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What People Say When I Tell Them I Have 11 Kids…

Picture of the Luciano family When I tell people that I have eleven kids, I never quite know what people are thinking behind surprised faces and frozen smiles. Here in the Midwest, people are generally reserved and share their opinions cautiously, but acquaintances and grocery store cashiers have told me:

  • You must be a saint!
  • Better you than me!
  • How do you do it? I have my hands full with two kids!

Like a mother duck with a stroller, I’d lead my children through a public place, wondering if people were also thinking:

  • She looks tired.
  • Is she crazy?  
  • Ignorant?
  • Or just unrefined?

Shh…don’t tell anyone, but I am all of the above.

Yes…I’m tired, crazy, ignorant and unrefined. 

Tired, Crazy, Ignorant & Unrefined: One Mother’s Journey


My husband and I decided we would leave our family size up to God, although neither of us grew up with this mindset, and neither of us grew up in a large family. The Bible, peers, mentors and books inspired us to seek a different outlook on life. My husband and I had grown up in the church, but after being spiritually transformed in young adulthood, we realized we were tired of playing church and just hearing the Bible on Sundays. We wanted to grab hold of the practical, spiritual kind of truth that went beyond the expected norm.

We considered this truth from the Bible: Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. (Psalm 127:3). We decided to step out in faith and let God pour out His gifts upon us — in the form of children.


One dictionary definition for crazy means: extremely enthusiastic, fanatical, or passionate.You could say that our approach to family size was our way of living out a crazy, passionate faith.

We heard, “Children are expensive. Your husband must have a good job.”

The saying God pays for what He orders has been true in our lives. Working hard along the way, we saw God increase our finances as we added members to our family.

Some people said, “Long ago, farming communities needed lots of children, but our culture has changed and it isn’t set up for big families.”

We don’t have a big family because we need more workers, farm hands or dishwashers. It’s just our way of trusting God.

It’s our responsibility as parents to raise them in such a way that they will be a joy to other people, too.  We pray that God will make heart changes, and we will do our part to train and guide them.

We want them to be good citizens, kind neighbors, capable employees, and loving spouses. 


I was ignorant (unaware, lacking knowledge) of the ramifications about being the mother of a large family. Walking in faith can be like taking one step at a time in the dark.

We knew some big families and they seemed to get along, help around the house and work well together. 

But we didn’t see sibling squabbles and crowded closets and extra hotel rooms on vacations and lots of mouths to feed.

Who knew that someday I would:

  • Drive a big, boxy van
  • Awaken at 4:00 a.m. to scrape up some time to myself
  • Adopt maternity clothes as my new fashion style
  • Routinely cook two 9 x 13 pans of food for every meal plus side dishes

I might have balked, not realizing that the benefits would outweigh the struggles, but then I wouldn’t have known I would: 

  • Have the best job in the world
  • Never be lonely or bored
  • Enjoy the satisfaction of investing in living souls

Though it’s wise to plan, prepare and seek good counsel, we are all ignorant of the future. If I’d  let fear or negative comments dampen my faith, I’d have missed out on the joy ahead.


Being unrefined can mean backwards or crude. Other definitions for unrefined include:

  • Unprepared
  • Unpurified
  • Unfinished

The refining process has been one of the best and unexpected parts of motherhood.

Growing up in the suburbs, I was the bossy eldest child. My dad used to fill up my gas tank for me, even after I finished college and had my own full-time job. I seldom helped around the house, never planted a garden and never touched a sewing machine except to make animal pillows in school. I could read for hours in my own room if I liked, go to the mall, or ride my bike to a friend’s house.

God had work to do on me. And, I’m pretty sure it was His plan to use the challenges of motherhood to change, mold, and refine me.

I have told people, I need eleven children more than you do, because God has so much refining to do in my life.  

This is true, and it’s still happening.

Throughout the journey of motherhood, I am continually being challenged, stretched and refined through:

  • Faith-building births (ten of these happened at home)
  • The battle for consistent child-training
  • Making mistakes, repenting and changing
  • Working together with my husband in parenting
  • Counseling teens through their own struggles
  • Knowing when to speak or just listen

We haven’t even ventured into new chapters such as: children getting married, having in-laws, grandchildren and juggling holidays. God has more refining work to do. 

The Motherhood Marathon

It’s easier now that we are beyond the diaper stage and nobody naps anymore (except me).  Friends and acquaintances have mentioned that our children have grown into normal — even outstanding — young adults.

This motherhood thing is a marathon, and each day holds new challenges. Whether you have one precious child or a van-load of blessings, I hope you are finding joy as you press on through the joys and challenges of parenting. 

