Monday, March 23, 2009


Yesterday was my niece, Cece’s, birthday. Happy birthday Cece! Your present really is on the way. (Along with my new found inability to get out of bed, is my new found inability to get anything in the mail on time.)

Cece is my youngest brother’s youngest child. (This is my East Coast brother… not to be confused with my West Coast brother.) She is in the height of her pre-school years. What a wonderful time of life. For most kids her age, every day is joyful. Too bad those memories get fuzzy as we age.

Thinking about and missing my siblings got me thinking about families. I am the oldest of five children.Four of us are married with children; my sister (the East Coast one) is still footloose and fancy free. Collectively, we have 13 children. I know this because I just sat here and added them up. My mother knows this number as well as she knows her name. WC brother holds the honor of making her a grandmouse first, but I came in a close second 7 months later. The latest addition to the mischief is only 6 months old. Thirteen grandchildren in 22 years. My own grandmouse had four children who produced 16 grandchildren in 17 years, whew!

I have five sons, including a set of twins.

While we were raised by the same parents, who are still married almost 50 years later, the make-up of our families is very different. WC brother has 3 daughters from his first marriage and a son with his current wife, the love of his life, I might add. Though young, we were certainly adults, if only by a few years, when we started down the road of parenthood. Both my EC brother and WC sister married later than I did and subsequently started their families later. EC brother became a father long after WC brother and I had finished our run, so to speak. He has two of the cutest little girls you will ever meet. WC sister started her foray after EC brother was done. She has the *classic* family: a son followed by a daughter. Unless EC sister decides to liven things up (which wouldn’t surprise me), this is our family. Il finito. Oh, there will be (and already are) spouses and more babies, but as it stands now, this generation is complete. That in itself is an odd thought, a family milestone.

Now that you understand that part of our family dynamic, what I was mulling over is how our individual families have been and continue to grow and be shaped. As in any category of life, you can only bring to the game the skills you have. Would I be the parent, or even woman, I am if I had been born last instead of first? I think it is generally agreed upon within our family that I am the peacemaker and the nurturer. I don’t mind those labels… it’s who I am. What if I had waited ten years to start my horde? Would I be who I am today? Probably not. We are who we are because we are who we are. (Why do I feel like if I threw in a “duuuude” that could be a line from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure?)

This is where someone with more knowledge of birth order than I have could have a field day. I find birth order fascinating. The theory is challenged by researchers, but I firmly believe it has merit. Countrymouse and I are both firstborns. WC brother, who is sibling #2, married the youngest daughter both times. EC brother, the middle child, married a middle child. WC sister, the youngest in our pack, married a firstborn. Every single union is unique. Does that effect who we are or who we become? What about our roles as parents? My brother-in-law is a firstborn. He had his first child at age 32 and I had mine at 23. Of course, the whole gender thing is another dimension but we are very different parents. This is neither good nor bad… it just is. As parents we do what we think is right. We aspire to be the very best parents we know how to be. The twist is, what we know is influenced by who we are. Who we are is influenced by ??? Birth order? Spouse selection? ???

These are the things that keep me wondering. I don’t pretend that any of this is productive… it’s just the places my mind travels when it’s let loose. Ultimately, my siblings and I are happy… happy in our relationships and with our children. This is the only bit of any importance. It can be amusing to ponder things that cannot be, but only if when you lay your head on your pillow at night you are confident that who you are is what makes you the happiest.

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