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You Know You Have a Large Family When…

{Re-posted from my old TypePad blog}
IMG_8900_4792 blog
  • …your children feel sorry for families with only six or seven children.
  • …even your friends aren’t sure how many children you have.
  • …your family no longer fits in a 15 passenger van.
  • ..complete strangers feel welcome to comment on your contraceptive methods.
  • …you have to carry three health insurance cards in your wallet- because that’s how many it takes to fit everyone’s name.
  • …you take the wrong child to the dentist…simply because your handwriting on the calendar was messy and both started with a “j”.
  • …grocery shopping for 30 children and 12 adults for a two-day camp constitutes a “small” shopping trip for you.
  • You find yourself relating some small incident to your husband and starting with the words, “Well, I only boiled twenty-six eggs for breakfast…”
  • …you buy a 40-pound box of bananas intending to make banana bread and freeze a bunch for smoothies…but your children eat them all first.
  • …you find an afternoon root canal relaxing.
  • …you’ve given up on using your toaster entirely and make all of your toast under the broiler in your oven.
  • …you are seriously tempted by the stacking cribs you see at Goodwill for $19.99…and you’re not even pregnant.
  • …you find yourself thinking, “Wow, the house is so quiet and peaceful with only nine children”.
  • …you have enough children to constitute not one, but TWO large families.
  • …when you still have seven children that are required by law to sit in a car seat or booster seat.
  • …you call the doctor to get your children tetanus shots, and they tell you they don’t have enough in the office and need to order more from the health department.
  • …you take up more than one entire pew in church.
  • …you take only half of your children to the library, and STILL get asked if they’re all yours.
  • …you go to fill your children’s fluoride prescription at the pharmacy and you clean them out of every pill they have…and it’s still not enough.
  • you spend sixty dollars on socks…and not everyone gets new socks.
  • …you go shopping at Costco and the cashier asks if you’re having a soccer barbecue.


  1. Melissa Knox-Raab

    The line about a root canal being relaxing had me howling. Oh, even with only three children I feel like any excuse to sit in a doctor’s chair is relaxing. This will sound strange, but with only three kids we’re considered a large family here in Germany. I can only think of two or three other families with the same or more children–an awful lot of couples have one or none here, a sad national trend.
    I’m assuming you have all read CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN but if not, you would love it.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Melissa- It was that day that I realized how pathetic my life had become. We have friends who were missionaries to Germany..with their ELEVEN kids! They had to leave (they were no longer allowed to homeschool and refused to put their kids in the public schools). They now have an even dozen.

      • Melpub

        About homeschooling–there are ways to do it in Germany: I’m told by friends who did manage that you must know exactly what to say to the authorities. Germany is very regulated. They’re also afraid of parents who want their kids to grow up to be neo-Nazis (and there are, alas, such people, especially in reaction to the refugee crisis, which terrifies them). But I believe it can be done–contact German home schoolers. Since my kids need to be fluent in Germany, I did send them to public schools, but at home we did lots of “unofficial” home schooling–I used Calvert books and cut outs and “manipulables” (weird word) and DVDS of American folksongs and of course reading, reading, reading out loud–I still read out loud to the teenagers now. And they are fluent in both English and German; my oldest son is writing a blog about his year in China in both languages.

        • Sheila

          My husband is German (I’m from the U.S.) and we lived in Germany until our children were 11, 9, 6, 3, and newborn. We knew the law inside out, we knew families who had flown under the radar, we knew families who got a temporary position (mostly foreign-only families, but some Germans, as well), and we knew people who were put in jail and had custody of their children removed. We helped one family escape Germany–they hid out at our house for three days so that their children wouldn’t be removed from them, and then took them to the Netherlands to get a flight to the U.S.

          It’s not impossible in Germany, but far from straightforward, and it’s gotten more difficult. We fought for a year, then put the two oldest children (8 and 6 at that point) in school for six months, so that we could leave the country legally six months later. (They were going to put a stop on their passports so that we couldn’t take them out of the country because we were considering moving to Belgium in order to homeschool.) Then were gone for six months (to the U.S., Thailand, and Peru), and when we returned, we didn’t mention to any authorities that the children were there again. None of them were allowed to answer the phone, if the doorbell rang during school hours they knew to hide in their room and stay silent, they weren’t allowed outside during school hours, etc. Just as the authorities caught up with us again, we knew we’d be leaving for South Africa in half a year, so exaggerated how soon that was and how long we’d be gone and fought until we were IN South Africa, at which point we let them know that we were there and they should leave us alone. We were there for four months, laid low at home for another eight months, and finally moved to Cyprus.

          Not that it’s easy here, either, but that’s a whole ‘nother story…

            • Renee

              I think it’s fixed now 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story, that sounds so scary! The hiding and not answering the phone reminds me of stories of homeschooling here in the 80’s.

  2. Suze

    I remember this post. The only gem I can add is from my great grandfather. He was interviewed for his 104th birthday and admitted he didn’t know how many children he had and to ask his wife. She was no longer around and yes the paper printed it. I guess it made a change from all the depressing WWII news at the time.

    I wonder how many modern mums would accept that?

  3. Sheila

    I only have six children, but in August I had a root canal and a wisdom tooth extraction, and people kept trying to sympathize with me, and I kept saying, “Wait a minute–this was FOUR separate appointments, to which I drove ALL BY MYSELF, and during which I had no demands made on me, got to relax in a comfortable chair, and had AIR CONDITIONING!! (We live in Cyprus–it is VERY hot and humid in August) I was disappointed when it was all done!”

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