So let’s go back to the family thing, shall we? This week I want to talk some more about my family, and next week I’ll talk about Daniel’s family.
My parents were married young and I was born when they were both nineteen. My Mom stayed home with me while my Dad worked and continued to take college classes. From the very beginning, I was baptized and raised Catholic. I think I mentioned before that my Dad was not Catholic for most of my childhood, but we always went to Sunday Mass as a family. When I was little, I actually thought that it was the father’s job to stay back from Communion to save his family’s seats! (I don’t know why it never occurred to me that other fathers left their seats unattended).
My sister Marie was born when I was two and a half, Rose when I was six (the first I was old enough to remember later), and Jane when I was eight. In the summer of 1998 we moved from the townhouse we had lived in for ten years; my parents were having a big house built “in the country.” My Dad was his own general contractor, and he and my Mom did much of the work themselves.
That same summer my next sister, Annie, was born. For almost six months, we lived with my grandparents. Then, just before Christmas, we planned to “camp out” at our new house for a whole weekend to get more work done, but we didn’t sleep at my grandparents’ house another night. We stayed in our new house from then on, even though it was not finished by any stretch of the imagination. There has been constant work being done ever since—it has now been almost ten years, and the house certainly has come a very long way!
Apparently my family really needed all that new space, because it was not done growing. When I was a freshman in high school we found out that my Mom was pregnant again, and that spring my first brother was born: Paul! That brings us up to 2001. I finished high school and started college, and this is the family that Daniel met in the fall of 2004: my still young parents, four little sisters (aged fifteen, eleven, nine, and six) and a three-year old little brother.
Daniel always says that when he first met my family, he felt like he was in a family sitcom like “Full House”—everybody was too good, too happy. The dynamics even felt a little fake to him at first. It was “too perfect” somehow. Well, Daniel has now been around enough during the past four years to know that my family is far from fake, and far from perfect. But I think I sort of understand what he was feeling at first; I have always felt that there was something special about my family (I know, everyone says that, right?). There’s so much love and so much fun and silliness in my family—it’s never boring. And I guess being the oldest, I have always been very proud and protective of all of my younger siblings, similar to how a parent feels about their children, although not to the same extent. And because my parents were married so young and have been through so much since then, I have also always been very proud of them. Next to Daniel, my family are my best friends.
Now you have the context for the news we got in February 2007. Daniel and I were home for my sister Rose’s fourteenth birthday when we learned that my Mom would be having yet another baby. I was twenty years old. Paul, the youngest at the time, was about to turn six the next week. As I’m sure you can imagine, we were all shocked.
As we sat around the dinner table with wide eyes and open mouths, Paul started to cry. I think one of my sisters did too. Daniel, being more emotionally removed, found the whole thing quite amusing. And of course, being the youngest in his family, he had never before experienced this, whereas I had five times before. He was so excited! Edward (a second boy so that Paul would have a brother) was born that August, so he is now almost fifteen months old…