One big (crazy) happy family


[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]A few years ago, I was the oldest of three children. It was always just me, my mother, my brother, and my sister. And I liked it that way. Now, as I am getting ready to complete my final semester in high school, I am the oldest of five children and a member of what some might call a very large family.

The first four years of my life, it was just me and my mom. She eventually got married, and had two more kids. She and her husband got divorced when I was in middle school, and it was just the two of us yet again. Only this time, it wasn’t just the two of us. With younger siblings added, the family dynamic had definitely changed. Until recently, I thought that getting used to other kids vying for my mom’s attention was the biggest family challenge I had to face.

A few years ago, Harry, the father of a girl on my softball team, offered to help my mom coach. I don’t think she really wanted the help, as she was always fine doing things on her own, but, for some reason, she agreed to it. Eventually, they started dating. As the story goes, they fell in love, and now they are married. I’ve called this man my stepfather for a while now, and though it wasn’t easy getting used to having a Jewish man and his two daughters in our family, things have become pretty wonderful.

At first, I was angry. I was barely okay with having two siblings. Two more? That seemed downright unacceptable. Harry’s oldest daughter is only a year younger than me, so I had the added difficulty of dealing with another teenage girl in my house. For the longest time, the kids mostly fought. We could never agree on what movie to see or what meal to eat, and everyone was pretty miserable.

We had some extended family stay with us twice this past year, and it was much more pleasant. For Thanksgiving, Harry’s parents visited from New Jersey, which meant nine people and three pets in the house for ten days. For Christmas, his sister, her husband, and their son visited from New York, which meant ten people and three animals for the same amount of time. Sure, it was chaotic, but that has become the norm in my house. Surprisingly enough, it’s a good kind of chaotic. A comforting kind of chaotic.

My family has seen a lot of changes in the last several years. These days, we open both Christmas and Hanukkah presents, attend both birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs, eat both donuts and sufganiyot (Israeli jelly donuts). Going out to dinner now means always calling ahead and telling the restaurant we have seven-yes, seven-people. And the decorations can get a bit hectic around all of the different holidays we now celebrate, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s my last year at home, and my family has made it absolutely perfect.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]