As mothers, may we:

  • Never tire of walking in faith.
  • Always be crazy about loving our families — even when it’s hard.
  • Face the unknown future with peace in God.
  • Look back someday and see the refining God has done in our lives.

For this tired, ignorant, crazy and unrefined mother, it’s been a good journey so far. 


Lisa Luciano
Lisa Luciano
Lisa is a homeschooling mom, freelance writer and power napper. She and her husband are raising their eleven children in the rural Midwest. When she's not cooking for a crowd, Lisa loves reading, thrift-shopping and walking around her favorite lakes.

4 thoughts on “What People Say When I Tell Them I Have 11 Kids…”

  1. I am the 9th child. 7th consecutive daughter, 3rd youngest and birth date adds up to 7, my birth year adds up to 7. 2 Boys 9 Girls
    My parents like you left #kids born up to God. PTL. Mom was a saint as was Dad. Heard it all like you. When Mom was passing away (The death watch) all 9 Girls camped out 2 – weeks 24/7 next to her bedside. We made sure 1 of us layed in her bed beside Mom till she passed into external life. A) Mom was more calm at ease if 1 of us laid and slept with her. Daytime groups of us 9 Girls prayed and sang hymms + songs or rosary with Mom. We instinctively ensured her passing on moment that 1 of us would be next to her side hugging loving her. 3am 11.16.2016 my turn was next, I patted her toes, checked if covers all good, stroked her face, her hair, gently to stir Mom so Colleen and I could trade places. My Mother opened her eyes smiled at me. Told who I was, told her I loved her so dearly with all my heart. Col chimed in she too loved her to bunches. We me and Col recited a favorite prayer. I said, Mom me &Col are going to a switch out places nx to you. I am going to use Bathroom 1st then be right back…okay Mom and told her Love you. 250am Mom smiled looking at me and Col. She nodded her head yes. We both said all is okay go on close your eyes Mom. You Can go back to Sleep. I left her room to use the bathroom. I heard Colleen continue to keep praying holding Mom’s Hand. I had stepped outside to gaze the stars and prayed to God, through deep tears, I ask him to joyfully embrace Mom’s Soul on her return to Him that we knew He was calling an end to Mom’s journey on earth. I thank him for the gift of my parents he gave to me by birth. That truly when born to Mary and Bill, I had hit the best Lottery Jackpot in Life. God, watch out my Dad may politely butt in front of my Grandparents +++ to be1st in the receiving line to greet Mom, his sweetheart, his Love, his soul mate 64 yrs. They never stopped dating, the 2 maintained an air of deep true love full of faith family and laughter. We never saw them bicker nor berated one another. Rather we saw humor abundant in boat loads and kindness. In conclusion, Colleen, the caboose, her youngest of us 11, the 9th daughter, lay beside Mom when she took her last breath. One arm was stretched across Mom so our Mother could clasp and hold Col’s hand. My Mother told me after Dad died the 2 of them went to sleep 64 yrs holding hands. Nightly the 2 retired to bed & held hands reciting prayers, and never let go. Us 11, she gave life to us, bought all of our 11 souls into the world unwavering in Faith Love and Belief in God. So that plus her and DAD’s Love so strong, you know the term peanut butter & jelly….was my parents. We never heard one curse word uttered by both them…go back to Bringing 11 individual Soul’s into the world and raising us all…We knew the Hand Of God would reach down from the Heavens scoop up all us 11 in one swish with one hand while the other hand of God let loose His Wrath on all 11 kids if we didn’t love and care 4 Mom hands on guiding her to her Life end surrounded in unconditional Love…so that Mom’s dying got carried out how my Dad would have wished to the T. You see DAD’s death, we all went home to bed. He was invincible Dad…he passed on in his sleep, solo, in a hospital bed in the living room. Not one of us 11 stayed by his side that cold January night. He took his last breath alone and gently entered heaven’s gate. We feared the Hand of God and feared Dad would haunt our dreams if Mom’s turn to die wasn’t handled as His own passing away should have been handled. He went 1st, we dropped the ball, not 1 out of us 11 (+Mom 2) watched over him in the night, not 1 of us 11 held his hand praying non-stop to his end. No one was with him as he took his last breath. He was / is greatly loved as much as Mom. Yeah, round two, Mom’s turn, His Sweetheart, she left earth how my Dad would had hoped their 11 children did do. Wow! I am not ever normally able to recount his or her passing away. Something in your bullet point humorous answers hot home. God Bless

    • So glad your memories rose to the surface, and you were able to share this beautiful story with us. I hope that when I go to be with Jesus, I will receive the same love and honor that you gave your Mom. You have a lovely heritage; may the Lord bless you and your family, Nora!


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