Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.
My family is large. There are seven of us kids spanning thirteen years. So, it goes without saying that there was a certain amount of chaos in our house with all the comings, goings, tantrums, fighting, hurt feelings, rowdy playing, et cetera... It wasn't as bad as it sounds and, most of the time, I really wasn't aware of how busy everything always was. It just WAS. We sat down to family dinner every night. We went to church every Sunday.
For me, what I remember of my childhood was idyllic in many ways. I didn't have to worry about anything except the teasing of my siblings or getting into trouble for the myriad of idiotic situations I would get myself into. I always had playmates, whether I wanted them or not. I don't remember feeling bored too often. I used to think that boredom was impossible while we lived in California, but I have come to realize as I've grown older that there was simply so much going on all the time. It also helped that we had a pool. ;)
Some of my siblings have said that our parents weren't "around" all the time. I think they were trying to say that my parents, trying to stay out of the chaos, often sequestered themselves in their room/office areas. I think I felt that way for a while, too. Now, when I think about it, I think they were always around (except when Dad was at work). I seem to recall that they were always somewhere in the background. There is a distinct immaterial wall between childhood and adulthood. I was aware of my parents enough to know that they were there in case anything happened that needed their attention, for good or ill. But, in my infinite world of play and pretend, they simply did not figure. They were the all-powerful, vaguely disinterested Watchers over all us kids.
As I grew older, the wall surrounding childhood started to fade and grow thin. I was more aware of my parents as real people with their own interests and feelings. I became keenly aware of the impact of my behavior on my family, especially my mother. I could tell when I irritated or disappointed her. As a young child, it wouldn't have made an impact on me at all.
Things are different now in many ways. All us kids, for the most part, have become peers as well as siblings. We've come to the point where the youngest can say something just as important as the eldest without fear of "What do you know? You're just the baby." We've grown up... mostly. We are learning to move past the bruised feelings of childhood and getting to know our siblings as people. It is surreal in many ways to be surprised by someone you spent your whole life knowing. Shouldn't we know each other inside and out? Apparently not. I'm still learning.
Our parents still have our respect as our parents. The wise ones. The ones who cared for us while we were young. But now, they are no longer the Disciplinarians, the Rule Enforcers, the Because-I-Said-So's.... They are the Loving Grandparents, the Wise Council, the We-Can-Laugh-Together-Now-Because-Spanking-Is-Impractical....
Family gatherings are even more chaotic now. When you figure in spouses and children, a complete family reunion can see about forty people. The grandchildren range from adults (18+) all the way to newborn babies. Some people in the family are still thinking about increasing their own little families. Some of the grandchildren are starting their own.
We aren't all in the same stage in life, nor should we be. We have different strengths and weaknesses. We can help each other with our personal experiences and knowledge. At the core of it all, and the thing that never changed, is the fact that we are bound together by family, love and friendship.
Next Time: If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?