photo from TLC
Michelle Duggar is perhaps best known for her role in TLC's 18 Kids and Counting (formerly 17 Kids and Counting). If you're a fan of the show, you know it's not a role she's playing, it's real life. Michelle, 42, is mom to 18 children, eight girls and 10 boys, ranging in age from 21 years to 5 months, all with names beginning with the letter J.
Having a baby is hard enough, but Michelle manages to care for her littlest one, plus 17 others, which is no easy feat. But I guess she's had lots of practice, and lots of help from the older kids. If you're looking for tips and ideas on raising your baby, Michelle and her husband share their parenting wisdom in their new book The Duggars: 20 and Counting!
But while Michelle may be the star of a popular reality T.V. show and author of a book, one soon learns from talking to her that she thinks her most important job is that of mom. Here's what she had to say.
What is the most important lesson that being a mother has taught you?
I can't do it all! I thought I was Supermom starting out, and realized seven kids into it, that was not the case. I was not a super mom and I needed God's grace to help me with my children every day. He's been faithful to show me what each child needs every moment of the day.
How has the state of the world today affected your view of motherhood?
I look at things through the grid of God's word. His word has never changed, the world changes around it. The Bible is my owner's manual for life. My son and I talked the other day about war.
I don't like war, but scripture talks about war and the obvious things that take place. I don't delight in thinking that one of my children would have to give his life, but there are times and places that kind of thing happens.
So I told him if someone kills your family and destroys your home, you would have to guard and protect and take care of the things God’s entrusted to you, and family is that. So I asked him if he would be willing to die to protect his family? And he said, "Yes I would!"
What's the best part of being a mom?
I was sitting with my 5-year-old practicing spelling words. Something spurred a thought in his mind and he said to me, "Momma, I was not nice to this little fella," and he went on to tell me how he had been selfish and what he did. He said he felt bad.
I said, "Justin, that poor little fella. He is your friend and he really loves you." I encouraged him to pray and ask God to forgive him for being selfish. Then he apologized to his friend. Those are the mothering moments that I cherish. I can tell them how to act, but when it goes from their head to their heart and really sinks in—my job is done. Those are the priceless moments we look and wait for.
What's the most important parenting lesson you learned from your own mother?
She made a happy home—she made birthdays a special time, she planned special vacation trips. We were a family of seven—six girls and one boy. She carried a lot of that load and she was exhausted, but she always made things fun. I look back and see the sacrifices my mother made for good memories, and I'm willing to do that for my own kids so they can have those same fond memories.
How do you plan to spend Mother's Day this year?
I don't know! In years past, when my kids were young, they gave me special handmade cards. Dad would encourage those and they were precious. I keep them in a keepsake box. We couldn't always do something for Mother's Day. Going out to eat would be impossible.
Now my children will cook for me on Mother's Day—chicken dumplings or lasagna, it varies. One year, they all went together and bought the bible on CD so I could listen to it—it's so peaceful.
What is your greatest wish for your children?
I can definitely quote 3 John 1:4: "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." You only get so much time to mold little lives, then it's hands off—the clay begins to harden and they will form their own opinions and make their own decisions. I pray the impact I've had will come through later.
*The children's names are Joshua, 21; Jana and John-David (twins), 19; Jill, 17; Jessa, 16; Jinger, 15; Joseph, 14; Josiah, 12; Joy-Anna, 11; Jedidiah and Jeremiah (twins), 10; Jason, 9; James, 8; Justin, 6; Jackson, 4; Johannah, 3; Jennifer, 21 months; and Jordyn-Grace, 5 months.
Michelle Duggar feels you only have a little while to try to shape your little one's values. What values do you hope that you will instill in your child?
See how other celebrity moms answered these questions about motherhood: