13 Life Lessons from Living in a Family of 10

People often ask me what it’s like to have grown up with 9 siblings.  I tell them it’s wonderful, and at the same time, it has its challenges, just like so many things in life.  But the positives outweigh any challenges.  I am blessed to have grown up in a family of ten and have the relatives I have, because I believe knowing where you come from and who your relatives are provides you with ground.  It’s a resource of knowing that you are not alone in this journey.  I also know from a spiritual perspective that this is what was meant to be because there are too many miracles that occurred to make it happen. It’s a miracle in itself to have 9 healthy siblings and to make things happen with that many people living under one roof. It takes more than your own will or intention; it takes a higher source to synchronize all that went into each day.

Just to give you a practical snapshot of what it’s like to have 5 brothers and 4 sisters (none of which are twins), let’s start with the age range.  There is a 20 year age gap between the oldest and youngest sibling.  Yes, if you average that out, my Mom was having a baby every two years.  Whenever I tell people about my mom growing up,  I picture her pregnant with a basketball belly in front of her petite frame.  When you have a twenty year gap, naturally, people go off to college and keep moving forward, so you have limited experiences with younger siblings. I like to explain it as if it was two families growing up under one roof. The first five are the older group, and the last five are the “babies.” Yes, five babies.  I had limited exposure to my younger siblings once I went to college. I knew them all very well as actual babies, but then I grew up and went to Loyola College in Maryland.

The next very common question I get is, are we all close? The question of whether we are close or not is individual to every person in my family.  Do we get together as an entire family on a regular basis? Yes. I would say this happens twice a year, which to some puts us in the category of being close. But, do I talk to any of my siblings every day like a good bit of siblings do?  No, but talking on the phone has never been my thing. There is no one in my life that I speak to on the phone every day, or even two times a week. I just do my own thing and always have.  As for relationships, of course I have siblings that I am closer to than others. I always defer to explaining it in spiritual terms, because that is just how I think.

Spiritually and energetically, we cross paths with those who energetically serve us at the right times. The difference with siblings is they are always there. Energy that is consistently around you, but not necessarily one that you will or will not connect with until the time is right.  What I find is that I go through waves of being connected to different siblings at different times. For example, I recently found out that my brother Sean is wonderful at social media. I need help in social media, so Sean helps me out.  Energetically, I had a need and the discovery came about, resulting in Sean and I getting to know each other more.  For instance, it’s just like the person you randomly meet that is perfect for what you need at the time.  This is how I see my siblings energetically. We all flow to each other as needed, yet all share the understanding that we love one another despite any challenges we may or may not have had with one another.  I have been told by a good bit of people in my life that I am a lucky girl and lucky things just happen to me.  I don’t argue this point. Perhaps that luck started from my childhood by having a plentitude of siblings within my life on a regular basis and perhaps that subconscious feeling of luck just went with me and never left because I expect it.

Now, lets get deeper into things. What is the number one lesson I have learned from being in a family of 10?  I would say I can’t give you a number one at this time. I may have a number one answer, but for now, here are my top 13 major lessons I learned from growing up with 9 siblings:

1. I learned that miracles happen every day, because they really did in our house.  Most of all, I felt that having babies around all of the time was the biggest miracle.  Children are amazing, healing souls.  They interrupt stress and provide an in-the-moment environment and it is then that you see, appreciate and notice things that you would not typically.

2.  I learned that health is the most important thing, because we were lucky to have it.  We may have had struggles, but we didn’t have health struggles and we all know of that friend or parent who died too young. To have 12 people living under one roof and not have any major life concerns is another miracle.

3.  I learned that you must pull your own weight and take care of yourself at a very young age. If you didn’t take care of yourself, you saw the consequences immediately.  If you didn’t take care of your homework, get organized, or get to bed at a reasonable hour there was no one over your shoulder telling you that you should do these things. You simply had to figure it out on your own or pay the consequences. You had to take responsibility for you and what your needs were because there was only one of my mother and ten of us.

4. I learned a great deal of parenting skills, more than most will ever learn. I have changed more diapers than most will in their lifetime. I have helped more crying kids then most will in their lifetimes, and I have shared more precious moments of being with young children and seeing their brilliance and innocence shine through than most. Parenting is innately in me because of these experiences.

5.  I learned that love does really conquer all, but there are always challenges in that love, because without the challenges we would not be learning and spiritually expanding.   I was hurt often as a child because I couldn’t make sense of a number of things, but in the end, there was a great deal of love in our home that put any discontent to the side.

6.   I learned that infants are one of the most precious things in life and that holding a infant in your arms with that smell and that calm they bring lasts about as long as  the blink of an eye.  So, hold them as long as you can because they will be running from your arms faster than you can say their name.
7.  I learned that most people don’t really know what it is to work hard and be relentless.  You must do this in a family of 10. It is taken to another level. My father and mother worked their butts off to keep our family going. They sacrificed their own comforts to give us as much as they could.  They were relentless in their belief that everything works out in long run. The needs of so many all at the same time takes “needs” to another level.
8.   I learned that everything in life, no matter how serious or intense or heartbreaking it may feel, will pass and things will get better. I often got stressed out from my school experience.  As intense as it was for me, I eventually learned that the seriousness of a situation always passed because time makes it so.
9. I learned that energy is as real as your words. I learned this by observing so many people and so many different needs. It was if I had decoding games in my head going on as to how those around me and my siblings felt.
10. I learned that we all have struggles, every single one of us no matter how things may appear and you must always remember this and treat others as best you can.  It felt as though people looked at our family as a model family.  We have good looking parents and good looking kids. It looks beautiful, but it was hard work. Every single one of us had to sacrifice something and in turn that created our own personal struggles that we each had to face.

11.  I learned that we are all really just doing our best in life, even if others aren’t happy with what doing our best is.  I think people naturally want to be the best they can be and aren’t purposely unkind or mean.  I think everyone wants to be good and be kind, whether you are a child in your terrible twos driving everyone mad or a high schooler that can’t seem to lose an attitude.
12.  I learned that intuition is one of the greatest gifts in this journey called life because it will give you the answers you seek. Intuition told me more often than not where to turn and that things would be okay, even when I couldn’t make sense of circumstances. It has revealed many wonderful things to me.

13. I learned that no matter how much you want to help someone change, you cannot change them. They must decide to change themselves.  I was in high school and I was arguing with a sibling of mine who in my eyes was acting unreasonable.  As I stood on the other side of the door arguing with them it was as if all of a sudden someone stepped in and said,  “Stop!” I took a deep breath and I said to myself, what am I doing? All of this yelling isn’t going to change anything because they don’t want to change right now. I can’t force what someone doesn’t want. I walked away peacefully and have never tried to talk sense into this sibling about this challenge of theirs since that day.

– Mo