|Almost the whole family (missing one!)|
Married to her "Handsome", Jerry, for 51 years, Roberta and Jerry have known each other even longer, being neighbors growing up! So she says they have known each other forever.
Roberta and Jerry have 8 sons and 2 daughters, ranging in ages from 50-27. Grandchildren are 15 in number, with one on the way. Great grandchildren are two in number, with one more on the way! They are a large, blessed family.
My good friend Scarlet, married to one of the Pepin boys, arranged for me to meet Roberta, knowing that she would make for a great 5 Things story!
As I talked with Mom Pepin, I also got input from daughter-in-law Scarlet (who says she is reaping all the benefits from Roberta's parenting.) Therefore I'm mingling in Scarlet's comments also, to add a different angle to this interview.
First, I asked Roberta if she always wanted a large family and her answer surprised me. She did, but apparently at the time, in her area of the country, many people were causing guilt about having large families due to overpopulation fears. She prayed about each child, wanting to know each time that having another was the right thing. The response always seemed to be that children are a blessing, and she says now that they always had enough, even though it was not always clear ahead of time how they would provide for each added blessing.
After becoming pregnant with their 4th child, Roberta said she and her husband became committed followers of Jesus and began to experience more understanding of their relationship with Him. The issue of having a large family and overpopulation guilt was bothering Roberta, so she began to pray about it even more. At a Lutheran service they attended, a Christian man from India spoke. He noted in his speech that Americans spoke against Indians for having too many children, and that peaked her interest. Afterwards, she asked him about this. He shared with her Psalm 127 "Children are a heritage of the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame."
Roberta and her husband were very new to having a close relationship with the Lord and it was hard at times, but they listened to the Lord. Finances were often hard. She says they weren't an ideal situation to have multiple kids. Each time she became pregnant they needed reassurance that it was the right thing.
So the calm outlook that I saw on her face today, I realized was a learned thing over years of seeing answered prayers.
Before meeting with Mom Pepin, I asked my Facebook readers what questions they wanted me to ask a mom of 10 grown children. Two responded, and both asked about worrying. What did she decide to let go of and not worry about? What did she waste time worrying about that she wished she hadn't?
Much to my surprise, one of her favorite lifetime mantras is "Don't worry. It'll all work out". She has seen God come through too many times to think that He won't this time.
Her children are all known for being quality, good, solid people, so before I met her I thought, "This will be like talking to the super source of all parenting! 'How did you do it?! What can we do that you did?!'" (Isn't it funny how our human tendency, though we know is false, is to look for some formulas that will make everything be okay.)
That is not what she had to share. She's a wonderful, peaceful, humble mom. No formulas. Just a handful of great principles.
(Bad news, there's no magical formulas.) (We knew that, but don't we always hope?)
Good news, all she shared about her life is possible for any other person to do, if they so choose.
That's a good thing!
She is a mom who loved, listened to, took care of and prayed for her kids. And exemplified a good life.
In a world of hyper parenting and over parenting, it was refreshing to take a look back just a few years and see how simple her approach really was...and how well it worked.
I asked Roberta to share 5 Things She's Glad She Did raising her children. Though she was reluctant to come up with anything she really did, (true humility), as she talked about those years we managed to identify 5 things together.
1. Raise them to know the Lord, by teaching them and living the example. Once you release them to live their own life, they will have the foundation necessary to be on their own. Life decisions will be made through that filter.
2. Be there for them, an encouraging, listening ear. If you're worried about them, yes it's hard, but still listen and encourage. (Daughter in law Scarlet stepped in here and added that she has noticed that Mom Pepin really shows interest in what interests her kids. She gets into their world, not in a controlling way, but in an interested way.) Roberta said to listen, not in order to press your own plan, but to stay involved. You are the parent. Stay involved by listening.
3. Don't worry. It's relief to know that we don't have to do the fixing. God gives us room and choice in life, we should extend that also. Teach the Word to them, and then they choose. If they do drift, be there still to encourage. We have all drifted off the path from time to time. It's never the end. From years of experience, she says something good is always around the corner. (Isn't that great??!!)
4. You think you love them so much, but God loves them so much more. He will take care of them.
5. Be an example of godly living. (DIL Scarlet jumped in with her observance of this family she married into. Scarlet describes the family closeness as nothing short of just amazing. Favor surrounds them "like surround sound in a movie". They are all honorable and respectful. Among the most godly men Scarlet said she knows. The favor and closeness the family shares is amazing).
Roberta quickly added, "I didn't teach that, it's got to be God. He fills in the gaps for us. I know there's no way it was me."
I had to ask, "Were you hours in prayer? Praying for this great family?" She laughed and said, "No, I was doing laundry." Scarlet said that Roberta oozes peace and that set the tone for the Pepin home, one of peace.
As for not worrying, Roberta said you can't white knuckle life. Let God take over. There were so many kids, they had to get along. They didn't always have a lot of extra finances, but she now sees her kids love to give. God did it all.
She said, "I didn't have time to problem solve everything for them, they had to solve things on their own often. As a mom you feel so responsible, but you cannot do it all."
The three of us noticed how different some parenting is now, thinking that we have to oversee and do everything for or with our kids. Maybe they don't really need all the overboard extra attention and stress some moms put on themselves today. Roberta's kids all grew up able to problem solve and take care of themselves and be responsible. Because she gave them room to learn that growing up.
This interview took me back to the old school parenting that I love- be a good person, take good care of your children, and know that the kids will be ok. If you can't afford something, let your kids see God provide. If they have a problem with friends or school, listen but let them work it out. There is something very freeing about the whole thing. Maybe a reminder we need.
Roberta shared what she sees in today's generation that she appreciates so much. She loves that fathers are more involved and helpful now. She loves hearing wisdom of younger generation too.
So my summary... In this stressful world we live in, maybe it's all easier than we make it. Easier, yet harder. Sometimes it's easier to fill our lives with activity, than it is to be a solid person.
I choose to go after the simplicity of the solid life, doing the right thing and trusting God to be God.
It'll all work out.