I recently made contact with a school classmate of mine from our graduating class. We connected via face book and have sent a few messages back and forth. She commented in her last message "But, I am so interested in all your children and how you manage.” When I sat down to reply to her comment I realized I had so much to write that I would blog about how we came to be—my family and me.
How is it in this day and age a woman of 47 has 14 children?
My husband had been married briefly when he was a young man-this marriage spawned his oldest daughter. Then we married and started a family right away. When I was pregnant with our third son the comments began "don't you know what is causing this” was the most common. When I became pregnant with fourth child I was very upset. I did not want to be pregnant and I certainly was not happy to be so. In fact I was angry.
I recall phoning my father sharing the news with him. Within a week I received a letter in the mail. The anger and frustration must have come through my voice because his letter explained how he and my mother never thought it was the right time to have another child. Whether it was because of finances, or time, there was always a reason to say “no not now”. Unplanned and unexpectedly my mother became pregnant with her fourth and last child. That child was me.
In his gentle and kind way he was trying to tell me "don’t be so selfish Terri. You too were once an unexpected fourth child who was welcomed and loved". Here I was bemoaning a pregnancy with a child who could only bring us joy and love. My attitude turned 360 and I embraced my pregnancy. Unfortunately I was not to carry this baby to term. I lost her while I was at home alone, the pains of the miscarriage were acute and painful much like labor. It is not easy for women to lose a child under any circumstance.
God blessed our family with the addition of our sweet Nichole. By this time our oldest daughter was quite independent. She and her older siblings were natural helpers, getting a diaper, holding or carrying the baby, or whatever the situation happened to be at the moment. On occasion I have heard comments about large families- and tsk tsk - the older children do so much of the work. What these misguided comments don't understand is how these roles are assumed naturally. They create such a strong character for the older children. I could not have given the world more beautiful, socially conscience d, and independent citizens, had they not been blessed with a large family. My children quite frankly are remarkable.
I distinctly recall thinking wow this is easy. The first three children were the most tiring because I was a young mother, there were no older helping hands and my husband worked long hours. After the birth of Nichole I was not averse to more children. I gave birth to two more sons, and endured two miscarriages.
For some reason, and usually unplanned, our home often had an extra child or person living with us. Children were frequent sometimes long term guest in our home.
Eventually we were asked to assume the care of a young baby which initially I was not keen to accept. My co-worker literally begged me to take the baby for three weeks. I handed the decision over to my husband because she was not accepting my no –he said yes. At the time I was driving to my stay with my father-who was waiting for heart surgery- for a few days.I stopped to pick up the baby first, getting pulled over by the police, but not acquiring a speeding ticket when I explained why and where I was going.
Something completely unexpected and amazing happened-when I was alone with the baby. A familiar sensation warmed over me. It was the exact sensation I received when I left the hospital with my newborn biological babies. This is difficult to explain but suffice to say I knew this baby was a gift. This sensation was a moment of bonding between a mother and child that can never be revoked. He is now 10. Our young man started a movement in our home we have since added five more babies as fully fledged members of our family. Our extended family members consider our bonus children equally as their cousins,nephews, or niece as they do our biological children. We are truly blessed.
I cannot express the honor it is for me to be chosen to love and nurture these children, or to witness my own flesh and blood accept other human beings as full siblings, without reservation. For example, my oldest children moved out of the home when the youngest three arrived. Yet the bonds between them are unbelievably strong. They drive from the city to pick up them up for play dates, the younger children are frequently invited for sleep over’s with their older sisters. Not a week goes by that the older siblings do not stop at our home or phone their younger siblings.
I did absolutely nothing to deserve this gift. At times I am moved beyond words when I look at our children and marvel that I am their mother. I cannot explain it in any other way. It is a gift and a blessing of unbelievable proportions to be given this opportunity in my life.
My journey as a mother has been peppered with joy, occasional sadness, extreme loss, worry, laughter, above all love-unbelievable love!!! Here I am at 47 still amazed at my 18 month old or our 3 year who retain such innocence and unconditional love. I am more patient with the younger children then I was with my older children. I know now how fast time passes by so I savor their youth and enjoy it. My sons who are eight give me as much pleasure as the younger kids.
Yes, we have our bad days, some days I get cranky and nag -because I can. Some days our teenagers behave like—well teenagers— and we have our squabbles. None of us is afraid to say “I am sorry I was wrong”, or to make amends in other ways. The comments from strangers no longer faze me, rather, as we get older and our family gets larger we hear less negative comments then we did when we had four children.
My oldest daughter graduated from University with a Professional Writers degree. She is employed with an oil company as a Technical Writer. She has been promoted more than once over the past year. She married the vice principle of the local school, another joyful addition to our family.
My second oldest graduated from a Bachelor of Nursing Degree, she just moved in to her new condo today-her first home owners purchase.
My eldest son has worked steady for the same company since graduating high school- he continues to play hockey, he likes girls and nice cars. He is becoming a man and we are proud of him.
The other children remain at home all of them perform very well in school. The reports I receive from school are filled with comments about their goodness and generosity towards others. Of course they have moments where they argue and fight and may even be mean to others, but the good emanating from them obviously outweighs the negative.
Last —but never least— is my husband of 24 plus years. He cooks—much better then I — he assists with cleaning and has always been a hand on dad. He can be gruff at times but his children love and adore their daddy. He does so much for and with them I cannot imagine a more dedicated father than my husband. Our life together has weathered some storms, but we are more in love then when we met. It is a satisfying love that develops as we age, it is so much deeper and real then the love and passion of the early days.
As for how I manage...well that will be for the next blog. thanks for reading this one. Blessings
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- Married 24 yrs Oldest child 24-my youngest is 18 months Ed- University Arts Diploma-College Degree-Theology- certified S.A.F.E. Home Assessor-numerous certificates- numerous hats SW field from inner city prostitutes to struggling families-UN Observer-traveled portions of the world. Greatest joy derived from my faith, being a wife to my husband, and motherhood. Daughter # 1 beautiful married Professional Technical Writer Daughter # 2 Beautiful-Registered Nurse Daughter #3- Beautiful-smart- 2 amazing children Son #1-20 soon likes the girls and nice cars Daughter #4-Beautiful Alberta-homeschooling grade 11 Son# 2 Grade10 homeschooling-handsome gifted musician Son # 3 honors handsome gifted writer and story teller Son #4-Grade 6 honors handsome-kind generous Son #5 Grade 4-kind generous helps everyone determined Son # 6 loving kind smart athletic Son #7- funny memory like an elephant Daughter # 5 no one compares to this rose Daughter #6 the sunshine of our lives- our rainbow and beacon of joy Son # 8 stocky -big grin courageous and strong Son # 9 Gerber baby the most gorgeous baby of all my children-big brown eyes curly hair- and a smile that lights the room