This picture just makes my heart smile. And although I am only the mom of two of these kids, all five belong to me. And each one belongs to the each member of my family. Anyone who knows me knows that I am the oldest of five kids. And we were raised by the most amazing and selfless parents in the world. My youngest brother, David, always jokes that he had three mothers and two fathers growing up. And although he says it in jest, it is absolutely true. In my family, we take care of each other. We tease in a way that can only mean we are absolutely confident in our love for one another.We love fiercely and with a loyalty that doesn't exist in every family. Sure we fought growing up...phones were taken away (literally), little sisters were left out, brothers teased and were punished by having to sit on the side of the pool (now it would be called a "time out"). Oh and dinner time. As any parent can tell you, that is the witching hour. We argued over who sat where, who got to use the red cup and who was looking at who...we couldn't eat our dinner fast enough and get away from that table. As adults, we look back on those memories with affinity and humor. They are part and parcel of our history, and along with the good memories,we have grown into the cohesive unit that we are today. And now on any given night when we are all together, dinner will long we over...plates will be empty, wine glasses or coffee cups will be full...and there we are sitting at that table talking and laughing until we cry.
Growing up in a big family is hard to explain. Although each of us experienced the same things, we often times experienced them differently based on where we were in the line-up. We all have our roles to fill, but they are not as clear cut as one might think. Yes, I have very fondly been called the bossy oldest sister, but my other siblings also take on some of the typical attributes of the oldest child. They are strong-willed, they are protective, they are leaders. It is uncanny how well we know each other's needs at every given moment and are able to step in and fill the role of listener, advocate, defender, and above all best friend. My brothers, sisters and my parents make up my past, love my new family and are my best friends in my present, and will be by my side and in my heart and we continue on this journey called life.
This brings me back to the picture. I see history repeating itself in these five children (and I am sure it will be more as the rest of us find our true loves and start families). The bond of these five is already a force to be reckoned with...they love being together - can't you tell by the smiles on their beautiful faces? And I sleep well at night knowing that no matter what they will always have all of us to love them and take care of them. And even better...they will always have one another. And I know that one day they will be the ones who never want to get up from the kitchen table.