Thirty seven years ago, at the age of eighteen, I married the man I am still married to today. I was young, very innocent, and as happy as a girl could be. All I ever dreamed of being was a wife and mother. The first part of my dream had come true, and three years later, the second part became a reality too, when our first child was born.
Now, ten children later, I sometimes reflect on my life. I am a completely different person than I was as a newlywed teenaged girl. I am a more mature, hopefully wiser person. Being the mother of ten children has changed my life in so many ways:
First, I was not prepared for the gut wrenching love I would feel when I held my warm, wet, bloody firstborn in my arms. I suddenly knew that I could actually die for someone. If danger were to come to our house, while I might jump behind my husband, I knew I would jump in front of my daughter. I was suddenly dedicated with everything in me to protecting this little girl.
And I had found my calling. I knew I wanted to be a mother, and now I knew that mothering was my life. As the years went on, I gave birth six more times, and adopted three times. I have fostered more than fifty children. I love mothering with a passion.
Second, as my family continued to grow, I learned that my time would have to become their time if I wanted them to grow up right. My first two children spent some time in public schools, and then I began to homeschool. This is our twentieth year of homeschooling. My children and I are together, as the saying goes, “twenty four/seven”. In the beginning, that was hard, but as I learned to give up myself to the raising of my children, great peace settled over me. I am where I want to be, and I am very happy.
Third, I have physically become stronger in some ways, weaker in others. Giving birth seven times, then adopting in my fifties, has taken a toll on my body. A hemorrhage with my sixth birth and carrying large babies in my very small body took a lot of my physical strength. But in the place of that, I have six sons, four of them either grown or in their teens, and they take care of me now and do all of the heavy work and lifting.
At the same time, in order to care for my large family, I have learned to eat right, keep my weight down and my spirits up so that I can meet the demands of having grown children, teenagers, preteens, and even a toddler to care for. I am rarely sick, and I contribute that to learning how to take care of our bodies, something that is very important for a mother to know.
Fourth, I have grown personally. Having a large family, and fostering so many children have given me a lot of insight, and that, along with my love of writing, has given me a ministry. I love to tell people that children really are a blessing, just like the Bible says they are. I want to teach young mothers how to care for and love their children. I want to spread the word that there are so many children in the foster care system in need of a home. And that although you may suffer heartbreak when you foster, little children are suffering heartbreak too. Help them.
Fifth, emotionally, I have become strong. I have learned that as you do your best to raise your children, they may grow up and not agree with everything you have taught them. And I’ve learned that it’s okay when that happens. A parent’s job is to give their children an excellent foundation so that they will be able to make good choices when they are on their own. Our job is to keep them safe and pure while they are under our roofs, so they can start out without strikes against them. And I learned that the only way to raise pure children who make good choices is to be pure and make good choices myself. It made a huge difference in my own life.
Parenthood has made a better person of me. It has made me a happy, content person. It has made me less selfish. My large family has insured that I will never be alone, and that my children will never be alone, either. I have a fuller, richer life because of my children.