Saturday, November 2, 2013
I've spoken about my siblings on this blog a few times, but for those who don't know, I am the eldest of 11; technically, of 2 whole sisters, 6 half sisters and 2 half brothers. (For the record, we never use the terms 'half-brother' or 'half sister.' However, I'm using them in this blog post for descriptive purposes only.) I don't remember life without siblings (as I was only a year and 2 months old when my first sister was born) and I can't imagine life without ever having them. Yet, there have been times when I've said (and I think all of my siblings can attest to feeling this way at one time or another), 'Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy do I have to be a part of this crockpot stew of siblings!' We have a lot of love for each other but with our complicated beginnings (Papa was a rolling stone), comes jealousy, resentment, competition, chaos and drama. All siblings experience some drama & rivalry but when you add multiple sets of parents to the mix, that experience is multiplied by a thousand. This is not to say there is no goodness....or even greatness....within the group, but the complications can't be denied. When we were young, with hardly any control over our lives and relationships with other people, our parents played a huge role in how we got along (or not) with our sisters and brothers. While my parents were together, my father had 4 children outside of their relationship (in addition to the three he had with my mother) with 3 other women. The first five of us were born within a period of 5 years, with 2 born in the same year, within 6 months of each other. Can you say DRAHHHH-MA!
I grew up in a place where 'everybody knows everybody' so my father couldn't hide his indiscretions for long, if at all. My mother always found out about these other children and we always found out about our new siblings. As a young child, I didn't fully grasp what having these 'outside siblings' meant to my mother and my parents' relationship. I was always happy about having a new sister and excited to tell/show the world. Of course, this did not make my mother happy and, at one point I would get admonished for referring to any of the 'other' kids as my sister. I don't know what my sisters' mothers were saying to them but there was a period of time when two in particular (who shared the same mother) would sometimes say mean things about/to my 2 'whole' sisters and me. It hurt, of course, but even moreso, I was confused. I didn't understand why they felt this animosity towards us when we had never done anything to them. It wasn't until I got older, learned more of the truth and had certain experiences that I understood why the bad blood flowed between those 2 sisters and us. My parents finally broke up when I was around 9 years old, not long after the last of the 'outside' kids was born. There was more drama to be had, despite the breakup, but eventually my parents would stop the madness. My father moved on with the mother of the last child he had while he was with my mother; they had 2 more daughers & one son and eventually got married. My mother moved on, got married and gave birth to my youngest brother. Although our parents finally gave up the drama, my siblings and I (unknowingly) picked up where they left off.
Throughout the years, we have had wonderful times together and we've had heartbreaking times too. We have dealt with pettiness such as gossip & jealousy, serious issues such as backstabbing & disrespect and life-altering events such as birth & death. We have spoken ill of each other, had physical fights, ignored and even stopped speaking to each other. But, we ALWAYS fall back to the lesson our father taught us: sticking together. If my father did anything right, it was to make sure his children not only knew each other but had relationships with each other. He always told us to never let anything or anyone come between us, no matter what. So, when we go through difficult times, we always manage to bring it back to what's important: our relationship with each other and the examples we are setting for our children. We all understand that, because we are human, we will make mistakes and we will do things to upset, disappoint and hurt each other. But what we will also do is be more careful, thoughtful and conscious of our words & actions so the hurtful things happen less; and what we won't do is let the negative overpower the positive. We have vowed to each other that no matter how upset we get or how big or small a transgression is, we will do what it takes to work it out.
We're in a good space today and I believe we serve as good role models of people with similar family dynamics. Therefore, I will be writing more about the good, the bad & the ugly times of Charlie's Angelz (which is what our Dad affectionately referred to us as, since his name was Charlie). I share with the hope that it will inspire someone else to improve, nurture and appreciate the relationships they have, with their siblings and other loved ones.
Charlie's Angelz have come a long way, baby and I say with confidence, things will only get better!