Humanity Over Viability, Love Over Logic

On October 28, 2007, our first child was born.  A girl.  She came unexpectedly 9 days before my due date.  I’d known we would have a girl first.  Call it Mother’s intuition (or that I had a 50/50 chance of being right), but I did have dreams about a daughter.  That she would have a full head of dark hair?  That was a surprise.  She was born with a furrowed brow.  She was predestined to be headstrong and passionate from the womb.

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We worried we wouldn’t be able to give our little girl a brother or sister after a year of failed attempts.  But our twins were born January 6, 2011 at 34 weeks gestation.  I had my theories about which of my two little boys would be the leader based on which one moved the most for those 34 weeks!  For the most part my thoughts have proven true, although I think the “little one” has more than caught up to “big brother” in both size and personality.

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Baby brother was slightly unexpected so soon, but welcomed completely nonetheless.  Our little Lochstar was born on November 25, 2012…two and a half weeks early (per the norm).  Coming home to a 5 year old drama queen and two 2 year old monsters all competing for attention, he was sort of thrown into the lion’s den.  But he held his own from day one and has absolutely never let anyone walk all over him (as you can see from the gesture in picture 2).

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I . LOVE . THESE . CHILDREN.  I could use the cliche that I’ve loved them “from the moment I laid eyes on them”.  But that’s not entirely true.

I loved Lochlan when, at 20 weeks, I found out I was having a 3rd boy instead of the sister for Jade I’d been hoping for.

I loved Calder when I realized the poor kid was getting pushed out of the way by his brother.  And when the doctor told me the reason for his smaller size may be because “Baby A is stealing all the food”.

I loved Everest when I felt his constant kicking against the same spot on my ribs for months as if he was slowly digging a tunnel out of prison.  He couldn’t wait to get out of there and take on the world.

I loved Jade the second the ultrasound confirmed that I was going to be a mother.  And even more when the next ultrasound confirmed I was right: I was having a daughter.

I loved them more each time I heard their heart beats, felt their hiccups, saw a picture of them sucking their thumb (and realized that it would still be a comfort to them in the “real world”), laid in bed with my husband’s hand on my belly waiting for the wave of a back flip or the press of a tiny foot.

I loved them when I finally got to look into each of their eyes, to kiss their foreheads, to feel their grip on my finger.  To tell them I LOVE YOU in person.

I knew my children — I LOVED my children — before they came into this world.  As soon as I saw and felt their first movements, I knew they were perfect and miraculous creations with immeasurable potential.  I love them more every day as they grow into the people they were sent to Earth to become.

It has been a privilege and a blessing to be able to give them that chance.

While it is an overly ambitious and probably futile dream, I hope that one day we will all — the human race in its entirety — realize how much value each human soul has; that every child that is conceived, planned or not, wanted or not, deserves a chance at life; that an unborn child absolutely does not deserve the pain and torture that is inflicted on them by a woman who chooses not to have the title of Mother; and finally, that we are accountable for our actions, whatever the consequence may be.

“Every single adult now was once 20 weeks old in the womb and we can look at each other and understand that the difference between a child in the womb and any of us now…is time. That’s a human being we’re talking about, and that human being has value.”   -Senator James Lanford (watch his incredibly powerful speech below)

The results of the decision to give a child a chance at life are beautiful and miraculous.

These are my miracles.

Jade Ondrea – 7 years old – Loves dancing, singing, reading, creating, learning, and making friends, dreams of being a Popstar, thinks all meat tastes better if you call it chicken, feels all things passionately, lives in the moment.

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Aaron Everest and Calder Reed – 4 years old – Love robots, planes, rockets, superheroes, swimming, jumping, falling, make believe, playing dressup, getting attention, birthdays, and each other.

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Lochlan Bradley – 2 years old – Loves bikes, baths, running, throwing, cousins, swings, slides, and most of all, his family.

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Becometh as a child…at least until you turn eighteen.

A favorite childhood pastime of mine (and one I would never let my kids do now, along with most of my other “pastimes”) was exploring the woods in my neighborhood with my friends.  One friend in particular had a home in a prime exploring spot that ran along a stream.  We spent a lot of time back there, and apparently so did her older brother.  While it was our favorite place to explore, it was his favorite place to hide his porn.  We came across it one day and I brought it home with me and stashed it in my nightstand.

I was 8.

Another unfortunate pastime of mine was seeking popularity with the wrong crowd.  One night a group of us got bored and decided to go rent a movie (remember video stores?).  While we were there, someone suggested that we sneak into the “back room”.  It’s not really sneaking if there isn’t someone guarding the door and checking your ID, but it was obviously a bad choice if we were being sneaky.  We returned home with an inappropriate movie, I probably called my mom to tell her I’d be late for my curfew because I was doing something really important (definitely not watching porn), and I sat there for an hour laughing uncomfortably with everyone else and thinking about whether it would be worth the embarrassment to tell them to turn it off.  I knew it was wrong, I had been taught better than that.

As a child I thought pornography was something that only adults could look at.  Something to “look forward to”, like driving, or voting.  Why was this stuff even on my radar as a child??  As a teen I learned that it was something that was not really appropriate at any age, but still acceptable in most circles.  I realize now, as an adult, that it is not only inappropriate and unhealthy, but leads to other more serious damaging and unhealthy behaviors (which I’ve seen firsthand with a close family member).

