Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Baker's Dozen

I used to love telling people from outside Utah that there were 13 people in my family. Their eyes would go wide and their jaws would drop. On my mission, I would show people a picture of my family and the first question was “Are they all from one mother?” and the next was usually, “Did you have a TV?”

A few weeks ago, I had the rare opportunity of performing a family song with my 10 siblings. It was my parents speaking-in-church-before-their-mission-that-isn’t-called-a-farewell-anymore, and everyone had made a super-human effort to be there.

So, in honor of that possibly not to be repeated scenario, here is my take on the sociological effects of growing up in a big family.

1. Eating Fast: Anything good didn’t last long, so you ate it fast and as much as possible. I remember a whole drawer full of grapes being gone in under an hour.

2. No Germ Phobias: Growing up in a big family made eating off each other’s silverware, using each other’s hair brushes, drinking from each others cups no big deal. There was even a time I was okay with a communal toothbrush. (I grew out of that one. . .)

3. Singing: I was an adult before I realized why we always sang on road trips and for FHE—there was a 16 year age range and singing was one of the few things that we could all do together. Additionally, if we were singing, we weren’t fighting or asking if we were there yet. I now see it as a brillant strategy.

4. Sibling Traditions: We did what our siblings did. Mark didn’t like tomatoes, so no one younger than him did either. My oldest siblings moved out at 18 and so did the rest of us. Precedents were set for years to come.

5. Tolerance: I found it easier to relate to all kinds of different people because I lived under the same roof with someone like them. We had the computer guy, cheerleader, athlete, drama/choir kid, super-student etc.

6. Opinionated: I learned to state my opinions strongly (even more strongly than I actually felt at times). Otherwise you could have 12 people contradicting you at once. I’ve had to learn to soften this tendency in the outside world—it doesn’t go over well.

7. Independence: My parents were amazing caregivers, but it was impossible to be on top of us for every little thing, so what we excelled in, we chose to excel in.

8. Interdependence: Most of my questions and needs can usually be addressed by someone in my family—medical, computer, fashion and beauty, writing, cooking, photography, shopping tips, food storage etc. It's really great.

In spite of its challenges, being from a big family is pretty spectacular. I’m grateful to my Mom and Dad for making it possible.


Naoma SW said...

Amen.. to all of it!

LauraLee said...

Just looking at these pictures brings back so many memories. I have been so blessed by you and your family. I hope you know how thankful I am!
Love you,

Blondie said...

Wow, looks like the only one missing is Mandy Moore--I've always thought she was the long lost Stewart sister (I'm sure you guys get that a lot.)

I totally agree with you. I'm certain my view of the world and interactions with others are influenced by the fact that I grew up with ten siblings.
I think that families that large have their own culture.

Ryan and Lori said...

That's awesome! I loved reading the things you've benefited from by having such a large family. We're so grateful for big families too!

TmeggenT said...

Loved this post, Sarah! I have to admit though, the first glance at your family photo took me WAYYYY back to a time when I was in a photo on that very same stairway with some very dear friends! Babes forever! Love you, woman! Oh, and your awesome family too!

Aim said...

Now that I'm a mother of 4, I could never imagine having 10. Your parents are super hero's! Good job Mom and Dad Stewart!

Nick and Ashley said...

Few more I thought I might add
1. Rise with Rivalry; Elise said that if I didn't like tomatoes when I was little, I never would, I told her I would (all snooty)and I do.
2. Games. We always played games.
3. Cookies. Making cookies is a complete Roberts thing.

Annalisa said...

that is awesome!! my mom will be so excited to see these pictures. smiles!!

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