Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sunday Favorites # 20- Rerun of an oldie-The Bakers Dozen

Sunday Favorites is a meme that allows us to drag one of our old posts out of mothballs and into the light of a new day. After all, only so many posts can be on the first page and once they move down the stack they are seldom ever looked at again.

You can check out this Sunday meme at Happy to Design hosted by Chari. Heck, you might find some great stuff to read. Now for my re-run of an old post.

I once had another blog written under a pen name that I used to post stories relating to my life in a large family. I soon found that I could not keep up with two blogs so I stopped posting to the other one. This is a reprint of one of those post.

The Bakers Dozen

Whenever I am asked the question “how many brothers and sisters do you have?” and I respond with something like, “I am the oldest of thirteen” I get this look from people that can only be described as completely incredulous.

Growing up in a time and place where large families were more the norm I always thought the reaction was rather odd. As I got out into the world, I learned just how rare my family and my community really were, but even now that first time reaction still catches me by surprise.
Taken about 1972

When I first starting getting involved with single’s websites after I was widowed and going to single’s get-together’s, I found I was hesitant to say how many siblings I had out of fear that any prospective date would be put off. I finally reached the point where my large family was the first thing I mentioned about myself. If knowing my immediate family consisted of more than sixty people and was still growing did not have the gentleman shaking in his boots then I knew I wasn't wasting my time.

Usually, one of the first questions I am asked is, “What is it like growing up with that many people and only one bathroom?” Somehow I do not remember the bathroom situation as ever being a major problem, but then, for quite a while we used a privy sitting at the edge of the backyard.

What I do remember is going through many phases while growing up. I had my Cinderella phase, where I felt destined to be an ugly duckling of a spinster slaving away, caring for a house full of ungrateful men. I did, after all, have nine brothers and it often seemed the rule book was biased toward the males of the household.

I also went through my enlightenment phase, where I just wanted to take my parents and shake some sense into them. Didn’t they know where all those babies came from? Or how to prevent them? Didn’t they know how much it would cost to educate all of us? Didn’t they care that others thought we were poor and deprived? Hadn’t they read about the benefits of population control?

Then, of course, I had one totally embarrassing phase where every time I was out somewhere with a group of my youngest siblings, someone would mistake them for mine. At seventeen, did I really look old enough to have six kids? Once, at the grocery store, I had the task of watching the little ones while my mother shopped. I lined them all up stair step fashion on the brick ledge in front of the widow by the doorway with some candy. Folks entering the store would often stop and make some comment on how cute they all were, or just shake their heads in amazement. I lost count of how many times someone asked me if they were all mine. Finally, I reached my breaking point. The next unlucky lady that asks that question received a curt “yes they are all mine, and to be truthful I left the youngest at home with my husband.”

Well, I though the poor woman was going to swallow her teeth.

When I was pregnant with my first child my mother was pregnant with her last child. The reactions of people when one of us would introduce the other to them and say this is my “mother” or “daughter” and they would look from one swollen belly to the other their expression was sometimes priceless.

Due to the closeness in age of my daughter and my baby brother, it was not uncommon, for me to be out with both children. I was often asked if they were twins. When I would respond “NO, they are uncle and niece” the reaction would make me wish I had a camera handy. Occasionally, someone would respond with a smart remark like “Yea, and I am ( fill in the blank) or “Yeah, sure, sorry for asking.”

Truthfully, looking back from my vantage point as an old retired gal I would not want to go back and change a thing. My brothers and sisters have always been the most loving and supportive people in my life. Sure, they are sometimes the biggest pain as well. But, it’s a good kind of Pain.

With only one exception, we still all live within twenty miles of our mother. One of my brothers is just four houses down the street from me and a sister is a ten minute walk away. The first time I went on a date after my husband died I came home to find my answering machine flashing like a Christmas tree with messages from my siblings wanting to know who the man was I had been seen having dinner with.

Small towns, ya gotta love em.


  1. I do like these trips back to old blogs. My wife's mother was one of twelve and her father was one of thirteen and I have often wondered what it would be like to come from a big family (I am one of two and Isobel is one of one). Now I know.

  2. Rita,

    This was so much fun to read (and you do write well!). Your answers to the curious people were lol funny!! I am so happy tht all of you live close and share the good times and bad and are company for one another.

    I grew up in a family of 7. My mom went to my brother's college graduation pregnant with my youngest sister!! Now we are all spread out. But we are all birds of a feather.

    Lovely post, Rita!!


  3. Priceless! ...
    Don't think I'll ever tire of "hearing" (your) family stories, Rita!

  4. Love the story- my SIL has a nephew who is only a few months younger than she is! Folks in her small town laughed at mom and daughter-in-law, too. Late in life baby and first baby are still quite close! Your story is well written- loved your sassy come-back comments!
    :-) Sue

  5. I love this entry! What fun! My mother grew up in a family with 12 children and I've so often heard such similar stories from her. Unfortunately I am an only child - I was always so jealous growing up hearing those stories!

    Hope you had a great time at your family event tonight. I left some messages over at the challenge. Be prepared, I'll probably post another one tomorrow! :-)

  6. I love the stories...Hope you will stop by and visit my new Christmas blog. There is a great giveaway that ends Monday night...

  7. Hi Rita...

    So sorry that I'm getting by so's been a busy holiday weekend at our place! So happy that you joined in with Sunday Favorites again this week, my friend...I really enjoyed reading about your large family!!! I'm just sure that you experienced family life in a way that many of us didn't! I especially loved reading about your first date and the answering machine being all lit up with family calls! Hehe! Oh yes...small towns and big you could never get away with anything! Hehe! I just giggled reading about it!!!

    Thank you so much for joining in with Sunday Favorites...this was a great post, my friend!

    Warmest wishes,


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