It’s true. However, before you call The Enquirer I should say that I’m talking about six collective years of pregnancy. Let’s do the math, shall we?
1 pregnancy = 9 months
8 pregnancies = 72 months
72 months divided by 12 = 6 years
This is a picture of all of my parents’ original seed.
The funny thing is, when I look at this picture, I think we look like such a small family. Really? That’s all of us? I say to myself because our family is so much, much MUCH bigger now. First my parents begat eight kids and then all of the kids started growing up and begetting and we now total 42, soon to be 43 next month.
I’ve been asked before what it was like to grow up in a big family, but I think it’s a funny question because I never had anything to compare to it. And even though eight kids is a lot, we weren’t big news or anything; there were several other big families around. I will say, however, that I seem to have a much higher tolerance level for large, loud groups than Ryan.
My childhood was happy and free from any serious trauma. I adored my older siblings, secretly wanting to be grown up and cool like them, and I bossed around my younger brothers whenever my mom was left with no other choice but to leave me in charge for a few minutes. My parents were wise, loving figures who raised us with their strong values. In fact, I blame them entirely for the fact that I haven’t written a bestselling novel—my childhood was just way too happy and normal. As a writer, I really got screwed.
For a special treat, I interviewed my mom regarding this subject. After all, she’s the star of this post. I think you’ll enjoy her answers as much as I did.
Me: What if your kids had been octuplets instead of eight different pregnancies?
Mom: How would life have been different? You would have been raised by a different mother and one day your father would have felt the need to bring you to the institution where I had been housed during your growing up years so you could meet your real mom.
Me: Do you have any thoughts about the controversial octuplet mama in California?
Mom: If as the story goes, she is depending on her mom to care for her 14 children while she finishes school, she should have included her in the decision. The fact that she had 6 embryos implanted seems extreme. Let’s hope she doesn’t become the poster child for limiting population and regulating even that portion of our lives.
Me: Let me take you back to 1983 when we all lived at home. What do you miss the most about that time?
Mom: I miss that season when, even though we had teenagers, there were still many times when we all spent family time together – especially our boating trips, but also just at-home times. You were all such good kids and you all seemed to look up to the older kids and enjoy the little ones. You were 6 that year. I still remember the t-shirt we bought for you that said, “I must hurry and catch up with the others for I am their leader.”
Me: What do you miss the least?
Mom: The rough-housing of the older boys that went from fun to not-so-fun when someone would get hurt.
Me: What was it like being pregnant for six (collective) years?
Mom: I would take that any day over multiple births. I had very normal pregnancies and other than feeling less energy (like during the first trimester I probably could have slept all day if given the chance), I was never sick.
Me: Did you ever receive any direct or indirect criticism for having so many kids?
Mom: Two times come to mind. The first was when we only had five. We had gone home to visit family in California and we got a lot of looks and a few comments. The other time was when [an old neighbor] told me that when God said to multiply and replenish the earth he wasn’t expecting me to do it all by myself.
Me: What did you worry about most as a young mother?
Mom: I believe the statement that you are only as happy as your saddest child is true. I’m not talking about the little skermishes of childhood necessarily, but the real hurts, disappointments, and possible consequences of choices made against your better judgment. I worried a lot when any of you were sick with high fevers, croup, earaches. It is amazing to me even now that none of you ever broke a bone. That may have been the result of being confined to your rooms until you were 18. What do you think?
Me: When are you going to let Lyle (my imaginary brother) out of the basement?
Mom: As soon as he fixes the foundation so we don’t get water in heavy rains. I’ve always told him those were the terms, but you know Lyle.
Thanks, Mom! You continue to be steady influence for good in my life. I don’t know how you did it, but I’m sure glad you did.