Having growing up as the eldest in a big family (and still living at home) definitely has its ups and downs. There’s basically no privacy, anything I do has to be setting an example for my siblings and sometimes I feel like I was born into a job I really didn’t ask for. My sisters and brother can be self centered little nuts. Yes they drive me crazy (quite often actually) but in a weird way, I’m lucky to have them. For years 6 years I was an only child and while I had everything (like privacy and undivided attention), I’d always wanted someone to share it with someone although looking back, I never could have imagined that I’d eventually get 5 someones to share life with.
It can be hard to relate to my siblings because they are all so much younger then I am (16,12,10,8,2) and in such different stages in their lives. I remember when my parents told us that they were having little man (at the time we didn’t know he’d be a he). I was in college and none too happy to be honest. I couldn’t understand why they would want another child after all we had going on already with the 5 of us girls.
At the time I would get really frustrated with how other people viewed me and my family, I’d try to hide them because our sheer number would generate some pretty crazy (and not at all original) conversation. People compared us to all kinds of famously large families (once we got compared to the 19 kids and counting family…common people) and always looked at my father pityingly saying “poor guy, 5 girls! Five weddings! It’s only going to get worse…” they’d always say “what happened, you’re trying for that boy, huh?” If we had a dollar for every time someone said that (while I was standing there) we’d all be able to go to college for free.
For some reason people assume just because we have a big family that there’s something wrong with us, that my parents are supper fanatical (which isn’t completely far fetched they are pretty steadfast in their faith but they aren’t quite as bad as some people I’ve met), that we have miserable lives (or conversely that we are always supper happy and get along great), and basically that we should be pitied.
It took me a long time to realize that the way people saw us didn’t have to define how I understood my family. Yes there are a lot of us. Yes we’re pretty lucky we do get along for the most part but at the same time there are a lot of different mindsets and personalities at the table so we do clash (definitely not always happy). Yes it is hard to get everyone present and smiling for a picture. Yes my family leans more on the religious side but they also aren’t as close minded as you’d think. My parents are funny, in love and honest with us. They ask my opinion, and while we’re still working though some differences of opinion they speak to me as an equal. I’ve learned so much from them over the years and even though I’d have done some things differently, I can’t change things.
It wasn’t until my parents had Little Man that I realized that my parents are living their dream. They wanted a big family and for the most part, they love their life. I used to get so annoyed thinking that my parent’s were doing it wrong. Once I finally got out of my own head and looked at them for what and who they are, just two people trying to figure life out together on their terms, it started to make more sense. It took me a long time to see that my opinions about what a family should be and how they should do things really don’t matter when I look at my parents and family because they are living their dreams of how they wanted their family to be.
Now that Evan and I are planning our future together we’re in this exciting stage of daydreaming. We talk and day dream about all kinds of ideas we hope will some day come true. We talk about the kind of life we’d want to live and the family we’d like to have someday. We’re excited about what the future has in store for us and while I’m busy thinking all these thoughts, I cant help but look back on my parents. When they first started out, they must have been just like Evan and I thinking about their future and the life they’d have together. I’m sure things didn’t always go according to plan but I’m glad that in some way they’ve made their dream come true. I’m glad they’ve found their happy and I hope someday we’ll find ours too.