I come from a long line of big families, which means that my extended family is massive. I am the fifth of six kids, my mother is one of twelve, and my father is one of five. There is nothing more important to us than family, and I absolutely loved growing up with a bunch of brothers and sisters.

To be honest, though, it was sometimes a little bit chaotic (and we can sometimes be a bit overwhelming to outsiders). It was pretty rare that we ever took a family picture that didn’t look precisely like this:

This is pretty much exactly how I remember every attempt to semi-formally record our childhood: my mom would be saying "I do NOT want a picture right now", one of us would be poking at her, my brothers would be making totally dorky faces, and one of us is inevitably blinking or giving someone bunnyears. Cue: my dad behind the camera, getting frustrated because his children collectively look like a disheveled menace to society.

That said, all of my favorite memories are these epic stories that have now become legend (and this is very much the same for my mother's family, but her family is twice the size of ours, which means that their stores are twice as legend). I'll save some of the epic stories for later posts, but in honor of national sibling day, here are my top things that I love about being from a big family:

  • You learn to eat faster than any other human your age, starting from age 3. My mom somehow always made exactly enough for 2.5 extra servings of dinner every night, but there were 6 kids, three of whom were growing boys. Since we were super active, we were always really hungry, which meant it was a race to get those 2.5 servings. As a result, I could down a pound of pasta in about five minutes by the time I was 8 (horrifying, I know). I still find myself training myself to eat fast before I home for family dinners. I am also still terrible at sharing food. Like, horrifically bad at it.

  • You remember the first outfit that your parents bought just for you, i.e. the first time you got an outfit that wasn't hand me downs. I wore my older siblings' t-shirts, socks, shorts, ski jackets, and nightgowns, and since I was a total shrimp, nothing ever fit right or looked remotely cool. And, if we're being honest, since I was a shrimp, wore glasses, and went through a wonderful development phase known as "headgear", I was an interesting sight to behold. I still remember the first outfit I ever got from Gap Kids, though: purple stirrup pants, a sweet white turtleneck, and a matching purple fleece vest. These went with my sweet white slip-ons from Bradlees, and I pretty much felt like a boss whenever I wore this sweet ensemble.

  • You get away with NOTHING. If you're in the middle, chances are that you try to give your little siblings a hard time or make up stories to tell them. However, if there is a big kid around, you immediately get called on it, which usually ends up being a mercilessly embarassing memory that is brought up for decades (if you ever meet me, ask about how I told my little sister I had "surgical brain power" - it still makes my cheeks turn bright red).

  • Your siblings are always there for you. Note: this is not the same as always getting along. We are family, so we are imperfect, but I do know that my brothers and sisters will be there for me, for pretty much ever (though that's true for all siblings). No one makes me laugh harder or think harder, they can always snap me out of a funk, and they always make me want to be a better person. And, at the end of the day, they're the people that I always want to hang out with, and they always make me feel like home.

Along the way, we've gotten a little bit more grown up, but not really. Here we are, three weeks ago, at my sister's wedding in Ireland, and I think it's the best we've ever looked.

Happy Sibling Day!