The advantages growing up in a big family

The advantages growing up in a big family

My husband has just one brother, and when he entered my family home for the first time, he was speechless. The table was full of chattering loud family members who welcomed him as they continued arguing and laughing over the most recent political situation most likely. I was watching him wondering," Would he think we were too odd? Would he go running?" 
He didn't go running, he was somewhat amused and overwhelmed as he sat there observing the show. Over the years he has also come to see that there are advantages and disadvantages of being one of eleven. Some advantages are:

- I am one tough cookie! I was teased like mad by my brothers and even though I did cry I realize only now how tough I am because of them.

- I know how to fight for attention but also how to stand off and let someone else shine. Sharing and using your elbows to get attention is a daily part of life.

- I am quick on my feet and know how to fend off just about any argument - even to the point of zinging a person.  Sometimes I love this skill, and sometimes I am almost embarrassed; knocking someone down with my arguments isn't always pleasant for those around me. I  have to bite my tongue on a very regular occasion and practice not using this skill.

- I am not afraid of conflict. I was surrounded by love and laughter but also fights galore. Not alone am I good at conflict, but I know how to voice my opinion and speak up. We were all excellent debaters in the Thatcher home. Debate at the dinner table was like an ongoing training session for life. I am surprised none of us have become politicians with the skills we honed growing up.

The last thing that I realize is that we share the work;  cleaning the house, gardening, and cooking. With our parents getting older I know that we will not have an issue as they age. My Mom has always claimed, "Our insurance was our kids. If we get into trouble, they will come to the rescue."

Thank goodness they are healthy and well but with my inlaws struggling I am noticing the difference between a big and small family, and I am missing my siblings even more than average these days. 

I did not have orange juice on a daily basis, drank powdered milk, wore hand-me-downs and had to share everything, but I know that we have a bond. We are living our own lives, but when push comes to shove, we will all stand together and help each other.

–Allison Ochs, Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife