So here's the family of 4 that I grew up in!
There was my Mom, of course. When I was about 9 years old she became a single Mom of 3 children. As I sit now about to have my 3rd child, I couldn't even imagine. And not just any 3 kids - me (although I attest until I hit 15 that I was probably not the much of a handful), my middle brother Jason right in his teenage years (ha!), and my oldest brother Eric, who while he fiercly tries to maintain independence, will always be reliant on my Mom because of his limited abilities. I think that the biggest thing I could say about my Mother would be that she accomplished her goal . . . she has always said that no matter what we had or didn't have, as long as we always knew we were loved unconditionally by her than we would be okay . . . and I don't think any of the 3 of us have a doubt in our minds that we can always turn to our Mother without fail . . . we might not always like the answer, but she will always be there to give one :)
Then there is my oldest brother Eric. Technically he is my half brother since we have different fathers . . . but I don't think even once in my life I introduced him this way. It was just the way our family was - we had different dads - so what!? Eric was born hydrocephalic, and unfortunately in 1968 that meant a very different thing than it does today. Because of the fluid on his brain, he also has tunnel vision (imagine looking through a paper towel tube and never having peripheal vision). Eric loves the Beatles, Jimmy Buffet, license plate numbers, a very detailed list of specific television shows . . . he never curses or says a bad word about anyone . . . I will say that my oldest brother is truly the only person I know of on this planet that has a 100% good heart, has not been corrupted by any outside influences, and does not comprehend malicious qualities or character traits. He is as close to holy as the pope my friends . . . truly!
And finally, my middle brother, Jason. He too is technically my half brother - but again, so what?! Both boys were there the day I was born and have always been in my life - they are my brothers . . . Jason and I were 6 1/2 years apart - actually, there is around 6 years between each of us - my Mom spaced us out a little! So naturally, when Jayson was a teenager, I was an annoying little sister to tag along. To say we did our fair share of fighting would be a serious understatement! I think my top 2 memories of said fighting would be the day I called him a bastard, not knowing what the word meant, and I then ran fearing my life. The 2nd would be the time he had me stick my finger in a limb trimmer and then dropped it nearly severing my finger! But we lived and by the time I was around 17 we became friends :) Jason and I are so very different, but we have a few likenesses that we share . . . but really, mostly very different. Our clear surface differences right now - we live in a small town and are about to have 3 children. Jason and my sister in law have no children and love living in Atlanta. He is my older brother and I know that I can turn to him and always feel protected . . . but it seems as we get older the age difference between us diminishes . . . and if he ever has a child, I will get to feel like the knowledgeable older sibling! ha!
So that's it . . . the family of 4 I grew up in!
The fabulous thing about getting married though?! You get a whole new family - and all the good and bad that goes along with that . . . I mean, what family isn't disfunctional?! And who doesn't look at someone else's family and think "Geez, I thought my family was weird?!" ha! If you look in the pic at the top, my college graduation, you can see the long haired hippie in the background that became the man that expanded my family! I would have to say that the best addition I gained was my MIL! You can't imagine having a friend that loves you, but also knowing that friend will always love your kids, and your husband, probably as much as you do! It's priceless :) Now that I am having a son I wonder if I will be able to love and accept a daughter in law like she has . . . we'll just plan on her still being around so she can explain how she did it! haha