Thursday, July 23, 2009

A recap that turned into reflections on family

Wednesday afternoon I left Donovan with my mom and Philip (they went to the neighborhood pool together, apparently had a blast, D being happy and very adorable right down to his bath where he was watching Philip shave and imitated putting shaving gel on his face), and Jenny and I went down to South Congress for a little shopping. We made a point to stop at Parts and Labour (see the blog here), one of my new favorite stores ever. They sell all sorts of really neat stuff, from jewelry to clothes to housewares, everything made by local Austin artists-- including my friend Kara's kailo chic line, and another acquaintance's Kandle Kidswear line of super cute Austin-themed clothes. After spending a bit too much money (including picking up this adorable armadillo shirt for D, since he's outgrowing his bluebonnet and bevo ones), but feeling good about supporting local artists, we then went to Chuy's where we met Danyelle for queso and margaritas.

The 3 of us then went to the Posse by UT campus to meet my mom and my uncle Casey and wife Barb, Uncle Tom and wife Vicky, and Aunt Marcie and her husband Jason (the others had left town earlier that day). This bar is imfamous in our family, as it's where all my uncles and my aunt hung out when in college, and later was also a regular spot for Zach when he was at UT. My uncles and aunts go there at least once, if not many more times than that, every time they come to Austin. Danyelle headed home after a while, and Jenny and I listened in as they talked more of the past and the present.

My siblings and I have always occupied kind of an awkward spot on Mom's side of the family. Mom was the first of her siblings to have kids, our first cousin being born 4 years after Jenny (our youngest sister). So while we had fun playing with our 14 cousins when they were little, we were still quite a bit older and so not really their "peers." But we were still far too young to be included with the adutls, so we were kind of out on our own-- niot allowed at the adults table at Tahnksgiving, but feeling way too old at the kids table. As we've grown older we've developed a deep interest for listening in to the "adults" conversations, hearing the stories of when they were kids and picking up nuances in the relationships among them all. But it's still felt like listening as outsiders, not feeling like it was appropriate to speak up ourselves (not in a dont-speak-till-spoken-to way, more like it's-not-about-you-so-just-listen-and-absorb if that makes sense). But this week some of them, especiallu Marcie, has been making a point to include us and the other older cousins in the conversations, to make sure we're there and listening and taking it in, and allowing us to bne included. I wonder if this was sparked by Grampa's passing, and the realization that our family reunions will not always be the way they are now.

Anyway, so this one night out at the Posse Jenny and I, for one of the first times ever, really felt included in the give and take of the conversation, as equals with the others. And it was really nice. It seems funny to say that, to be close to 30 and say you're finally being included as an adult, but I imagine that just as I still sometimes tend tpo think of my cousins as little kids even though they're in college, I'm sure it's also tough to adjust your vbiew of nieces and nephews to realize that they really are grown.

It's at these family reunions, and this one in particular, that pull me to thinking of having a large family. I love the interplay of all the siblings now that they're grown, and I would so love for Donovan to have that. But then I think about what that means in the shorter term (i.e. when they're young) and just don't know if I have it in me. My grandmother had 7 children in 12 years, almost all of them "irish twins" (would have been 9, if not for a miscarriage and one lost twin). We were at her house with Donovan the other day, and she remarked than by the time my mom was his age, she already had a 3 month old baby brother. I don't know how she did it. I imagine standards were pretty different then-- I joked to Mom that Grammy was probably not sitting down and doing art projects with the kids, and she looked at me like I was mad, it was THAT ridiculous of a thought. But STILL. I'll just say I'm very glad for birth control. I'd love to give D a few brothers and sisters, but I often feel like if I survive having a 2nd, I'll be surprised and very grateful.


  1. I remember, years ago, trying to get a word in edgewise at one of these events, and Aunt Marcie, who was sitting next to me and noticing my futile attempts, told me she was well into (or maybe even past) high school before she was able to participate in conversations with her brothers. I can see how she'd be the one to reach out first.

  2. My mother had 5 children. We were "Irish Quintuplets!" From the oldest to the youngest is 6 years and there was a stillborn in the middle. The woman was pregnant for 6 straight years!

    We didn't have a cleaning service. None of us went to child care centers. So she was extremely busy.

    But I remember her making us home-made play doh (we were too poor to afford the real thing) and sitting with us and doing art projects.

    I remember her reading us stories every day from the small stack of books we owned and the huge stacks of books we got from weekly walks to the local public library.

    I remember her sewing all of our clothes, even the underwear. The only thing we had store bought was shoes that were shipped from my grandmother who worked in a shoe store and got a discount,

    I remember the home-made bread and the gardening. We helped with all of it and I thought it was fun. I didn't know until I got much older that it was because our family couldn't afford to not do subsistence gardening.

    I remember my father working all day and then coming home to take care of us while Mom went to work all night at a factory.

    I do not remember her being distant, or uninvolved, or impatient or too busy doing housework/cooking to stop and play for a few minutes.

    My parents were poor in money, but rich in children. And love.

    So when I thought about the possibility of adopting Global Baby's half sibling, who will be about a year younger than he, I was terrified. But then I remember my parents having 5 children so close to age. And I remember how much we were all loved. And I know how close I am to all of my siblings. A closeness partially because we were all so close in age and played with each other all of our childhood.

    And I know that we have so many more resources than they ever did. We can afford a weekly cleaning service. We can afford an au pair if I need a bit of extra help. We can afford to buy my parents plane tickets so they can come to Europe for extended vacations and lend a hand.

  3. But my husband wants me to add that it is still scary.

  4. it's so interesting to observe the dynamics at family functions!
    i've only been to austin once, and i remember the shopping being pretty rad. i also especially liked amy's ice cream -- take D for a photobooth shoot! :)

  5. how would you feel if I told you that I had a dream two nights ago where you had second child, another little boy?

  6. THank you For mentioning us on your blog! We love to support locals! and kara is an amazing designer! glad you had a splended time.
    Parts & Labour



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