With the unveiling this weekend of the worldwide, morality-crushing phenomenon that I don’t even need to name, I feel the need to be yet another strong oppositional voice in defense of a return to virtue.  This week alone, I have seen far too may phrases used to justify a need for this kind of entertainment:

“It wasn’t abuse; he was upfront about what he wanted and she consented to it.”

“It may have started out dark but in the end it is a love story.”

“You shouldn’t judge BDSM if you’ve never tried it.  Some people really enjoy it.”

“It’s not hurting anyone.  Just don’t see it if you don’t agree with it.”

“It’s not real life, it’s just fantasy.  Stop making such a big deal out of it.”

“We’re sexual beings designed perfectly by God.  We can choose to express our sexuality in whatever way we want.”

What??  Don’t blame God for this.  And as if that last one wasn’t bad enough, an even more terrifying card is being played:

“I won’t let my kids won’t see this.  Certain things are made for certain ages and this is an adult novel.”

I’ve been going over this and over this in my mind.  Why does it matter what age you are?  Is there an age that morality and decency stop being important, and if so how do we decide what that age is?  Once you’re 18 are you not emotionally affected by things like violence, profanity, and indecency?  One person admitted that she and her husband planned to see the movie together this weekend without their kids (obviously) but it’s okay because “we have a rule that our kids can’t date until they’re 16.”  Yes, that’s a start.  But what happens once they turn 16 and suddenly they decide to “express their sexuality in whatever way they want”, because Heaven forbid they be accused of inexperienced judgment?

I have to admit, I am not completely void of guilt in this respect.  When Aaron and I watch TV at night we turn the sound way down, and if our kids come into the living room at anytime we pause the show quickly to avoid the scarring that may occur when they see someone getting beaten up or shot or naked pushed up against a wall, or to avoid the embarrassment at the grocery store when one of them repeats a word they heard, or when they call someone that word at school (which did happen last week when my daughter told me a boy called her 6-year-old friend “sexy” on the playground).  The conversation that would follow would go something like, “Honey, we don’t use words like that,” “But they were saying it on TV,” “Yes, you’re right, but only adults can use words like that, and only when they’re really angry, or trying to be funny, and only when no one is listening, and only if they’re not Christians.”

Why the double standard?  If its not right for kids, why is it all right for us?

A scripture passage from the bible keeps popping up in my head:

…Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?  And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-4).

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We could all stand to learn from children.  Children come to Earth with “believing hearts. They are full of faith…They exemplify humility, obedience, and love. They are often the first to love and the first to forgive (Jean A. Stevens of the LDS Primary General Presidency).  With all the time we spend trying to move on and forget the past, maybe there is more to be gained from remembering it than we realize.

My valiant, pungent raindeer king

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One night many years ago, my sister and I were sitting in the basement of the home she was currently living in.  We were watching In Her Shoes, which was less than memorable because I couldn’t tell you today what it was about.  But the company was wonderful.

At about 10 o’clock my cell phone rang.  It was my college dance professor, Wendy Bone.  “Hey, Whitney, sorry to call so late.  I’m in sort of a desperate situation,” she said, “I had an emergency appointment come up tomorrow right in the middle of my classes and I was wondering if you could sub for me.”

This was BIG news!  Wendy never asked for my help!  Keep your composure Whitney, be cool, “Of course, what do you need me to do?”

“Could you come meet me at the school?  I know its late, but it would be much easier to go over the lesson plan with you in person and I won’t have time tomorrow.”  I didn’t need to think about it.  I apologized to my sister and hopped in the car.

When I arrived at the dance department building, I tried to recall if she had given me a meeting place.  I was pretty sure she had said to meet her on the stage, which was strange because her classes were in the studio.  But you don’t argue with Wendy.  I went to the stage door.

Darkness.

So I went to the studio.  Empty.  In fact, the whole building seemed to be empty.  I was sure she had said the stage, so I went back.  This time I saw a faint light coming from right in the middle of the stage.  As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I saw him.

Aaron McKee was standing center stage.

My mind couldn’t make sense of this situation, but the unfamiliarity of it made my heart pound as I walked towards him.  As I got closer I realized that there was music playing:  Goldberg Variations, a classical piano piece Aaron had told me he really loved.

He held my hands, and my entire future flashed before me as I looked into his eyes.  While I can’t remember the exact words that he said, I remember the feeling as he asked the most important question I’ll ever hear.  And my answer was yes.  It may have taken me a few days to realize fully that I had been lied to by Wendy, and that I didn’t ever finish that movie with my sister.

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Four short months seemed to drag on forever, and on May 6, 2006, eight years ago today, we were married in the Bountiful, Utah temple and sealed to each other for this life and for all eternity.

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I love this man.  He has shown me kindness, patience, and Christlike service and selflessness every day of the last 8 years.  He makes me laugh.  He’s brave when I am definitely not.  He allows me to be myself.  He has given me 4 beautiful children.  I am so proud of the man he is and is becoming (hopefully I have a little something to do with that).  I look forward to his future head of thick gray hair!

Happy anniversary Aaron!

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