What is your role in the family – with a large family comes a larger puzzle


I am the youngest of 6.  From 1957 to 1964 (7 years) my mother had 6 children.  To this day I can’t make the math work in my head because there is a year and a half between me and my next oldest brother, and three years between him and the next.  So that’s 6 children in seven years but a difference of 3 years in between????  And most of our birthday’s are in August and September.   So my mother got pregnant mostly around Thanksgiving.  I am thinking that my parents did not eat the turkey; the children fell asleep, but they didn’t 🙂

Anyway, keep in mind that this is a french-canadian catholic family (big surprise, huh, did you think I was going to say we were Irish?  Pretty close!) so offically, birth control was a sin.  But, my mother tells a funny story about how she had one child on the pill, one on the IUD, one with a condom, one with the Rythym Method, and one with abstinence.   I said to her “That’s only five” and she said “I was so fertile that I got pregnant twice with one of them,” but she can’t remember which one. 

I’ve always told her that her children are all very smart but they robbed her of her brain cells.  I am only kidding; my mother is a very smart lady.  And as much as she can piss me off sometimes, and as much as I blamed her for so many years for my problems, it really wasn’t fair.  We all need to take responsibility for ourselves at somepoint.

As for my role in the family, being the youngest of 6 makes people automatically think that I was a spoiled child.  In my mind, it was just the opposite.   The first 5 years of my life I don’t think anybody remembered that I was there.  It was a cousin that taught me how to tie my shoes, no one in my immediate family.

I grew up the fat, ugly, black-sheep child who also turned out to be gay.   I don’t blame anyone for that; I believe I was born that way and I am happy that I am.  But to fight off all of the ridicule from my very own family, I had to be smarter and funnier than all of them.  It was my defense.

Even today, when the family is together, I say the most outrageous things just to get them to laugh.  When we are all together at Christmas or Thanksgiving, which isn’t often (not the holiday itself, I know that happens once year, I’m talking about all of us being in the same place, idiot) and I can say something that makes them all laugh, I just love that.  I guess I am lucky that everyone in my family has a very good sense of humor and nothing is more precious to me than laughter.

I am a bit of a loner.  My family, I’m sure, doesn’t really know that much about me.  They don’t really ask, and I don’t really tell.  I would, if somebody asked, but I think when we are together, we want to play our roles.  The oldest son who is the most successful,  the oldest sister who, when we were young, played the role of second mother.  The middle children, one boy, one girl.  The girl is the peace-keeper, like so many middle children, and the boy is the underachiever (in everyone else’s eyes, not his own) compared to his older brother.

So I wrote this article in some ways as an homage to my family.  The more I learn about the world, the more I realize how lucky we are; now and when we were children.  None of us is perfect, but we are all successful, no one has been to prison, all of my nieces and nephews are really great kids, and I look forward, someday, to figuring out what their roles are too. 

So what was your role?

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