I better get this out quick-like, before Hubs pulls the plug on me. (Not literally, though, seeing as I am neither on life-support, nor an electric car, though I can see how that might get confusing.)
Whenever people (read: Mom) ask if we’re going to have more kids (despite our latest model still less than a year old), I always give the same clever response, after an uncomfortable laugh and an awkward glance at/with Hubs, if he happens to be around: “Well (heh, heh), I already have a matching set (giggle, giggle, shared discomfort with Hubs because we still refuse to talk about it yet), so, you know…!”
Considering our track record, it might be another six-odd years before Hubs and I decide to create another human being, which means I’ll be sitting in the middle of my 30’s. Not to mention the additional ten-spot of baby weight that becomes toddler weight that becomes first grader weight that I seemed to have collected with each offspring. Add in the rate of inflation, and I can pretty much guarantee I will have to kiss the load I was planning on spending on my mid-life crisis good-bye.
Where was I going with this again? Oh, right, more kids a good thing. My bad.
Hubs and I both grew up in a house full of siblings, four per family, which blows the top off the average 1.86 child(ren?) per American household. With four kids in the mix, I know Hubs’ childhood was just as chaotic as mine.
I look back and have no idea how my parents did it all, with twice as many kids as I have. They spent a solid decade of their adult lives together just making kids, nevermind the two or three more it took to rear us all. I think about all the times we burst in on my mom when she was on the phone or in the shower or taking a crap, needing right then her impartial judgment on whose coloring was better, or who was in the wrong this time, or if she knew where my favorite jelly shoes were, because she must have moved them when I wasn’t looking. I think about the after-hours jobs my dad took, or the TDY assignments he accepted for the extra cash, just to see those dollars make a cameo on the bank statement before exiting stage-left, moving on to bigger and better things, from Sears and Toys ‘R’ Us to cars and college.
I think about the privacy and time and money we must have cost, each of us hoarding a little bit until my parents forgot what the bathroom lock was for, or how big a king-sized bed truly was without a rotation of small bodies sneaking in, or how many golf games a hundred bucks would buy. I think about how they had to acquire four sets of virtually everything, just to keep the peace. I think about how they had to referee, delegate, negotiate, divide, and conquer, and I think, “Yup, I’m good with the two.”
But then I think about what was happening behind the noise, above the squabbles, underneath the chaos. I think about the magic of having a big family, one that has grown exponentially with each wedding and birth.
I think about having a built-in best friend, confidante, and sidekick (you’re the sidekick because I’m older) in my little sister. I don’t think about what it was like being the youngest once upon a time, because I simply can’t remember life without her. I think about the fights we would get into over things like who was taller or smarter, our hatred for one another so intense it burned itself out after precisely thirty-seven seconds, and we were back to being best friends again. I think about the times I tried to get her in trouble for saying forbidden words like “butthole,” and the times I fiercely wanted to protect her from bullies and boys and cigarettes. I think of her, and miss her so badly I sometimes tear up.
I think about my older sister, and the things she taught me. I think about how we would play “school,” just for fun. I think about that first day of Kindergarten, walking in with confidence, and when Mrs. Davis asked who of us could spell our names, I raised my arrogant little hand and announced that, not only could I spell my name, but I could write it in cursive, because my big sister taught me how. I think about how we looked up to her, desperately wanting to be invited into her life, wondering how I could be so jealous and proud of her at the exact same time. I think of her, with a daughter of her own, and wish she lived next door so our girls could grow up to be best friends, too.
I think about my brother, and how he was never really “one of the kids,” but more of a presence overshadowing us, because he has always been larger than life. I think about the morning when we were walking to school, and he told me I was his favorite sister, probably because one had annoyed him that morning and the other was too young to be interesting to a teenager, and I basically skipped the entire rest of the way to school, high on his praise that day, and obviously everyday since that otherwise forgettable morning. Everything I did, I sought his approval, sometimes even more than my parents. When I tried to be funny, I secretly watched to see if he laughed. When I played soccer, I ran my heart out, trying not to trip when I attempted one of his fancy moves. When I wanted to sound smart, I waited to see if he acted like he just learned something new because of me. I think of him, and wish he knew how he is, hands down, easily our favorite sibling (all three of us girls).
I think of the joy my parents took in each one of us, carefully, individually, purposefully. I think of how I grew up with a group of hearts bigger than our shouting matches, how I had and will always have someone in my corner, even if or when the fight is against one another. I think about how beautifully dysfunctional, how supremely messy, how utterly chaotic and extraordinarily divine my childhood was, and then I think, “Eh, a couple more can’t hurt.”
After all, I still know how to work my bathroom lock.