Growing up I was the oldest girl of eight kids. Though there are three brothers older than I, I am still asked if I am the oldest. I was the first to be married, the first to have a child. To be quite honest I am just that much more mature than my three older brothers. They won’t refute this (only because they don’t read my blog).
When I was younger my siblings and I had what I am sure is a norm of sibling rivalry, affections and terrors.
We did terrorize one another. I am pretty sure other sibling groups did the same just not in the same way. We have one brother who’s name happened to be the name of a farm we would pass every weekend. So we always told him we were going to take him back to the farm where we got him.
We told one younger brother that we were calling the trash men to come get him.
We use to scare the baby sister so she would hug you like crazy out of fear.
They called me Pinky Stinky (and yes I cried).
We called one another “Pig” so often that mom got a little sick of it. She made us stand in front of a mirror and say “I am a pig”. Of course the pause between “I” and “a” was filled with “not”. To which she would yell “I can hear you say not!”
We tattled and we taled. All through childhood.
We fought with crab apples, sticks, b b guns (it was NOT our fault our parents were silly enough to get them for us), slaps and kicks. I don’t remember any punches ever being thrown. But I bet shoes were.
Mom would hold periodic family meetings that no one, no one, wanted. And she would say during every single meeting “you will never have better friends than each other.” And of course “you will never love anyone like you do your brothers and sisters”. To which we moaned, inwardly probably but outwardly sometimes, and groaned our disgust. Like we couldn’t find better friends than each other! Love! Why would I love him/her-he/she is an idiot pig!
In addition to the terrors were sprinkled other sibling behaviors and events..
There was dinner when heads were bowed and hands were folded and our mealtime prayer was muttered in break neck speed.
There were backyard kickball and softball games. First bounce or fly. Hide and seek. And football of course.
There was always another sibling in the house if you got in trouble because of someone else who would commiserate with you.
There was always another sibling to get help from if school work was just too much.
There was joy when graduates graduated. Sympathy if you got hurt. Shared laughter during Hee Haw, or tears you hid from one another during a sad “Waltons”.
There was safety in our numbers.
And no tolerance for stupidity from one another.
We all loved pancake dinners by mom and dad’s fancy lunches.
We all grew up and we all moved on.
There are moments in our lives when we are as we were. Together in a way like we once were, as siblings, and children.
We cried and laughed our way through our father’s death, funeral and the realization of losing him.
We come together for one of us at any time that one of us is in need.
We celebrate our family’s growth and achievements.
And we suffer together and separately our pains and disappointments.
We laugh together at things only the eight of us would understand.
And I know the truth of what mom said. I will never love anyone like I love my brothers and sisters.
I didn’t know it then….
But what I did then,
And I love.