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Today we are privileged to have Johannah Banham stop by for a visit with us. Johannah and I are the same age and have children the exact same age span (seven to twenty-seven) but Johannah managed to have twelve during the time I had my eight!

I met Johannah through our local homeschooling support group where she and her husband, Steve, have spent countless hours serving on the board of the organization and encouraging many home educating families.

Since we both had six year old boys last year, we ended up in Tiger Cubs together. I’m telling you, it did my heart good to look over at Johannah and know that another mom there was not in a hurry to get down on the floor for circle time! We were definitely the “older” moms there. I had so much fun with you Johannah!

Ladies, please pour yourself a cup of tea or your favorite refreshment of choice and sit down and visit with us!

Johannah, tell us about your family.

Steve and I have been married for thirty-two years and have twelve kids, aged 7-27; six boys, six girls. The older seven have all gone on to college. Currently two are Marine Corps officers, two are in graduate school, and three are currently at the University of Washington. The younger five are still at home, homeschooling. This is a very number-based, statistical introduction!

How equipped were you as a young mother? Did you feel prepared to have a large family or to homeschool?

I had not done much babysitting and wasn’t particularly interested in babies. We waited four years to have children and began a family mostly because it seemed the next thing to do. We were so surprised by parenthood—it’s wonderful!

We had planned to have four children, but decided after the first to simply accept whoever the Lord chose to send into our family. We named our fifth “Faith” since she was the child we wouldn’t have had if we had followed our own plan. I recently learned that Faith hadn’t heard the story of her name. She was so pleased by it! Oh dear, what else have we forgotten to tell them?

We first heard of homeschooling while expecting our first (which were twins) while visiting Steve’s Uncle and Aunt who were early homeschoolers in California. We were enthusiastic from the start. I love to read, so by the time the twins were old enough for a first day of school, I was over-prepared and raring to go.

Do you have a favorite recipe or household tip to share with GW readers?

My favorite chore tip is to give each child a chore to do before and after every meal (some will be meal-oriented like setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher), but others can be picking up the living room, cleaning a sink, etc. Ten minutes before and after each meal is an hour a day of housework each. Those man-hours really add up!

Looking back at your younger self what advice or encouragement would you give her?

Younger self, you may think you know what would make a good life, but God has an even bigger, better plan. Don’t worry about mistakes: Nothing is ever wasted. Everything will come together to become an amazing life, and even the hard parts will have been important to its making.

What do you want to tell other Christian women about building a strong marriage or striving to be a good wife?

Don’t argue when you are tired. Every problem is magnified out of proportion when you are exhausted. Of course, you don’t believe this when you are in a toxic, angry, tired state; so I learned to tell myself that the impending argument was so very important that I ought to wait until morning when I would be fully alert to engage in it at my fighting best.

I nearly always wake up the next morning to find that whatever was so infuriating the night before really isn’t such a big deal after all—in fact, not even worth bringing up! I don’t know how this fits with not letting the sun go down on one’s anger, but it has saved me countless conflicts over the years.

What do you look forward to as an “older” woman?

I guess I’m there at 51 (don’t you love reading Jane Austen and noticing that her “old” female characters are all of 38?). Even now, with five kids at home (nine for the summer), being older is restful compared to the early years; less driven by what must be done, more motivated by what one feels led to do. Finances are less of a strain.
I don’t think the free time would be as treasured if there hadn’t been 27 years of grindingly hard work preceding it, just as the ease in financial pressure is appreciated all the more by those who have known what it is to have the wolf at the door now and then. Not that there has ever really been a wolf at our door.

What one piece of wisdom helped you during the years that you had a lot of young ones? A favorite Bible verse or saying?

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” ~Galatians 6:9

Thanks for your blog and for generously sharing with us all, Jill!

Thank you Johannah! I have been so blessed by your friendship!

Johannah Banham writes, reads, serves the homeschooling community and raises really smart children in Washington state.