Monday, January 14, 2013

One of 14

I don't talk about it much, but I'm one of fourteen kids. The oldest if you were wondering, all from the same mom and dad, no adoptions, one set of twins, 10 girls and 4 boys, we don't have a chef (yes, I've been asked that one too). Hope that answered any lingering questions you might have about my family, and now you know why I don't bring it up much ;) Being in a big family attracts a lot of attention and too many questions and I try to avoid all of that. I know people are curious though. Here's the most recent family photo with names and ages:
Philip Gabriel Photography
Left to right: Mary (25), Caroline (18), my husband Chris (29), Me (26) and of course our three kids, Anastasia (15), Azelie at bottom (12), Gerard (11), Perpetua the bride (22), Matt the groom (24), Elizabeth (23) and her husband Chuck (23), Catherine at bottom (10), Sal (21), Louis (11), Victoria (19), Philomena (17) and Joseph (13). My parents are on either side of the bride and groom.

How many siblings do you have? If you have any questions about the family I came from, feel free to ask! :) 

43 comments:

  1. Amazing picture! People think that being one of six is a big deal, but I love it and wish I had more siblings! You are part of a very beautiful family! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You'll have to tell me their ages and your place in line sometime! I actually didn't like being from such a large family myself (see my reply below). Do you plan a bigger family, Sarah?

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  2. I am #5. My older brother is 37 his name is Erik, sister is 35 -Amy, Sister Tiffany is 29 and my twin brother and I are 27, his name is Justin and Im Brandy!

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  3. Do you plan to have a family this big?

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    1. NO!!! Maybe 2-3 more children at absolute most. People might find it surprising, but I actually don't like being from such a big family. It's draining. The constant questions in public, people think you're weird and I had a lot of responsibilities growing up helping with the younger siblings. Sometimes I feel like I didn't get to be a "kid" myself. I can't even bring myself to watch reality shows with big families. I've never really opened up about it before, but there you go! :0

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  4. What a beautiful family! I am the oldest of four. :)

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  5. I'm glad you posted this. I have always had questions about your family! Hope you don't mind! :)

    1) Do you think your parents are done having kids?
    2) Given your religious views, I assume your parents opted to view children as a blessing and just take them as they came. That said, did they/do they practice NFP or did they forsake all means of preventing births and just have as many kids as possible? Curious because I am also Catholic.
    3) Is your family wealthy? What does your dad do??
    4) Do you think that a family this size has disadvantages?

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    1. 1.) Definitely the youngest is 10. They would have wanted more, but they got older. I'm surprised most people don't seem to know the statistics that after 35 concieving is hard. My mom had her last at 40. The doctor said it was a 1 in 10,000 chance.
      2.) They did not prevent children and wanted many.
      3.) Interesting. When I was growing up, no. In fact, we had VERY few things. I didn't know people got clothes from the Mall, I didn't have a cell phone till college, no video games, etc. Eventually my Dad started a legal business and in the last 8 years has been very successful. My younger siblings have a much different life than I did.
      4.) Absolutely. The US was made for the family of four :) Try asking for a table for 16 at a restaurant and imagine the wait! To me the constant public questions and cristism was too much. Now it's "cool" to have a big family. Reality TV has brought it to the public eye. What I wish people could know is that our family life was NOT like the Duggars. There was not 3 washers, cafeteria sized kitchen, etc. We had 2 1/2 bathrooms and a very average size house.

      Of course there are benefits too. There's always something you can borrow or pass down, someone to play with, nice compliments from strangers, always someone to help, etc.

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    2. I'm definitely aware that fertility is harder after 35.

      I wondered about your family's financial situation because your younger sisters look like they have expensive things.

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    3. Haha! Yeah, my parents are 50 :)

      Yes, they do have some expensive things. I don't post about them much here, so I'm guessing you are a facebook friend? :) I hope I didn't offend you with any of my responses. They sound a little cut and dry, but I mean them lighthearted!

