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.

The Dogs of Christmas (#242)

When I was a little girl, my mother organized caroling and a party on Christmas Eve. We sang our way around the block in Washington D.C. We were met with universal delight. Those were magical times

My Ex-Stepmother carried on the tradition in the suburbs of D.C. and then New England.

Until I dated a guy from rural Tennessee over the holiday season, I never thought some people might find caroling…odd.

Continue reading The Dogs of Christmas (#242)

Weary of Boys (#235)

I always knew my husband and I would have a boy. An ultrasound at 21 weeks proved I was right.

Usually I love being right.

Not this time. Continue reading Weary of Boys (#235)

Gender & Preference (#231)

Parents always say they don’t have a favorite child.

Everyone eventually learns that’s bullshit. I knew it earlier than most. I have four baby siblings, born anywhere from 9-12 years after me. And hell, yeah, I had a favorite.

Pretty Space Cadet Sister spat up on everything as a baby. She was not my favorite. Continue reading Gender & Preference (#231)

The Matter with Kids (#201)

I’m convinced that most American parents didn’t realize how much work raising a kid was when they decided to have one.

 If they did, we’d have a negative birthrate.

Having a child changes your life irrevocably, in that you will have at least eighteen years with no life. A good parent prioritizes their child’s needs, especially during infancy. They endure a constant state of deprivation: sleep deprivation, cleanliness deprivation, time deprivation, and quiet deprivation.

If you think I know this because my parents were such awesome role models, you must be a new reader. Continue reading The Matter with Kids (#201)

Chocolate Thievery (#186)

A big family and not quite enough food can mess you up for life. My sisters and I learned to eat fast, hunching protectively over our plates. But no matter how fast we ate, Big Brother would finish first. Then he’d inevitably loom over us, asking, “Are you gonna eat that?”

If our mouths were too full to answer, he’d take that as a no.

Fork duels ensued. Continue reading Chocolate Thievery (#186)

When the Cavalry Sucks (#181)

You know those big, dysfunctional but lovable white families you used to see in television and film? They were all about siblings being super shitty to each other. Yet when one member of the family was threatened, the family closed ranks and fended off the attacker.

I grew up in a huge, white, broken, dysfunctional family.

I thought those stories were bullshit. Continue reading When the Cavalry Sucks (#181)

Stocking Savior (#164)

My family collects college degrees. We have some BAs, a lot of BS, an MD, a JD, an MBA, a MSW, an MFA, and a Masters of Education. Big Brother added second MBA when he married. Judgmental Genius Doctor Sister married a second lawyer. I brought the most, though, when I added Andy — a Masters of Engineering AND a Masters in Cyber Security (so, HA, you Russian hackers, give up attacking my website already).

I think the only degree we missed was a PhD. Bummer. Continue reading Stocking Savior (#164)

Hearts & Turkeys (#96)

IMG_4955I took a boyfriend home for Thanksgiving at my Ex-Stepfather’s house. Once. Ethan came from a small, immigrant family and thought my description of tons of food, alcohol, card games, and siblings sounded awesome.

“Mostly we play Hearts,” I warned him. “It’s brutal.”

“Hearts? Cool. I’m good at Hearts.” Continue reading Hearts & Turkeys (#96)

Turkey Chase (#94)

The Bethesda Turkeys warm up.
The Bethesda Turkeys warm up.

My siblings and I once celebrated Thanksgiving in the traditional fashion. We met at my Ex-Stepfather’s house in the DC suburbs and pigged out. Family members brought appetizers and wine. (A LOT of wine.) Drinking, eating, and cards started around noon. Football games played on the living room TV. The turkey was usually served by 4 PM. Dishes were finished around 7. Our exercise consisted of a slow walk around the neighborhood about 7:30.

Big Brother’s Wife wrecked our tradition of sloth and gluttony. Continue reading Turkey Chase (#94)