24/30 Things: Fam

{To know what I’m talking about, and to see past 30 Things posts, start here…}

24. Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.


2009, two babies have been born since this picture…
As a child I was somewhat . . . difficult.  I was hyperactive and dramatic and opinionated and selfish and insecure.  Needless to say I was a strain on my parents’ nerves.  But they loved me and love me and because of their consistent encouragement and attentiveness over the years I turned out relatively normal as an adult.  But when I was a kid I felt very alone, and that started from a pretty young age.  

When I was in preschool I drew a picture of my family.  I was in the corner, as tiny as can be, and my sister Andee was portrayed as a medusa-like monster, taking up most of the page.  She may have even been eating some of the other family members, I forget.  But I didn’t get along with any of my sisters, really.  At all.  There was still an unspoken loyalty between all of us through the years, though, as long as we didn’t “borrow” each other’s clothes.  No matter how much we fought, we knew that family was the most important thing in the world and could never deny the respect we had for our father and adoration we had for our mother.

My relationship with Andee didn’t start getting good until she graduated high school and left for Southern Utah on a tennis scholarship.  I didn’t realize how much I would miss her, and quickly became quite homesick for her with her absence.  In fact, we became unexplainably close despite the distance between us.  Ellie and I still “hated” each other, mainly because of clothes, but would do anything for each other at the end of the day.  Once I graduated high school Ellie and I became a lot closer, too.

Andee and I lived together my first few semesters of college and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to describe how much she helped me during that time.  I became very depressed and felt more alone than ever, but knew Andee was my best friend and loved me no matter what.  But I couldn’t bare BYU alone when she decided to leave me for the Hungarians for 18 months, so I moved home again.  Ellie and I became a lot closer then, but still snuck each other’s clothes and fought like babies.

The real turning point for my relationship with my family was when I decided to leave home for the Irish for 18 months.  As I taught people about how families could be together forever I couldn’t help but feel desperate to have mine forever, too, and wanted more than anything to cherish them and keep them sacred in my heart.  I missed a lot while I was gone–two weddings, a pregnancy, a heart attack–and never appreciated my family more.  

But when I got home things were different.  My older sister was married and 9 months pregnant, my little sister was married and moving all around the country, my older brother and his wife were in California at med school, my youngest sister was older all of a sudden, but still young enough that we didn’t really connect, and my younger brother was almost seven feet tall and more opinionated than ever.  Suddenly I felt alone again, because I was the only one in my family in the stage of life I was in.  No one could relate with me.  

Over the next several years there were glimpses of what life would be like once we were all in the same stage of life.  I would bring boys home for Sunday dinner and relished the idea of having my own husband by my side at the table like my sisters did.  But that didn’t happen for quite a while.  Meanwhile Andee and Ellie were best friends because they had experienced such similar things while I was in Ireland and they grew into wives and mothers together, leaving me in the dust.  Thank heavens for my mother, who was always my best friend and confidant and cheerleader.  She was my savior during that time of loneliness and heartbreak.

And here we are now–all wives and all mommies, just waiting for Kelsey {sister #4} to join us.  I can’t help but think of how she feels, though.  We don’t mean to leave her out but we are very much in different stages of life.  It’s hard to steer the conversations away from saggy post-breast feeding boobs and steamy date nights with the husbands, which are topics Kels is less than thrilled to engage in.  We love her so much, though, and are stunned at how beautiful and histarically funny she is.  She’s graduating high school this year and we all know how much closer we seem to get once that happens…eeeep!!

Meanwhile, we have all–sisters, brothers, parents, nephews, niece–become quite obsessed with each other.  We are fiercely loyal and honestly believe the individual members of our family can do no wrong.  Of course that’s not true, but we are always on each other’s side.  After all, what do you have if you don’t have family?  And what do you have if you do have family?  Everything.

Tune in next time: If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?


  1. Andee says:

    Jess I LOVED this post. You so beautifully summarized our family dynamics over the years. I didn’t really realize until now that this is how things developed but it’s true and I’m SO GLAD we’re all obsessed with each other now! LOVE YOU!

  2. Andee says:

    Jess I LOVED this post. You so beautifully summarized our family dynamics over the years. I didn’t really realize until now that this is how things developed but it’s true and I’m SO GLAD we’re all obsessed with each other now! LOVE YOU!

  3. Tonya says:

    I love love love this post! What an amazing talent you have with writing…you keep me coming back for more all the time!

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