Monday, February 13, 2012

Families and Evolution

I have had an interesting few days. I spent them in New York. Some issues had come up with my family that needed addressing ( for those of you not so savvy folks, that means we were in  FAMILY CRISIS MODE!) 

Of course my family does crisis pretty well. But we are also Irish so we never bother letting anyone else know we are having a crisis, because clearly we are the only ones on the planet who have troubles. All 11 of us are practically crisis experts. Before you all start cringing and asking for gory details -I have no intention of revealing deep dark family secrets here tonight ( they could be about me after all and we can't have any of that now can we?). 

What I do want to reveal to you is just what was revealed to me- or at least IS still being revealed to me as I settle in back home. It turns out that families do in fact evolve. Being stuck at the bottom of a pack of 12 siblings and being  the youngest girl to boot, certainly has put me in the lifelong position of being 'one-of-the-little-ones' role. I know talking to different siblings not simply this weekend, but at other points also, we can mostly each feel 'stuck' in  our place in the family and also in how we view each other. Somehow we never really break free of those memories of acne, and first dates, and which place to sit at the dinner table without having to be told. That seems almost more true in a BIG family as everything is amplified in our interactions; not simply our voices.

This weekend we came together to deal with some tough old issues and yet none of us reacted in tough or old ways. We had grown up. And not just in age. We  stuck together, and spoke our minds to one another in a way we had never been able to before. We worked many things out. Isn't that neat? I'd like to tell you that there is some magical fairly tale solutions to what we face, but that isn't the way real life goes. The road ahead looks hard to navigate, with lots of twists and turns. And yet, maybe it is better that way after all. Maybe having easy answers wouldn't really be best for all of us. Maybe having to struggle through the tough calls and hard decisions is actually better for our relationships with one another. Being forced to accept one another with our strengths and weaknesses and learning to work together is  perhaps even more important than solving an issue and walking away. Time will tell. 

Peter and Andrew had stayed home for the weekend, marking the first time we had trusted them alone in the house thus far. After settling in,  Peter and I got into a small battle over some plans he made and as he went stomping off  I realized I had probably over-reacted and needed to talk it out with him. I walked down the stairs and told Peter I was just tired and shouldn't have reacted so strongly. He teared up asking if I trusted him to which I answered "yes!" and he followed with "Don't you remember how it feels to be my age?" And I smiled and said  again "yes".

 It sounded almost  silly  to hear my kid ask  if I remember what it was like to be a kid. His world is so small. He has so little life experience and yet he doesn't even realize that yet. He has spent his 16 years in the incubator of our home with lots of other siblings staying warn and chirping along side of him. He is only discovering who he is.  As I hugged my growing 16 year old son, and turned to walk up the stairs I caught a glimpse of myself back in time.

Before Fred.
Before marriage.
Before children.
Before life had really begun.

And yet I wasn't alone. God had put me in a house much like Peter's. With lots of noise and chattering, and kids fighting and playing with each other, and shaping each other into who we all are today.All of them playing a very significant part in each others lives.I stood there on the stairs for a moment  straddling time- caught somewhere between the enormous family I grew up in and the enormous family I am now raising  And I drank in what it was to be both 16 and 41 in that single moment. Certainly none of it is easy work, and yet both sides made me break  out into a smile.

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