12 Is Enough

The Babbs have 12 children.

Yes, an even dozen, a full
house, a good mix, a large brood, a small herd.

The Babb FamilyThey are your typical American
working family…with 12 kids. “We’ve answered all the typical questions people
always ask,” said father Brian Babb. “We never planned to have 12 children, and
we never looked at it as a burden. Our children were gifts, and it’s just fun
to have a full house. People always assume you’re a kook or something when you
say you have 12 kids.”

For all intents and purposes,
the only reason people make a big fuss over the Babbs—besides their welcoming
attitudes and friendly natures—is the fact that their family is so large. In
this day and age when having four kids is considered brave, most people can’t imagine
having such a full house. “People always tells us, ‘Oh, I’d have another but I
don’t have the time,’ or, ‘We’re waiting until we can afford to have a baby,’”
Brian said. “If you keep waiting for the right time, you’ll never do it. It’s
the same with kids. It always works out.”

For Laura and Brian Babb and
their family, a full house means more fun, more family and more festivities.
They can’t see why anyone makes such a big deal of it. But, with 12 kids comes
a certain amount of challenge, like the logistics of getting everyone to
various sports practices and doing laundry. December is a rough month, hosting
five birthdays and Christmas to boot, but it’s all in a day in the life of the
Babbs.

“When we go to school, everyone asks, ‘Oh, are
you a Babb?’” said Anna Laura, one of the younger sisters. “People know who you
are.”

The Babbs are, of course, Mom
and Dad but also, from oldest to youngest: Andrew, Peter, Leah, Philip, Hannah,
Rebekah, Mary Kathryn, John, Sam, Anna Laura, Ben and Abby.

Welcome to the family.

A Full House

Laura and Brian met while they
attended college together in Dallas, but after the oil bust in the 1980s, Brian
didn’t complete his final year in college, studying to become a petroleum
engineer, and instead went to work for his father. Soon after college, Laura
and Brian married and had their first two boys, Andrew and Peter. “Then we
started seeing articles about how petroleum engineers were needed, so we
decided it would be good for Brian to go back and finish school,” said Laura. Brian
graduated and began working with major oil companies in Midland, Texas. After
12 years and 11 kids, they moved to Oklahoma in 2002. Abby was the last to join
the Babb brood.

“We’ve been raising kids for 27
years, so it’s nothing out of the ordinary for us,” said Laura. “But, I did
realize even back then that large families were not the trend. But, both Brian
and I came from large families. I had five siblings and he had six, so that’s
what we were used to.” Although the Babbs never set out to have 12 children,
they didn’t fight against it either. “We didn’t do it for religious reasons,
but we were open to God’s plan,” said Laura. “He had a plan, and we let it
happen.”

Sibling Simplicity

For such a large family, the
siblings all seem to get along. Andrew, Leah and Hannah are out of the home
already and Rebekah started college this past fall. The five-bedroom house in
Edmond includes a bedroom for Mom and Dad, a bedroom for the girls, a bedroom
for the boys, a spare single room for the oldest child and a playroom.

“You always have people to look
out for you,” said the youngest, Abby. “When there are 11 other brothers and
sisters, you’re never lonely. There’s always someone to play with.” Sure,
brothers and sisters bicker. Sometimes they even fight. But if one of the kids
is gone overnight, the others miss him or her. They like to share rooms. Ben, a
spunky little dark-haired lover of lizards, likes to see his sisters squeal
when he brings out his pet bearded dragons.

“They all get along for the most
part,” said Brian.

Even the logistics of raising
such a big family isn’t as difficult as one might imagine. While the Babbs do
not go nuts on planning where every cent goes, they aren’t spending
irresponsibly either. Because the children are involved in various activities,
planning and organizing how to get the kids to their practices and appointments
can be a little tricky, though the older siblings help out with driving too.

“Laundry doesn’t even overwhelm
me,” said Laura. “I have a system. Everything is hung up, except sock and
underclothes. Everyone has a spot on the rod in the laundry room and everyone
has their own laundry basket. It’s their responsibility to come get their own
clean clothes, though a few do use their laundry room as a closet.”

While some larger families draw
names for Christmas, the Babbs choose to buy presents for each child and let
each child buy gifts as they see fit. The family focuses more on celebrating
individual birthdays instead.

“Because of the size of the
group, it’s a lot more fun. The house is never empty,” said Brian. “You have
more fun with more people. We never have had horrendous times with logistics,
and, now that some of the kids are older, we have some time for just the two of
us too.”

Raising each child—especially
through the tough teenager years—becomes less complicated with each child.
“Once you’ve been through it three to four times, it gets easier,” said Laura.
“You know what to expect and you feel much less worried when they reach an age
where they start to withdraw or want their independence. You know it’s going to
be painful—painful for them, for you. They have to figure it out. But then one
day you turn around and you see your child and think, ‘Wow. He’s an adult. He’s
making adult decisions,’” she said. “We are very proud of our children.”

TreeAbby, however, is the last child, and is eight
years old. The Babb household will be strangely silent when Abby moves out… but
maybe not so much. Already, the older ones are getting married and starting
families of their own. “It won’t be an empty nest,” said Brian. “We’ll have the
grandkids then.”

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