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    4. I wasn't offended, but you sounded a little "experty" there for a minute.

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    5. I was just taken aback by the question, given how old my parents are! They've known for at least 10 years that children were no longer a possibility. Thanks for the questions! :)

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  6. A family of 5 or 6 is still considered pretty large. But definitely not large compared to yours!

    So...when you are done with kids, what will you do? I know you believe in no contraception. Is a vasectomy okay? Tubal ligation? Are those okay?

    Or will you do NFP for the rest of your lives?

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    1. Yeah, it's larger. We'll see. There are no promises we'll be blessed with even that many. I don't take that for granted.

      That would be sad to be done with kids. I LOVE little kids. Lucky I picked a career as an elementary teacher, so I can always be around them if I'd like. No, to any of those. They are against our faith beliefs. It would be NFP.

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    2. I had no idea you're an elementary school teacher! How awesome! What grade do you teach? How long have you done it for? Are Chris or Andrew in your class?

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    3. Yeah, that'w what I have a degree in :) I just privately teach right now. The boys aren't old enough for school yet. I hope to go back to the "regular" classroom once they are older.

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  7. Very interesting comments and questions!

    I've always been fascinated with your large family, it's so cool! You are all so dang good looking too. :)

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    1. Thanks, of course we all look our best for a wedding ;)

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  8. i love big families too. i have often wanted to adopt a sibling set to make it 6 kids. I had 4 c-sections already and feel like a 5th would be pushing it. but as the years have gone on, my boys have gotten more demanding and i can only handle my 4 kids currently. i can imagine that having 14 kids for your parents was a labor of love--seems like only certain people can handle it with grace! but what do i know!!!

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    1. I never knew you had c-sections. Wow, you are one tough cookie! I think c-sections are harder than even natural deliveries. It definitely is a lot of work, that's why everyone even the other kids have to help out. I'm finding running after 3 right now is all I can handle!

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  9. Oh my! What unique names!! All so pretty :) are they family names or did they have any special meanings to your parents?

    Do you think any of your siblings will follow in your parents footsteps and have a larger family?

    And...do your kids call their younger aunts and uncles "aunt" and "uncle"?

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    1. Yes, we were all named after saints! All of our names have religious significance in some way.

      I'm not sure. I think most want around 5-6 like me :) Not one has said more than that!

      Actually they don't and it's a problem. My younger siblings are so little that they refer to them as "Nana's kids." It's hard to get them to use aunt and uncle since they are in close in age. We're working on it with my older siblings at least.

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  10. First, what an awesome picture of Petchies wedding. Second, I think it is so awesome you're the oldest of 14!! I'm the youngest of only two and growing up and even now it was kind of boring. I always wanted a large family and was determined that I would be a.super Catholic and have at least have 6 kids haha! Now I'm struggling to be able to conceive 1 let alone let myself think of still having a huge family. My husband is the second youngest of 6 and like you, doesn't like coming from such a big family. His reasons being there never being a lot of one on one time with parents, parents at school/sporting events, etc. but that too could be they were busy with kids and church duties (he was raised lds).

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    1. I think having a big family is fun, but being in a big family is not as fun. I try to be aware of that with my kids. I didn't know your hubby was from a big family! Nice :)

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  11. Such a beautiful family! My dad is the oldest of thirteen so holidays at my grandma's house were amazing. I always felt bad for my future kids because they weren't going to experience the fun I had with so many cousins since I am just one of three. Well, I solved that problem by marrying the oldest of a large family! My in-laws just had their twelfth baby two weeks ago. My mother-in-Iaw is a saint. love big family life, and I can't wait to give our son siblings. Hopefully I can look as great as you do after multiple kids!

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    1. Oh wow, that must be different having your in-laws have a baby! I'll have to check out your blog! :)

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  12. What a great entry! I've always been fascinated by your family, because as one of two, I can't imagine having so many siblings! My family remembers seeing your family at opening weekend and I think one of your sisters asked us for the extra chairs at our table. My mom is one of six, and she definitely says that the oldest and youngest siblings had totally different upbringings.

