SHERIDAN, Ore. — Bobbie Jager wanted to have 14 children ever since she was a little girl. Her husband, Mike, says that if you count him, she's made it.
Jager, of Sheridan, who was named the Oregon Mother of the Year last February, has 13 children from ages 10 to 33.
Her parents weren’t able to have children, and she was adopted along with her brother. Describing her family situation growing up as "boring" at times, Jager always wanted to be around people — baby-sitting big families when possible and hoping to someday have children of her own.
Now she certainly does, and it's apparent to everyone around her that she loves it.
“She can handle being a mom of 13 people because that’s what she really wants to be and she loves it,” said Johnna Brown, Jager’s third child and oldest daughter. “When kids are out of school for a couple of days I hear a lot of moms say, ‘I can’t wait until they go back to school.’ My mom never did that. She was excited for us to be home. She doesn’t complain about being a mom.”
Brown is currently a mother herself of a 17-month-old daughter. She said she learned everything she knows from her mother and is now more amazed than ever at all that she does.
“I don’t know a lot of people who don’t have 13 kids who have the energy level she has,” said Robert, the fifth Jager child. “She has such a good relationship with all of her kids. She is able to relate to each of us, and we are each able to have a unique relationship with mom. She is able to meet 13 peoples’ different needs.”
Jager home-schooled all 13 of her children up until high school. She makes her own bread and loves to cook healthy meals for her family. The family starts every day with a devotional and family prayer. They even have a motto and T-shirts, proclaiming the importance of Jesus, justice, joy, zeal and a zest for living. Jager said she knows these kinds of traditions are important for her children to have something to belong to.
Parenting has its challenges, Jager said, but she would encourage parents to never give up trying to help their children do what is right.
“I think we just have to hang on,” she said. “They take (our counsel) and internalize it and it comes back. Even if it doesn’t initially, it does. We don’t have to doubt what we expect and know.”
According to her local newspaper, The Sun, Jager was named Mother of the Year by the Oregon Association of American Mothers on Feb. 17. The following week she was asked to speak before the Oregon House of Representatives.
Earlier this month, Jager attended the American Mothers convention in Washington, D.C., as one of 21 nominees for the national title. There, she had the opportunity to meet national congressional leaders, tour the nation's capital, listen to a panel discussion on preventing violence against women and give a speech along with the other nominees.
Jager said she nearly passed out when she found out she was chosen as the Oregon Mother of the Year. Her husband, Mike, she was well-prepared since Day 1.
“I was told by everyone that I would have this period of growing with my wife,” Mike said. “It never happened. Everything started out perfect.”
Jager and her family are all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but Mike wasn’t a Mormon when they got married. He agreed to let Jager raise the children in the LDS Church but told her he wouldn’t go to church unless one of the their children asked him why he wasn’t going.
Then, one Sunday, Jager whispered into the ear of their 4-year-old son to ask his father why he wasn't coming to church with them, and Mike started to attend.
Mike went to church for several years, then one day came home talking about his reaction to a lesson that day. His wife immediately went to the phone and started making calls announcing his baptismal date.
“She said, ‘You told me as soon as you had a testimony you would be baptized,’” Mike said. “’You have a testimony. You have to get baptized.’”
Mike said he feels bad for men who don’t have wife like he has.
“I’m probably not the best catch in the river, but she was definitely the best catch,” he said. “She does everything and she does it well and she doesn’t complain and she works hard and she just makes it look easy.”
It’s not easy, Mike admits — he knows it’s total effort to do what his wife does — but he knows how hard she tries and how much she loves her children.
Jager said she had a close friend who died on Mother’s Day who she considered a true mom. She has encouraged all mothers to learn from that woman’s example.
“I want to excite all moms who love to be moms,” she said. “Just enjoy every day, because none of us know when it will be our last.”
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