I was in third grade when I made friends with a girl named Annette. Annette had curly brown hair, which in third grade meant more frizz than curl. She was tall, much taller than me but her most unique feature was her family. Her mother had died and her father had remarried a widow. Between the two of them they had 15 children. Her house was always filled with people and she talked all the time about her aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, etc, etc. I was jealous.
I moved around a lot as a kid and although I’m very close with my immediate family I never had the comfort of an extended family. We would see my grandparents every couple of years. My aunts, uncles and cousins were mainly names to me with only a handful of visits during my childhood. Don’t misunderstand, there was love. Oh yes, there was always lots of love and when we were together it was always fun and exciting – but our meet ups were rare.
I grew up longing for an extended family that was close. A family to whom you could fall into every time you saw each other. A family who enveloped you and surrounded you and smothered you. I wanted a big, messy, loud family with kids and cousins and aunts and uncles. And then I met David, and this is his family (minus one aunt and uncle and accompanying cousins who couldn’t make it):
A big family brings conflict and obligation and hurt feelings. This is true. We have so many birthdays between January and April we actually refer to it as the “birthday season”. The family has its own system for conflict resolution and there are enough people to warrant our own Facebook fan page. I frequently joke that I feel as if I married into the mob without all the murder and illegal activity. There is a boss (although they call her “sister”) and there are fractions, and sub-groups, and an unspoken mode of communication.
However, nothing can replace the feeling of knowing that you are always one phone call away from an army of assistance, or that feeling of support when you look up into the stands and see your own personal cheering section. Every person’s success is cheered and celebrated, and every person’s failure mourned and consoled. Mistakes are forgiven and change is always welcomed.
People say, “be careful what you wish for because you might just get it”. I did wish, for many years, to have a large family, and I indeed got that when I married David. I am most grateful that THAT wish came true.