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  13. I so admire your honesty here - in the post as well as the comments.
    Openness to life is also, importantly, a process of discernment, I believe.

    Those couples that feel called to have as many children as is physically possible, without any spacing, are as uniquely called to that as some couples who feel called to adopt in addition to having biological children, I think. It's not something people should feel guilted into if they are overwhelmed or unattracted to the possibility. That's a recipe for disaster.
    It is beautiful looking at your big family - but your own sweet little family is just as beautiful in its own way.

    I also think its rough when a child grows up feeling like they've been a third patent all their lives. It's something that really can't be avoided when you have a lot of kids close together, but I definitely want to be very intentional with how much I'm asking my own kids to help. I don't think you should have to change diapers of babies that are not your own. (I was the oldest of my big(ish) family. It has made me see things a little differently. I want my kids to feel more spoiled :)

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    1. Very well put! I totally agree with everything you said.

      The diaper changing is certainly true!! I say to my husband that I went from changing my siblings diapers and now my own kids. Definitely not fun and not something I will ask my kids to do.

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  14. wow, thats so awesome. I love big families. I have two older sisters, but sometimes really wihs I had a brother!
    http://coffeebeansandbobbypins.blogspot.com/

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  15. I had no idea! I am one of 9 and I thought that was a lot. I have 6 brothers and 2 sisters and I LOVE being part of a big family. Truth be told very, very few parents can do it. Mine did an okay job, but they didn't make enough individual time for us. But they did the best they could and I love them. Your family is Gorgeous. All of you.

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  16. This is a wonderful picture of all of you! Your purple dresses really pop beautifully next to the green lawn. In the comments you had mentioned getting pregnant naturally as a 1 in 10,000 chance at the age of 40. I have read that it's a 5 in 100 chance. Maybe I misunderstood your answer. I'm so fascinated that your parents had 14 kids in 16 years. I have friends who had 11 children in 21 years. I can wrap my head around that much more easily as my own natural cycling has given us kids two years apart. ~ LR

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  17. Just read through ALL of the comments after your post. It was really great getting to know this side of you. I figured out a while ago from you and Petchie's photos that you were from a big family, I just didn't realize how big. But I applaud you for your honesty. :) Thanks for sharing this, MJ!

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  18. Wow - I know you had a not great experience with it, but I love big families! My hubby and I both come from 6 kids, and hope that's what we have too :)

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  19. Your family is absolutely beautiful! Thanks for being so candid regarding your family experience.
    I have three siblings. I come from a Catholic family as well; in fact, my cousin Mary has ten children and I have often wondered how she "holds it together"-haha. She and her husband do an excellent job though. My husband and I have decided to keep our family small for various reasons. We are thinking one or two.

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  20. Just thought I'd chip in as one of ten. I'm number six, and a twin/triplet (my parents lost one during labor). I'm one of those to say I love it, but I'll also say I'm very glad I'm not the oldest, like Marjorie. The oldest kids have a lot of responsibility and it is often made harder because the younger siblings resent being told to obey a non-parent. Of the large families I know, the oldest rarely seems to follow by having a large family themselves. My mom is the sixth of eight kids, and she had ten children, but none of her siblings had more than three children.

    Personally, when it comes to the awkward comments from strangers and gawking, I always took that as kind of a challenge and an opportunity to stand up for something that meant ALOT; my family and the right to have one. However, that may be partly do to my Irish fighting spirit side, as my siblings had similar reactions. I think it is sad that large families have been turned into a political/social statement. So often people assume some of us must have been accidental, or that my mother must be a downtrodden under-educated female subservient to her husband, because no woman could WANT that many kids. I always have news for the world on that. Both my parents decided they wanted a large family before they met, and when they were engaged they dreamed of having enough kids to fill a suburban. Both my parents are college educated at on of the best universities in the nation.

