We sit on the bench outside our workplace, sipping coffee and munching doughnuts. We come from two worlds. I am mildly traditional; Esti is Torah-observant. Stylishly dressed, she sports a shoulder-length brunette wig, makeup that looks perfect and an inner radiance that glows. She is the mother of eight children ranging from age 2 to 10, including two sets of twins.

“Esti,” I ask, feeling very passionate about my pet topic. “How do you manage such a large family? And why do you do it? Or as the world would say: What is your vision?”

“My vision?” she answers. “I am a Judaica artist. I was given eight packages of raw material—not metal, canvas or clay—human material. And I have the honor to design and form them into learned, G‑d-fearing Jews, beloved in the eyes of man and heaven, individuals who will make a contribution to their family and community!” With a twinkle in her eyes, she adds: “Sotheby’s recently sold a small statue for $100 million. How much would they give for my artistic creation?”

I continue to probe. “But don’t you feel burned out and deprived? Aren’t you neglecting your personal development?”

“Neglecting?” Esti laughs out loud. “Motherhood is the greatest challenge to my personal development. I was a spoiled, indulged child when I got married. Over the years, I’ve learned to be giving and compassionate, patient and diplomatic. I never even knew I had these qualities. I didn’t think that they were so important. My family enriched my life.

“I’ll be honest. Of course, sometimes I would like to read a book, attend a concert or drink coffee with friends. But I don’t deny myself personal pleasures. Sometimes, there is time, and sometimes, I say to myself, not now. My mother always told me that nothing worthwhile is achieved without hard work. Do medical or law students feel deprived because they study all day?

“Raising children demands energy and can sometimes be quite draining. Part of the challenge is realizing that I am not perfect. I make mistakes. But afterwards, I pick myself up and continue. Somehow, it seems to work out. I have eight beautiful shining lights that are as precious as they are beautiful.”

I ask Esti whether the children don’t lose out when they have so many brothers and sisters. “How can you possibly divide your love?” I ask incredulously.

Esti corrects me. “Divide? With each child, love multiplies, not divides,” she firmly declares.

“True, we are a little cramped at home, but there is a beautiful flip side to it. In a large family, children have the unique opportunity to learn to share, and to be considerate and caring. Of course, my kids are normal. They fight and argue and have tantrums. But growing up in a large family is giving them tools for life,” she says.

“My husband and I have one mindset on this. We both lead busy lives, but our children are our priority. We believe that when children genuinely come first, you will always be aware of their needs.

“So I try to give them quality care, and it takes thought more than time. When my child has a major test, they will find a candy in their school bag with a note wishing them success. If one of them is having a rough time in school, he will get an extra ‘I love you’ hug. When I want to make a child feel good, I will cook her favorite lunch.

“We also started to do something fun in our family that we call the “king for a day” project. On that day, the lucky child will put a crown on their head in the morning and know that it’s their day—the day that they are spoiled by everyone. The kids love it.

“So really, the secret is not how many children you have but how much you are willing to make them a priority in your life. Don’t forget, too, that every week, there is a beautiful Shabbat when we sit around the table and eat, talk and sing together. We give our kids our full attention, and they enjoy reporting what they have learned in school during the week. Then, of course, there are also chagimeach with its own individual flavor that is so meaningful for them.

“But really, seeing is believing,” continued Esti. “Please come and visit, and see for yourself!”

She looked at her watch and jumped up. “I have to pick up the little ones in a half-hour and get home to my eight shining lights. Let’s talk more another time.”

“By the way,” she says as she leaves, “if you’re wondering how they feel about growing up in a large family, listen to this … my 7-year-old learned to read and proudly uses her siddur every day. Last week, she confided in me: ‘Imma,’ she said, ‘I am praying to G‑d that you should bring us another baby. If possible, triplets!’ ”