Is Mother’s Day overrated? Mom with 20 kids thinks so

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SOUTH JORDAN — Deanne Walker starts her day early baking five loaves of bread — a daily ritual that helps feed her large family. By the end of the day her family will have easily eaten all five loaves.

She said as long as she could remember she always wanted to be a mother.

“As a little girl I wanted a big family. That was my dream, to be a mom," she said.

She originally thought she wanted 10 children, but now her family has grown to 20 and she still wants more.

“I think we're very close to the end, but I do sense we have at least one more,” she said.

Cooking, cleaning and cuddling her children come easy for Walker; she loves being a mom.

“I don't know anything I’d be as happy doing. Giving and sacrificing and living to be a blessing and a part of children's lives really gives me the greatest motivation and the greatest joy,” she said.

She and her husband Doug are the biological parents to nine children and they’ve adopted 11 others both locally and internationally. Some of the children have special needs. The Walkers are not strangers to heartache; two of their young children have passed away. The oldest four are now grown and starting families of their own.

Walker said, “If a child doesn’t have a mother, it really breaks my heart. It’s just something natural and innate within me.”

I don't know anything I'd be as happy doing. Giving and sacrificing and living to be a blessing and a part of children's lives really gives me the greatest motivation and the greatest joy.

–Deanne Walker

Running a household with this many people requires a lot of organization and planning and Walker keeps everyone busy.

“The kids have chores. I can't function very well in a home that is chaotic and that means even physically chaotic. I don’t do well if the house is a mess.”

Most of the kids are required to do their own laundry, but Walker said she has to do an additional four to five loads a day to keep up. She takes it all in stride and even enjoys the task.

“I love doing laundry with the kids because it's just usually fun and games, and lots of noise and laughter,” she said.

And mealtimes are no small endeavor. They spend an average of $500 a week on groceries. For breakfast she makes more than 14 cups of oatmeal, or scrambles more than three dozen eggs a day. If the children want cereal, they can easily go through an entire super-size bag in one sitting.

She said, “I can't even imagine how many carts I’d have to use to feed my family for a week from the grocery store; even with the Costco carts I have to bring a child with me most of the time to help me get my whole list. There is not a car that we own that allows me to bring more than one child with me at a time to the store; otherwise I can’t fit my groceries in to get them home.”

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If you ask her how she feels about Mother’s Day she’ll tell you it’s overrated.

“If my kids are behaving well all the time, then it is always Mother’s Day, right?” She continued, “Really, if a child is behaving and loving and kind and helpful, well, that's what it’s all about anyway. I don't need a special day to tell me if I’m a good mom. I base it on whether I’m training my kids well and if they are being kind to each other every day.”

She used to let guilt get to her on Mother’s Day, but as her family has grown she sees things differently.

“I used to have guilt on Mother’s Day, especially when people would talk about how great their mothers were and all the wonderful things they did, and how perfect they seemed to be. I was nowhere near where they all were. Then I began to realize I didn't have to be that perfect person, I just had to be the best me and give all of me that I could; and the guilt just washed away.”

When it comes to staying sane with a house full of kids, she said, “It comes down to my faith in God. He has asked me to do what I do and he will give me the strength to do everything I need to do to accomplish his work.”

Contributing: Nadine Wimmer Angie Denison is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is an executive producer over Special Projects at KSL TV. Contact her at


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