. I came to a lot of conclusions. One of which was that I wasn’t ever going to do something as nuts as having half a dozen kids.

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