Family Portrait: Meet the Flynns

What life is like for a Bethesda family with six kids—including twins




From left: Matt Jr., Brendan, Michelle, Shawn, Matt, twins Maggie and Jude, and Joe. Photo by Liz Lynch

In a recent post on her new blog, Mamma Bear, Michelle Flynn says she’s knee-deep in “family 2.0.” She and her husband, Matt, who was her childhood crush, live in Bethesda with their six children. The older kids, Matt Jr., 14, Shawn, 13, and Joe, 11, are close in age, but the younger ones—Brendan, 2, and twins Jude and Maggie, born in October—came along much later.  

A Long Story: Matt and Michelle, both 40, met in first grade at St. Jane de Chantal in Bethesda. At Walter Johnson High School, they went to freshman dances as a couple, and they even took family vacations together as their parents were friends. They officially started dating when they were both students at the University of Maryland, and they married four years later. “Our worlds are very much shared to begin with,” Michelle says. 

Home Team: In 2010, Matt and Michelle moved into her grandmother’s old house, just down the street from St. Jane de Chantal, where Shawn and Joe are third-generation students. Michelle runs an after-school program there. Their siblings’ families are all close by; her parents are a half-mile away, and his parents are two blocks away.
It’s a Girl: The couple waited until each child was born to learn the baby’s sex. Maggie was born five minutes before Jude, and when the doctor handed her to Matt, he says, “For the first time, I got to say, ‘It’s a girl!’ ” 

Pitching In: Now that the twins are here, the older boys help change diapers and baby-sit. Matt says the babies have taught their brothers more than he and his wife ever could about what it means to take care of someone.

Write Away: The twins arrived early, at 30 weeks. Michelle started sharing funny stories on Facebook to relieve the stress of being in the neonatal intensive care unit. That led her to start her Mamma Bear blog, where she posts anecdotes about raising twins and being a mom. 

Down Time: Matt, a software engineer, estimates that he and Michelle will have some free time in about six years. Matt Jr. wrestles at Walter Johnson, Shawn plays football, Joe swims, and all three play baseball. Somehow the family manages to have dinner together every night. 

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