Below I’ll be examining the Lewis from the TV Show 16kidsandcounting Shown on Channel 4 March 2013 9pm, all quotes mentioned below are as mentioned in the series on Channel 4 should you wish to watch this yourself. All non specific opinions given are my own.
One in One out
Tracy (48) and Peter Lewis, a mechanic, from Bournemouth with their 12 daughters (Carly 29, Tracy, Samantha, Lyndsay, Danielle (22), Chantelle (20), Charlotte (19), Georgia, Candice, Shannon, Shaznay (11) and Porsha 9) and one son Charles (25).
“We put out whole life on hold for our kids.” “They will all leave you one day.” “It is hard to accept your role is changing.” “I feel lost, a part of you something has gone.”
I think these quotes sum up the episode. Tracy Lewis has made her children her whole life, and now that they are leaving her she needs to rethink about who she is, and what her role is in life. She wants to hold onto what she knows best for as long as she can. Tracy doesn’t wish to think about what happens when her children are all gone: She doesn’t know what to do when it’s all she has ever known.
With only 9 kids still living at home Tracy and Pete cook a Sunday roast every week for all the kids to come round for. They cook plenty of food, including two whole chickens, not knowing which of the children will turn up. They are all sat in the same room, but not at the same table. There is plenty of laughter – and the filming also showed plenty of waste food.
Tracy says that the “Family getting smaller is strange.” She is about to lose her only son twenty-five year old Charles because he is moving into a flat, 15 minutes down the road, with his pregnant girlfriend Maddie. “Hes mum would have had him there until he was in his 40s,” Maddie says, “shes sad isn’t she” (at Charles’ moving out). All his sisters indulge him – washing, ironing, doing him some lunch. Charles says, “They are more than willing to help out.” Maddie tells us, “He’s like royalty at his mum’s house.”
Tracy very involved in all their lives, “but Charles wouldn’t want it any other way,” says Maddie. We even see Tracy at the 12 week scan with them both.
It’s nice to see Tracy sorting through Charles’ things and coming across his beaver and cubs tops, because it shows that even as a large family he did not have to miss out on extracurricular activities.
Charles is the 2nd child that Tracy has had to say goodbye to this year. When he has moved out Tracy explains, “I won’t let anyone in here for a few days; it’s still got Charles smell in here:” Despite the fact that Shaznay (11) and Porsha (9) are still sleeping in their parent’s bedroom. When an interviewer asks Pete how they managed to have more children (with children sharing their bedroom), he says, “We are not even going to go there.” They do move into Charles’ old room though. Tracy and Pete are not having any more children so there will be “no new opportunities to keep the kids close at night.”
Tracy still has 8 girls still living at home, and four of them are over 18 years old. To ensure they stay home she treats them – providing snacks for them for their night out and chauffeuring them around. This is despite the fact that Tracy was up at 5:30am to start work at a local garage (and it’s now after 10pm). We see that the girls stick together – making it safer in numbers. And then Tracy joins them for a drink, despite the fact that she promised Pete she will be back home, and that she claims to never have any time for herself. She then drives home before turning around two hours later to pick up two of the five girls. The “older ones are reluctant to move out because we make such a fuss of them”, says Pete.
Tracy’s birthday is also the Lewis’ 29th wedding anniversary, although Pete accidentally says 25th. He says either way it’s been a long time. They are going out for a celebratory meal; Charlotte, 19, “They don’t go out a lot because they always put us first.” Once a year they get to go out because “we have so much commitment to our children,” Tracy tells us. So much so that Pete has to do the girls food first, but Tracy is off being pampered to get ready – trusting Georgia to do her hair. “We still don’t get much time to ourselves, it escapes us because the demands of large family don’t go away” adds Pete. Even whilst out Chantelle was meant to be picking up Porcha from a school concert, but she could not find her way in and Tracy had to ring and sort things over the phone.
But the kids are providing a new generation to cling to, with not only Charles expecting a baby but so is Chantelle (20). She is expecting a girl. She tells us that being pregnant bonds her with her mum in a special way. That having her mum is like having your own midwife on call.