12 Questions I Have for People Who Have 12 Children

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In the 75 years since my last blog post, Harper has started pre-K at our local public school. It is a wonderful school, her teacher is lovely, and her classroom literally looks like goddamned illustration of Brooklyn’s beautiful diversity. Her new BFF (with whom I’m not sure she’s exchanged words) is a tiny girl who wears sparkly hijab every day. Harper finds her sense of style to be perfectly amazing. This little lady’s mother is a smiley, sort of shockingly gorgeous woman who, in her broken English, told me — so proudly — that she has 7 girls and 5 boys. I fainted. When I came to, I sputtered, “you mean…children? But that’s…12. That adds up to 12.” She confirmed.

Now, I am super into being tolerant of people’s practices, religious, sartorial, family-planning-wise. And I super want to project that attitude to my kids. And I realize it is not polite to shake people by their shoulders and demand information on what it is like to have so many children. But I just have so many questions that I can never ask. So many! I don’t even mean about the religious beliefs, it’s fine, I’ve seen Monty Python, I get it.

But I wish — and maybe someone on the internet can tell me, because I’m totally serious, I really want to know — I could ask mothers-of-many:

1) HOW DO EVERYONE’S TEETH GET BRUSHED?

2) How many times have you lost one of the kids? Be real now. I have two and I feel like head is on a constant swivel.

3) What kind of CAR do you HAVE?

4) I guess you don’t go on family vacations, right? Or do you? Or how does that work? Buying 14 plane tickets to visit Grandma in Iowa/Florida/Pakistan – no, right? Or – what? 

5) Do you ever ever ever have a full night’s sleep in your entire life? Does that ever happen? Aren’t you SO TIRED?

6) HOW DO EVERYONE’S NAILS GET CLIPPED?

7) If you live in an apartment…just…what? Like…what kind of toy storage system are we talking about here? What happens when your 2 year old cries because he can’t find his one-inch-long train? Nothing, I guess? You’re just like, Deal with it?

8) What is the 12th childbirth like? Do you sneeze, pull the baby out, and then wipe your nose? See, I mean, this is personal, and not polite to ask. But my second birth was super fast and pretty crazy and I felt like that baby was scraping the floor by the end of my pregnancy. So…12th?

9) How on earth do you come up with 12 names you like and agree on? By the 9th are you like, “Mary!” And then your husband is like, “I think we already have a Mary.” And you’re like “Oh right! Um… Marie!” And he’s like, “Sure, whatevs.”

10) Groceries! Just – how? HOW? Is a wheel barrow involved?

11) How much does a babysitter charge for 12 kids? Judging by what we pay our sitter, it must be like… $108 an hour. So going to see a movie must cost you and your husband… $500. And that’s without dinner.

12) Aren’t you so tired? I know I already asked this but…aren’t you SO TIRED?

Okay. I’m sorry. I know these families are probably set up differently from mine – extended family around, maybe? Even though they are from another country – so – maybe? I’m not trying to be judgmental here, I’m really just amazed. I’m amazed that people have 3 kids. I know it’s a cliche to say “I don’t know how she does it” but…you know. 

I don’t know, you guys. Part of me wants to be like, “Girlfriend, let’s go get brunch and manicures. You need some ‘me time’.” Dare me?

5 responses to “12 Questions I Have for People Who Have 12 Children

  1. I imagine some of it has to do with not having 12 of them at one time. I mean, if this one is four or five, the oldest must be more than 20…that means a lot of kids old enough to be helpful. Clip their own nails. Clip the littlest’s nails. I have a 1 and 3 year old, so I don’t know myself, but I hear that at some point they start doing things like chores and that that makes everything better.

  2. Chloris Noelke-Olson

    Twelve? Haven’t they heard of ZPG (Zero Population Growth)? It’s no picnic finding the privacy to start the 2nd child…How does one find privacy to have the 5th, 8th, 12th? Or to just enjoy yourselves…in the broom closet…the barn?

  3. I dare you!

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