Modern Hydra (#372)

I have a lot of siblings. How many is a lot? Depends on how you categorize them. I have some related through both parents, some related through one parent, some step-siblings, some ex-step-siblings, and some…whatever you call the children of a current spouse of an ex-step-parent.

One summer, when traveling to the East Coast (where all of the sibs live except for one), my son asked me how many cousins he had. I tried to list them and lost track around 20.

“Hang on,” I told him Dalton. “I’m gonna need a piece of paper.”

My husband Andy snorted and said, “What you need is Big Brother’s PowerPoint.” Andy is VERY SALTY about this particular PowerPoint. It details all the marriages, divorces, and offspring (super helpful in figuring out who is related to whom…and which parties should be seated on opposite sides of a banquet hall). Big Brother made the PowerPoint for Lawyer Sister’s boyfriend after Andy and I were already engaged. Andy never misses a chance to point out that HE had to learn my entire fractured family without the cheat sheet offered to all subsequent spouses.

“I don’t think Big Brother ever updated the PowerPoint with the cousins,” I told Andy, before turning back to Dalton. “Where were we? Baby L1 or Baby L2?”

Dalton waved me off. “Never mind. I don’t care that much.”

“I feel you, buddy,” said Andy. “Mom’s family is so much easier to figure out with a VISUAL AID.”

******

In recent years, Big Brother discovered something he likes even more than PowerPoint: group chats.

He started off small, with Doctor Sis, Lawyer Sis, and me. We would brainstorm for group gifts for various parental units. Sometimes we shared first day of school pictures for our kids or asked for book recommendations. Sometimes they would brag about how many miles they ran and I’d tell them they were all crazy, that the dog and I were currently WALKING a very sane three miles.

This is a pear liqueur lime gimlet. Or so I am told.

Then the chat morphed into pictures of their cocktails, where recipes were shared by everyone except me, because I hate the taste of alcohol. Sometimes I’d share a picture of a glass of green liquid. My siblings would be all excited until I told them it was Gatorade.

“I dunno why you lushes even have me on this chat,” I once said, after Doctor Sis shared a pink drink topped by chickpea foam.

“We just didn’t want you to feel left out,” my sisters insisted. Which was very sweet, since I often felt like I missed a lot living so far away.

I stayed in the chat, but muted it in self-defense once they started exchanging memes at 6 AM (which is 3 AM Pacific Time). Sometimes I would wake up to 37 messages sparked by Big Brother telling us how his dog ate his own poop.

Then Big Brother began creating other chats, adding more siblings or parental units. My phone would ding! relentlessly while I scrolled in search of the new chats and hit “hide alerts.” Then Big Brother would realize he’d forgotten someone, create another new chat, and ding! ding! ding!

I once got added to a group chat in 2023 filled with numbers I didn’t recognize and the message: “Welcome to Tuscany Cycling Trip 2024!”

I don’t even own a bike. I texted a number I knew in the chat—Dr. Sis—with “WTF?”

Which is how I found out that Dr. Sis, Big Brother, Ex-Stepbrother, and all their spouses were planning an epic biking trip to Italy. I probably would have been more excited for them if I’d gotten my morning cappuccino before the explosion of texts.

Text chats plateaued after that. Until their kids got older and Big Brother started adding in the cousins. Different cousins for different chats, of course. Yesterday alone, two new chats  groups were created.

Ding! Madness.

I’m currently hobbling around with knee injuries (another post!) and you might think I’d be happy to get interaction and see everyone’s holiday photos.

A nicer person might feel that way, yes.

I’m not nice.

I’m cranky. I can’t even walk 50 feet. There’s pain from the injury and pain from compensating. Andy has taken over my beloved morning walk with the dog. Dalton has taken over the evening walk. All summer plans are canceled. Aside from swimming laps (arms only!) I’m mostly stuck at home while waiting on a specialist to tell me how much mobility I can expect to get back.

So when Dr. Sis sent photos of her beaming with her bike after her 17 mile, pre-Italy ride, I did the unthinkable.

I LEFT THE CHAT.

But don’t worry.

I’m sure there will be another one tomorrow.