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Family is everything and an introduction to mine

Family is everything and an introduction to mine
I was 17 and my parents made a phone call…to Planned Parenthood. And it wasn’t for me. Let me fill you in. Obviously when I was that age they weren’t dishing out all their juicy secrets to me, but years later I got the details. Here’s how the story goes. My parents had just called Planned Parenthood to get an appointment for my dad to get snipped. They went in on a Wednesday to finalize the details of the procedure, and the doctor kept asking my parents things like, “Are you sure you don’t want anymore kids?“ “If your wife died, is there any chance you might want more children if you were to get married again?” The questions were all super hilarious but my mom and dad adamantly said NO to all of them. They already had five kids and at this point their youngest, my sister Emily, who may or may not have been a surprise, was six. That same Wednesday my mom went to visit my sister Kelli up in Logan, Utah, where she and her husband, Loren, were living while they were in school at Utah State. They were newlyweds and had just bought a house so my mom drove there from Park City to help Kelly paint the house. After she arrived, Kelli surprised my mom with the news that she was pregnant! It was so exciting and my mom was crying and Kelli was so happy. I mean, hello, best news ever, right? Well, on the drive home from Logan to Park City, which takes about two hours, my mom kept thinking, “That's so weird…she’s pregnant! I'm going to be a grandma.” Probably normal things to be thinking when anyone is about to become a grandma, right? But there was more to it for my mom. She was late, and I don’t mean late getting home from Kelli’s. Her period was late and she was nervous. She decided to drive over to the grocery store by our house and get a pregnancy test on her way home. Like, could this be happening? She started psyching herself out thinking things like, “Could I be pregnant? I've missed my period…is there a chance??” At this point she was 45 years old so the thought of being pregnant just seemed crazy, let alone pregnant at the same time as her daughter. Father of the Bride Part II, anyone?? That kind of stuff doesn’t happen in real life, does it? She ran home from the store in a panic, ready to take the test. I was a senior in high school when this all went down and I was up in my room, right above the garage when she pulled in. I heard the garage door close and then I heard my mom walk to her bedroom. I had no idea, but at this point she had run in to the bathroom to take the pregnancy test. A few minutes later I heard someone screaming bloody murder. I literally jumped out of my bed and was like, “Oh my gosh, what is happening? Is someone dying?!” I ran to my parents room and I saw my mom’s shocked face. She yelled, “Go get in your bed!” and my dad had this weird look on his face and I turned around to go back to my room, totally weirded out. What was even going on? I went back and slipped into bed and was almost falling asleep when I heard my dad screaming like a freak. I mean, he was screaming and yelling even worse than my mom had been. Something was obviously up. How was I supposed to sleep when my parents were losing their minds like this? So again, I jumped out of bed and ran into their room and asked, “Like seriously, who died? What is going on? Are you guys okay?” They were both crying and again, asked me to leave them alone. So, I turned around and went back to bed with a million possibilities racing through my head. A few days later, my mom sat us down and gave us the news that indeed, she was pregnant! At this point my oldest sibling, Spencer, was 24. My mom would have children ranging from infancy to 24 years old! Kelli, who was also pregnant, was 22. My mom was 45 and my dad was 52 and they both felt so beyond crazy. My dad was going to get snipped that month. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Their family was complete. Obviously, God had other plans and I’m so glad He did. Since the minute we found out Sophie was going to be part of our family I loved her. From the minute she arrived until now she's kept our family so young and so sweet and it has definitely brought a different dynamic to our family. It has truly been such a gift for all of us.

Kelli and my mom, both about 6 months pregnant

I think the scariest thing for my mom was actually telling Kelli that she was pregnant because she she didn't want to steal the show, you know? She didn't want to take over Kelli's amazing spotlight of having the first grandkid. But Kelli took it like a champ and she was so happy and so excited for my parents. Both Kelli and my mom knew that my sister, Sophie and my niece Lindi were meant to come into this world together and they were meant to have this really special bond and relationship. And that’s exactly how it’s been from day one with them and it's just been really, really special.

Lindi on the left, and Sophie on the right

My mom with her daughter, Sophie, on the left, and her granddaughter, Lindi, on the right

Lindi and Sophie today

The year Sophie was born was the same year I went to college. She arrived in April and I graduated from high school in June, and I started college that fall, so Sophie has never actually lived with her three older siblings. It’s kind of like my parents raised three different groups of people. They raised the older four, then they raised Emily who was already the caboose by seven years, and then there is Sophie who is another seven years behind Emily. It's like three different families! But as Sophie and Emily have gotten older we have just bonded so much as a family, which is weird because there is such a huge age difference. However, my parents really fostered this atmosphere in our family that age doesn't matter, that circumstances don't matter and that we are a family and love each other no matter what. Currently, Spencer is 41, Kelli is 39, I am 35, Sam is 31, Emily is 24, and Sophie is 17. My sisters and brothers are my very best friends. It makes me emotional to think about it, but we truly root for each other and we love each other. We celebrate each other's wins, we mourn one another’s losses and I'm just so incredibly grateful for my family. They truly mean so much to me and that's why they're on my Instagram all the time because they're such a big part of my life. My parents were really great at cultivating strong sibling relationships. I mean hello, we definitely fought. Don't get me wrong, my family is not perfect. We’ve all made mistakes and had some major fights, but I think at the end of the day we are each other's cheerleaders. I don't know if it's brainwashing or not, but my mom always told us, “You guys are best friends. No matter what, you’re blood and you’re family and you’re best friends and we love each other and that’s it.” That's something that I want to carry over to my children and a feeling I want to have in my own little family. I want to make sure they know they are besties and that they love each other no matter what and that we are here for each other. Something I really love about my family is that we are a dang good time. Truly. We're always down to have fun and be rowdy and playful and play games and just enjoy our time together. We love having fun together and celebrating together. It's really interesting because Ammon and I have lived with or next door to both of our parents at one point in our marriage and we've loved it. I was initially nervous, but we've set boundaries and created rules from the beginning with them and it's been really nice. It’s been all the good things I hoped it would be, and honestly nothing negative and I'm going to be sad when I move away from my parents so I'm just trying to enjoy the time by them now. I am really grateful to my parents for normalizing the fact that making mistakes is a part of life. They made us feel like mistakes were actually a good thing, a positive thing even, and you can learn and grow and become more of who you’re meant to be through them. It was obvious to us that perfection was unrealistic and that really helped all of us to just love ourselves and be confident and know that when we made a mistake, we were still loved, we were still valued, and we were still worthy. Mistakes are a part of the human experience and it’s okay. What a gift it was to have that feeling in our home and in my life. It’s something I’ve carried with me and feel in my core to be true for all of us. Life isn’t perfect. We are not perfect. We never will be, and that’s part of what makes life so beautiful and what I love to celebrate. I want to make that obvious to my own children, but also to anyone who follows me. Confidence comes not from being perfect, but in realizing that you can love yourself just as you are.


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