Like many mother’s it’s expected that Donis Tracy will be served breakfast in bed, but it’s also expected that her 10 children will help her eat it, too.
“They will leave me in bed, then eat my breakfast, make all kinds of cards, messages and plants,” Donis said, adding that son Mark will make a mathematical graph for the meaning of Mother’s Day.
Tracy and her husband Gregory, married for 26 years, are the proud parents of 10 – six boys and four girls, ranging in age from seven to 25. If you go by Cora Street in Winthrop you can often find several of them playing basketball in the driveway.
When Donis isn’t with her family, she’s working at the Immaculate Conception School in Revere as the administration director, middle school religion teacher and music teacher for preschool and pre-K music. She’s also been the confirmation director for the last eight years. Her husband Gregory is the managing editor of The Pilot, the Boston Archdiocese newspaper.
“She puts out so much for us and balances it all. She’s my best friend,” said daughter Julia, number four in line. “I could never do what she does. But this is what we are used to.”
Julia is a co-op student at Northeastern, working as a nursing student whose job is now testing the hearing of babies. The number one child in the family is Carmen, soon to graduate from Georgetown Law School; then David, a graduate of Emmanuel College who is a chemist for a pharmaceutical company; then Mark, ready to graduate from Harvard with a degree in physics; then Julia; then Stephen, who will attend Brandeis as a marketing and psychology major; Maria, a Winthrop High School sophomore; Daniel, a Winthrop Middle School eighth-grader; John, a sixth grader at WMS; Michael, a third grader at the Cummings School; and Sarah, a second grader at the Fort Banks School. Most of the birthdays fall in either June, July, August and September.
David, the second oldest was actually so sick of having cake that they made a birthday-style stack of nachos.
In the past the children have made a big deal about events in their family, including Donis’ and Gregory’s 25th wedding anniversary and a trip to Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
“We still have date nights to Old Orchard Beach,” Donis said.
They met in college, bumped into each other a few times and eventually married at Our Lady of Assumption in East Boston. Sure, they talked about having children. Donis, even though she was an only child, had done a lot of babysitting and working in daycares. Gregory has two siblings. She admits there was a little shock at first, but in the end there has been nothing but happiness.
“We’ve gotten though everything based on faith,” Donis said, especially a miscarriage of twins. “We’ll get to know them on the other side.”
As far as running a household, everyone pitches in from cleaning to cooking on a daily basis. They spend anywhere from $275-$300 a week on groceries alone.
“At the end of the day we all have chores,” Julia said.
As for discipline, Donis said it has come down to some basic understandings – like you don’t stay out at all hours. She admits the world can be scary at times, but she trusts her children.
“They know and enforce the rules,” Donis said, adding that again it is faith that guides the way.
There’s even a saying in the house to “rely on other people and ask Julia for advice.”
“There’s a fine line between being too much of a friend and protector. There’s no magic equation,” Donis said. “I don’t have favorites and they seem to be magically gifted musically, in soccer, theater and other areas.”