    The whole big family/catholic pro-life issue is very personal to me, because as a triplet my parents were advised to do a "selective reduction" and abort me or one of my sisters. Sure, big families, and parenthood in general are not for everyone, but we those with hearts big enough who are willing to take on the huge amount of work shouldn't be attacked for their choice, or told to be sterilized.

    As one of ten I had am amazing support group always there for me. I have cerebral palsy (mild) and some of my earliest memories are my siblings helping me learn to walk, and my brother carrying me up a mountain piggyback when I was four and he was nine. All the years since then I've climbed that mountain on my own two feet. We are not angels, and we don't always get along perfectly, but when push comes to shove, they are there for me, and I'm there for them. I'd love to give any kids I have in the future the gift of such siblings, and if I can be the sort of parent to them my parents were to me, I'll consider that a job very well done.

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  21. I just wrote a long in depth comment/reply as one of ten, and aol messed up my posting it, ugh! Still, I guess the benefit is you guys don't have to read it. ;-)

    I think it's sad that big families have become a political/social statement. Sure, big families and parenthood in general are not for everyone, but those that choose to have five or more kids shouldn't be attacked for it. People used to assume that some of us must have been accidental, or that my mother must be a downtrodden, undereducated female subservient to her husband, because no woman could WANT so many kids. I have news for them. Both my parents wanted a large family years before they met, and when engaged they dreamed of having enough kids to fill a suburban. They are also both college educated at one of the best universities in the country.

    When it came to awkward/rude comments I always saw that as an opportunity to defend something that meant alot to me; my family and the right to have one. This response may of course be due in part to my Irish fighting spirit side, as my siblings have similar reactions. The pro-life catholic/big family issue is also more personal for me than for some. As a (naturally conceived) triplet pregnancy, my parents were advised to do a "selective reduction" and abort me or one of my sisters. I'm alive because they refused.

    My siblings always made a great support group for me. I have cerebral palsy (mild) and some of my earliest memories are of my siblings helping me learn to walk, and my brother carrying me piggyback all the way up a mountain when he was nine and I was four. Sure, we are not angels and don't always get along perfectly, but when push comes to shove, they are there for me, and I'm there for them. If I could give any hypothetical future children the gift of such siblings, and be the sort of parent for them that mine were to me, I'd consider it a job well done.

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  22. Thanks for sharing this side of yourself MJ. I can relate as the oldest. Even though there were 3 of us, being in a single parent family put a lot of responsibility on me, especially in high school after my grandparents moved back to Poland. Chris is the oldest in his family as well. We originally said we wanted 5 or 6, now we'd be happy with 2 or 3. Now that she's here, we've both said we don't want Lillie's whole childhood to be full of memories of me going to infertility appts etc. we will see what happens but righ now, our hearts and plates are full.

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  23. Have you ever heard of a blog called Annapolis and Company? It's written by Mary Beth, who is also from a family of 14. She started writing about it on her blog and then stopped so she could turn it into a book instead. She seems to have the same feelings that you do about coming from such a large family: all the questions, hardships, etc.

    Although I like the idea of having a big family, I'm not sure that I am cut out to have more than 4 or 5 children! LOL.

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  24. I just stumbled on your blog (I think from Grace?). I am one of 10 and we are also Catholic. It was definitely an interesting way to grow up especially in SO Cal where no one has more than 1.5 kids!! Lol

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  25. Your family is absolutely beautiful! And everyone of you that I have meant I have been so impressed by! I need notes from your parents. I am the middle of 7 and sometimes I have wished i was from a smaller family, but then i don't know...I wouldn't be who i am. Thinking about all the time and energy my parent's would have to focus on me makes me uncomfortable! lol

    Something my Mom has said that I love is, "One thing I know... Children are always a happy thing and you can't have them forever." meaning fertility ends. As young women we often don't think of that but I remember my mom being very sad when she knew her baby days were over.

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