Mother’s Day times 7
At first glance, the table might seem more suitable if it was in a group home or employee cafeteria.
The handcrafted, 11-foot-long maple table, which includes two full-length maple-finished benches, is not an accoutrement in the Grass Valley Group’s dining room, nor is it a fixture at Ananda’s communal retreat.
It’s in Carolyn Hoer’s dining room, where her family ends a hectic day with a few words of prayer and a meal, where her brood of seven children swap stories over one of three family-owned cell phones.
And it is where, come Sunday, all nine members will gather and celebrate another Mother’s Day.
“Mom” is a badge Carolyn Hoer, 40, wears proudly. “It’s a viable career option,” she remarked on a recent weekday afternoon. Mother’s Day, she said, “is a day to celebrate moms…but without my husband and my kids, I wouldn’t be a mom,” said Hoer (pronounced HER), “so it’s a day I like to let them know how grateful I am for being a mom, because I love being a mom.”
And it’s a full-time job raising seven: Brandilyn, 18, a senior at Bear River High School; Taraleigh, 16, a sophomore at Bear River; Leshelle, 14, an eighth-grader at Magnolia Intermediate School; Rashauna, 12, a sixth-grader at Magnolia; Monica, 9, a third-grader at Cottage Hill School; Kaniesha, 6, a kindergartner at Cottage Hill; and Seth, 4, “home with Mom,” Hoer said.
Her husband, Stan, 41, is a general contractor and wood-shop teacher at Nevada Union High School.
Predictably, finding a quiet moment to brush your teeth or finish homework might seem difficult in this household, even one with eight bedrooms and six bathrooms on three stories in a home on five acres behind Bear River High.
But as Carolyn Hoer will tell you, it can be done.
“You know, the size of the house is nothing to brag about when you have to clean it,” Carolyn Hoer joked.
And though she’s probably a bit more conventional in her child-rearing practices and manner of delegating responsibility, Hoer is more Sharon Osbourne than June Cleaver.
Her children are independent enough, Hoer says, that they have their own pursuits and dreams, yet grounded by their faith as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On this particular day, about half the children leave to go to a softball game, while Hoer stays with the three youngest.
Her children will tell you growing up in a large family can be a wonderful and sometimes taxing experience.
“We barely get to have dinner when it’s all of us together anymore,” Taraleigh said.
The family spends $1,000 a month on food alone.
“During the day, I sometimes have to go outside and down the hill just to get a quiet moment,” Leshelle said. “Out of the five years I’ve been here, I’ve been home alone once.”
“We’re really just like friends that hang out together,” Taraleigh added.
Indeed, going out as a family means piling into one of two Chevrolet Suburbans the family owns, and finding a time when softball, volleyball or basketball practice and extra-curricular activities will allow.
“Our parents do a really good job of listening to us,” Taraleigh added.
The three oldest children visited Tahiti with Carolyn and Stan last summer, and the oldest five visited Ireland for a relative’s wedding. This year, for the first time, all nine are heading to Disneyland.
Carolyn Hoer always knew she’d be a mother – just never to this many children. The oldest of three, Carolyn Hoer said her job isn’t difficult, except perhaps the time five years ago when the family lived in a nearby barn and trailer as their home was being gutted and rebuilt.
“I wouldn’t be completely honest if I said it wasn’t a difficult job and had its challenges – but we focus on those positive things most,” said Hoer, who while being a stay-at-home mom finds time to paint and graduates May 23 from Sierra College. She’ll get an associate’s degree in liberal arts after going to night school for 12 years.
“It’s been my goal to get my college degree before my oldest gets her high school degree, and I’ll beat her by two weeks.”
She credits her husband for letting her pursue dreams.
“Part of my fulfillment as a mother is that he’s always encouraged me to do what I want to do and be who I want to be.” said Hoer, who married her husband 19 1/2 years ago.
“He does a great job of making me feel appreciated, and without that I don’t think the career I’ve chosen would be as fulfilling.”
That her oldest, Brandilyn, will graduate and attend San Diego State University in the fall is her family’s greatest challenge.
“It’s not hard seeing her grow up to be independent. It’s just hard knowing we won’t all be together. That’s one of the consequences of being a close, tight-knit family,” Hoer said.
“It’s going to be sad,” Brandilyn Hoer said of her imminent departure. “It’s going to be so quiet all the time.”
If not for his wife, Stan Hoer said, the family doesn’t succeed.
“She’s an extremely talented lady,” he said. “She has common sense, and she’s always been extremely supportive to me. We got married with nothing, and we struggled together, and we are who we are because of each other. Not too many women would live in a barn without much heat and stick with it,” said Stan Hoer, who admitted Mother’s Day will be a low-key affair.
“I’m serious when I say I’m glad my kids take after my wife.”
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