Growing up in a Big Family

I wonder what it would feel like to own something without it going missing after the third day. I wonder what it would feel like not to fight over a seat at the dinner table, or the last dinosaur chicken nugget, or who used the last of the hot water. I often have to wonder what these simple things would feel like if I didn’t grow up with four older brothers, and two older sisters. Often it was a battle over all of the little things in life, but these moments of my childhood that had once drove me crazy, now are the things that I appreciate the most.

We are definitely a very close family; Meghan, Ryan, Matt, Chris, Chris, Nicolette and I, and yes, I did say Chris twice. That is one of the many questions I recieve on a daily basis when talking about my family. “So, you have two brothers named Chris?” or “Wait, so are they your step brothers?”. These questions in particular are the ones that are difficult to explain, especially when I explain that they are my half-brothers. People often try to tell me then, that “they don’t count”, but one thing I learned from each one of my siblings is that whether they are step-siblings, half-siblings, or just your plain old brother and sister, it isn’t the textbook definition that matters, what matters is the way that they treat you, and each one of them treated me no different than they had ever treated each other. All six of them individually shaped me into the person I am, and showed me the type of person I wanted to be.

Another question that I receive all the time is, “What is it like growing up in such a big family?”. A huge part of it is that I was rarely ever alone. I can remember a very few amount of times that I actually had the house to myself growing up. People were always coming in and out of my room, or at least yelling about something right outside my door. I became so accustomed to having this full house that when it came to my junior year in high school, and all six of my crazy brothers and sisters were living on their own in Brooklyn, Connecticut, or even right around the block, that there was an uncomfortable amount of quiet in my house. And I absolutely hated it. I no longer had any of my sisters clothes to pick from, or anyone to annoy by standing in front of the TV. I came to appreciate each of them more and more with each quiet day at the house. I missed the craziness.

There were many downsides to growing up in such a big family, but the upsides? There was always someone to play with, and always someone to look to when I had a problem. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even have to ask, I would just think to myself, “What would my brother do?”. They taught me responsibility, they taught me how to care for someone, they taught me how to focus on the things that matter, and most importantly, even when I didn’t want to hear it, they always told me when I was wrong. I hope I am lucky enough to say that I have a little bit of each of them mixed into my personality.

Luckily I had these six people to teach me the most important lessons in life. I learned that it is we, not me. I learned that we all look out for each other without even knowing it, I learned sacrifice, and I most importantly learned that family is everything. Moments like playing the “run and tackle” game that we made up in the basement, or laying on the couch all squished watching Christmas movies, are the moments that make you realize that all the bickering, and all the crowded rooms make it all worth it, and make me smile from ear to ear, that I’m not an only child. And I wouldn’t give that up for the world.

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