“Yes, they’re all mine.”

I wonder how many times I’ve uttered these words to perfect strangers who seem to think they’re well within their rights to look over my brood of well-behaved young people and say, “That’s a lot of kids. Are they all yours?”

“Yes, they’re all mine,” I answer proudly with a smile.

“Well, ya know what causes that don’t you?”

That one just makes me stare at the offender as if they have three heads. One of these days, I’m going to just have to keep a straight face and reply, “No, can you explain it to me?”

I Like Big Families and I Cannot Lie

Five. That’s how many kids I have. Not enough to star in our own reality TV show or form our own sports league. Not enough to warrant buying a mini-bus or to build onto our house. We have five kids, and we love it.

I’ll be honest and say that I only planned on having one baby. The others were all happy surprises, and I’m so thankful for each of them. Having a big family was never on my radar but now that I have one, I realize how much I missed out on growing up with only one sibling.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong number of kids a family should have. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages of every size family. I just happen to like them big.

One of my favorite aspects of big-family life is dinner time. Even though my kids are mostly grown, we still have dinner together every night, and those dinners often last two hours.

We all sit around the table to eat, talk, and laugh. My girls and I love Gilmore Girls and FRIENDS so my husband developed a “FRIENDS Challenge” and a “GG Challenge.” He throws out a random word to see if we can think of a time that word/item/place was mentioned or used in one of the shows. It keeps us laughing. Then my youngest daughter imitates her father’s voice and asks everyone at the table, “So, what did you do today?” It may not sound all that funny to an outsider, but every night I hold on to the truth that we are making memories my kids will hold with them for a lifetime.

Our Big Fat Blended Family

I should also mention that we are a blended family. My husband and I married almost 11 years ago, bringing his child and my four children together into one big family. We’ve had sole custody of all five kids ever since so while we are blended, we are very much whole. And while I may not have given birth to one of my daughters, she is still very much mine. We don’t have step-children and step-parents in this family. We are just a family. 

all mine wedding

If you’ve ever blended anything in a blender, you know that it’s nearly impossible to distinguish one ingredient from the rest. For example, if you blended several berries together, you might occasionally get a little chunk of blueberry or strawberry but for the most part, you just taste the overall goodness of berries. That’s the way our family operates. We may have a tradition that stems from his side or a saying that stems from my side, but all of those things are blended together and we make them “ours”. 

Mine! Mine! All Mine!

I know that raising a big family isn’t for everyone. I’ve had moments when I thought keeping up with all of them would be the death of me. I’ll never forget the year we had “Meet the Teacher Night” at 3 different schools with over 20 different teachers. That was rough. And the two years that I homeschooled all 5 kids while working on my bachelor degree? That was insane. But overall, so worth it!

That 20-year-old girl majoring in Psychology at Lee University? She’s mine.

That 19-year-old boy majoring in Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle University? He’s mine!

That 19-year-old girl that beat ovarian cancer and is now taking classes at Seminole State? She’s mine.

That 17-year-old boy who is graduating early and enrolled to start working on his degree in Aeronautical Science (flight school)? He’s mine.

And that 12-year-old girl who plays piano and dances like an angel? Yeah, she’s mine, too.

They’re all mine and I couldn’t be prouder of them. 

christmas familyYes, I’m proud of their accomplishments. I’m proud of their work ethic and their intelligence. But most importantly, I’m proud of them for being good humans. I’m proud of their hearts and the way they serve others. I’m proud of the fact that they are young men and women of integrity, that they are respectful kids, and that they love others well. I’m proud of the choices they’ve made to surround themselves with good people, to help those less fortunate, and to treat others they want to be treated.

These amazing young adults are all mine, and I certainly am blessed that they are.