‘You never step in the same family twice.’
Apologies to Heraclitus, for mangling (er, adapting) his line. He said something like ‘No man steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.’ I’d actually never heard of Heraclitus till I googled that quote, which I had floating around in my head. (Um, brief aside: Am I the only one who thinks ‘Heraclitus’ sounds a tad, well, unseemly? Or do I just have jet lag?)
See, last Thursday was my Little Brother Doug’s birthday (he’s the guy squirming in my lap in the picture at the top of this post.) And last Friday I got to go out west to visit our Mutual Mother, who now lives in a quaint little town on the Oregon Coast. But no more of that for now.
On the endless plane ride out there, I got to thinking that, since I am almost 12 years older, Doug and I were, for all intents and purposes, raised in completely different families. (Those of you who’ve been along for my Blog Ride know by now that I am the oldest of five: Scott/Me are the Big Kids, Laura/Doug are the Little Kids, and Roger is stuck in the Middle Kid position.)
My Henry Family moved around. To Kentucky, where we lived above a garage, to Memphis, where I developed a (short-lived) Southern accent and a liking for RC Cola and Moon Pies, to Carlyle. Where Doug’s Henry Family stayed put, after Doug himself got added on.
I had the Dad Who Went to Korea. Doug had the Dad Who Went Into Business:
I had the outings to the grocery store in a little red wagon. He had the outings on the Houseboat, on the lake that did not even exist when I was a kid (It was Lake Carlyle, an Army Corps of Engineers project). Oh. The name of the boat? ‘Sir Launch-a-Lot’. Honest.
Now, don’t get me wrong. These comparisons are not made for I-had-it-harder-than-you purposes (well, okay, maybe a teensy bit). But, if, like me, you were raised in a Big Family, you’ll get my drift. Not only were we Big Kids raised in a different familial environment than the Little Kids (hence the Heraclitus* quote), but we left the Nest before we could really get to know each other very well.
I did get to bounce Doug on my lap and change his diapers (hence the B-Team Mom reference), but that’s not the same as running around together at dusk catching fireflies or building couch-pillow forts when it’s raining out.
*I just like to keep repeating ‘Heraclitus’, for some wacky reason
About the closest bonding experience Doug and I had (not counting my B-Team-Momming) was when I was a Homecoming Queen Candidate, and he was a Page. There was a Girl Page, too, but she’s not in this badly-reproduced photo from the CHS Tomahawk—proof that Doug and I did share at least one High School Memory. Though I was the only one in high school at the time:
Here is another (rare) shot of Doug and me in the same place at the same time, my graduation from the University of Missouri:
To further verbally underline the Age Difference and Different Childhood themes, note that at the time of Doug’s own college graduation I had not only left the Nest, but I’d gotten married, divorced, moved to New York, and got married—again.
So, Doug My Bro. Except for the time that you crayoned ‘DOIEP’ on the carport walls and blamed it (natch) on Middle-Child Roger, and the time that you wished you had hair on your legs instead of prickly heat, I hardly knew ye. But it’s sure been fun to getting to know you as a Responsible Adult. Though, never forget that this is how you’ll always remain in my mind’s eye:
Thank you for reading. And if you’d like more Henry Lore, please feel free to click on the ‘Growing Up Lutheran’ link in the sidebar.
New York City. April 2015
23 thoughts on “Confessions of a B-Team Mom”
Sky blue head.
Hah! Totally Sky Blue!
Thanks so much for the moving birthday tribute! I think this is the first time I’ve been blogged about (sniff!). Hmm ,, that head – bonking game described by Scott does explain those early photos where my forehead appears blue!! Oddly I remember nothing…
Ah, Doug! So glad you enjoyed this. I certainly ‘dug’ writing it, just as I’ve had fun getting to know you better as the years have gone by. And I’m not a bit surprised you remember nothing about those head games! xoxo
As an only child, I’d sought out families such as yours in my neighborhood and camouflaged myself in them, LL. Ultimately, I’ve married the second in the line of succession and oldest daughter of a good ‘recovering Catholic’ family of six. I believe Steve, their sole brother survived only because he was born first.
Thank you for reading, and for commenting, Mark! I am so glad you found a nice large family in which to nest. In my LL-stranded-in-an-all-Catholic-town experience, family’s such as your wife’s are somewhat unusual. The ‘sole brother’ is usually the youngest, since the parents kept on ‘trying’ till they hit the Male Jackpot (!)
Thanks for a fun glimpse into large family life. My brother is four years older, so we were close enough to love/hate each other through childhood. My husband is the baby of his family by twelve years. I’m sure he can relate to Doug!
Sending you thanks for reading (and commenting!) as well as a big shout-out to your husband. Yes, I bet he can relate to Doug (!)
Happy birthday, Doug! I know how smart you are … you survived Scott’s bouncing ball game just fine!
Thanks, Ruth! Yes, that Doug had/has one hard Henry Head. Can’t tell you how many times the thickness of my own Henry skull has saved me pain, if not embarrassment (!)
Ha, it wasn’t just me to find Heraclitus suggestive. It is pronounced, though, Her-ah-cly-tis…
Oooooo, thanks! But I am SO not saying that out loud. Not even in front of Wombat, The Cat (!)
My favorite Doug memory involves bouncing plastic balls off his head as he stood and gripped the rail of his crib. If you angled it just right, the ball would spring from his head right to Roger, in the bed across the room, who would return it the same way.
All of us (including Doug) would laugh, and Doug would jump around so his head was harder to find in the low light.
Ah! I forgot to mention The Dougster’s Sky-Blue Head! I had no idea that it performed a function other than being stunningly and uniquely hued (!)
Well you certainly had a big enough target with the Doug Head!
My dad was the second oldest in a family of 8. My Wife’s mom was one of 10 and my wife’s dad was one of 17. The oldest had moved out by the time youngest came along. But, like you and Doug, came to know each other better as adults. Happy Birthday Doug!
Love it! My Dad was one of 8, my mom one of 5…and The Dude one of 6. Big Families were SO much fun. And yes, it is great getting to know Baby Doug. Thank you for taking the time out of your own busy Dad Schedule to comment (!)
Doug and I have parallel families, both the youngest of five. There’s only eight years between me and my oldest sib but we still had that Big Kids/Middle Kid/Little Kids dynamic. My sister Sue and I used to actually dress up as grownups and play “Peggy and Donny” (aka Big Kids). Ha! Thanks for the Doug stories!
Hah! I can just picture you two dressing up and playing ‘Peggy and Donny’ (even though I don’t actually know Peggy and Donny). Seriously, thanks for reading, and enjoying. I love the few Doug stories that I have, and it has indeed been fun getting to know him better over the years!
Ok, yes, to the Hericlitus, um, word. Agree. A tad suggestive, perhaps? And when will you write a book, dear friend? I am waiting. xo
Thank you, Friend Lisa! I write (and live) for such lovely encouragement (!) As for a book, I’m kind of hoping that these stories build themselves into one. We’ll see.
Were you in my family?
Hahahaha! I guess you can relate. Thanks for your comment (!)