Nine Is Enough: Lessons Learned from Growing up in a Large Family
‘The family. We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.’ ~ Erma Bombeck
The family portrait that hangs prominently on the wall above the antique piano always serves well as a conversation starter for anyone visiting the old homestead. Whether they are first-time visitors or frequent visitors, there seems to be some sort of magnetic field that draws them to gaze, and at times gawk, at the number of people frozen in time in that framed photograph.
“How many people in your family?” This question is often asked with high-pitched tones of incredulity. “Nine kids plus my parents make eleven,” I’d answer. More often than not, “Wow” would be followed by a moment of reverent silence, then a barrage of other questions and comments would follow: “How many boys? How many girls? Who is the eldest? The youngest? How big was your house? How many bedrooms and bathrooms? And what was it like growing up in such a large family?”
Developing a survival instinct
Growing up with a coterie of adolescents, all with chips on their shoulders, was a poignant experience. The large family’s legacy to our personalities was a keen survival instinct which manifests itself in the countless occasions of crises we siblings brave. Older ones were tasked to look after the younger ones, who of course had no choice but to obey; no ifs nor buts.
Erma Bombeck, whose books chronicled her own family’s adventures and misadventures, only had three kids. Her daily experiences of dealing with pubescent issues and her own identity crisis endeared her to millions of readers because here was a wife and mother who...