The Irizar family, minus one. 

“I hate being a mother. If you don’t have kids, think long and hard before you do. Those TV commercials are lying to you. It is not a fairy tale. My kids are of toddler and preschool age. They fight, scream and demand all the time. I am so unhappy. No one tells you how awful it is to be a mother. No one! Yes there are little sweet things that happen from time to time but overall it’s terrible. I am so exhausted that I can’t sleep at night. My nerves are shot from the kids constant yelling, fighting, and having to explain, soothe, or whatever 24/7. I am tired! The amount of work that it takes to be a Mom and a housewife is inhuman.” ~ quoted in Intentious  

Is being a mother that bad? Is having kids the worst thing that could ever happen? Enslaving women to children, robbing us of our freedom? No! Being a mother is one of the best things that could ever happen to a woman.

My mother Lupita is a beautiful, intelligent, charming woman, who has had eleven boys and five girls. They range from 28 to 8. She has never had a moment’s regret. Perhaps, as her daughter I am biased, but I believe that each birth has enriched my mother, making her even more attractive and allowing her heart to expand and reach each of her children in a special motherly manner. My mother is now past child-bearing age, but if she could she would have more. Adoption has crossed her mind, and my father’s mind, more than once.

There are some women out there who don’t have children because they think that having children will make them uglier. My mother is living proof that this is not the case. Just a year ago, when my grade 12 English teacher met my mother she was deeply impressed. There was even a hint of a tear. Afterwards she admitted to me: “I imagined your mother to be, well, ugly. And fat”. More than once, due to her youthful, charming, looks, people have taken her for my older sister.

There is plenty of constant hard work, but my mother has never considered herself a slave. Rather she is a living holocaust of love for her family. My mother is no superwoman and there days when she is exhausted and has not had one single moment for herself. Yet there is always a smile on her face.

We are originally from Mexico City. In 1999 we emigrated to immigrated to Canada. It was a heroic decision for my parents, Lupita and Juan. They didn’t know whether we would find a home or jobs or whether we could become citizens. But they still brought 13 children to an unknown country. Now my father is the owner of Irizar Heavy Industry, in Edmonton, which has more than 8,000 projects operating in more than 50 countries.

My mother trained as a chemical engineer and was offered several good jobs right after graduating. But she refused them all, because she wanted to give herself completely to her children and her husband. However her chemical engineering degree has been useful in helping her to organize the house.

Nothing makes my mother happier than waking up in the middle of the night to change a dirty diaper or to smile when she is tired so as to make a loving, warm family atmosphere.

It is not true that kids in big families do not get enough attention. Personally, my mother spoiled me and I received more attention and care than I needed as a child. Every day after coming home from school I would help my mother in kitchen. I had her all to myself and shared with her any worries or excitement. It was the same with my siblings. We have never felt deprived of attention or affection since somehow she manages to be there for us whenever we need her. Why is this? Well, simply because she does it out love, love for her children and her husband.

My mother has never sought compensations for her hard work, yet she has been rewarded by watching her children grow up and go their own ways. She always encouraged us to pursue a post-secondary education. At the moment six of my siblings have undergraduate degrees in biomedical engineering, food science, civil engineering, theology, and economics. One of my brothers is currently studying law, another works as a mechanical engineer, and another is a businessman. One is thinking of becoming a police officer. The rest of us are in elementary school, junior high school, or high school.

It is through family life and the warm loving atmosphere in which we have been brought up and raised where we have learned to become upright individuals, with integrity and a spirit of service toward others, like our parents. My brother, Father Miguel Irizar, described how he discovered his vocation to Salt and Light TV:

“My own vocational story began in my family, I believe that God used my family to call me to the priest hood, I come from a fairly large family, I was constantly helping my younger siblings taking care of them, helping them with their homework, with little things, I quickly realized how beautiful it is to give oneself to the service of others; so when I finished high school I decided to enter the seminary.”

What about me? I am Number Ten. Moving out of home to pursue post-secondary studies has opened up new horizons. I have come to value and appreciate my family much more. My fellow students are often surprised when I tell them about my family. Some are delighted, but others are sceptical. More than once have I been asked whether I will also have a large family. I always tell them that if I ever get married, for sure I would love to have a large family.

A common question is whether I moved out because I wanted some privacy? No, I didn’t. I moved out for my education, not to escape my family. As a matter of fact, having a room all to myself was and is one of the things I dislike most about living in a student residence. I’m used to having people around all the time, sharing my belongings, being awakened in the middle of the night…

Being a mother is such a wonderful thing. I only wish that all women realized the treasure that they have. What a pity that some think it is “awful”. 

Maria Irizar is studying science at the University of Calgary, in Alberta.