When I think about what matters most to me, family is usually number one. My husband and kids, my mom and dad, my siblings, and my friends who are basically like family. Respectively, my identity is interwoven within my sibling relationships. We have always been a tight-knit bunch with more inside jokes than we could ever count. New people usually end up feeling overwhelmed around us because we finish each other sentences and make unintelligible sounds that send us into fits of nonstop laughter. The combination of being homeschooled and growing up in a predominantly white church has probably given us material for the rest of our lives. But that’s for another post…
Two brothers and two sisters. Thats what I say when people ask me how many siblings I have, and I’m always proud to say so. Living so far away from home during the biggest moments of my life (kids, house, job) shapes so much of my adulthood, and has actually deepened our bond. Unquestionably, it is frustrating and depressing. I have missed so many family events and moments that, at times, I have to disengage from social media around holidays and all the fun festivals at home in NOLA. However, when we do get together, it’s (bitter) sweet. We always pick up where we left off, and I feel like my “whole” self again.
My sisters and I have a running chat in Messenger, which is essentially the equivalent of lounging around in the den at home talking about everything and nothing all at once. They are simply irreplaceable. On top of being beautiful and unbelievably talented, they are two of the strongest people I know. We can talk to each other without fear of judgment. We can report what’s currently happening in front of us and have a big laugh about it, all while we’re in three different locations. I can just send a screenshot of something on social media, and they will understand my feelings instantly. My brothers and I connect in the same way on social media and laugh about the kids, fantasy football, songs, TV shows, memes…and anything else we can mock or imitate. Besides being handsome (don’t get big-headed you two), they are strong, intelligent, responsible, and kind. Anyone who meets them can’t help but start a conversation, because to know them is to love them. We function as a unit while all still having our individual personalities and quirks. (Thanks to our parents 🙂
Becoming a mother has both changed and enhanced our connection. It hurts me to realize how much my kids are missing with being around their aunts and uncles on a regular basis. But similar to when we reunite as siblings, it’s priceless to watch them recognize the faces from pictures and feel the connection to their NOLA family. Each time we visit, they’re that much more comfortable and willing to open up and share the details of their little lives. Sometimes I wonder if it would be this way had we all lived closer during these early years of parenthood, or if the distance somehow helps to keep everything fresh and new?
Then I remember that I spent over half of my life being in close proximity to my siblings, and I loved it. So when I visit home, it never gets old. Each time, I try to ignore the bittersweet feeling that it is all temporary and we will have to return to our regular lives eventually. Consequently, having lived away for nearly 6 years now, I have grown into my role as mom and wife, and become accustomed to doing things as my husband and I see fit. When things get tough, I try to maintain the perspective that I am blessed to have parents to miss, brothers to clown with, and sisters to count on. Likewise, my kids are so fortunate to have the best uncles and aunts in the world, who love them as though they are their own. Family has always been special to me, and now that I’ve experienced so many life events without them in an unfamiliar place, I treasure them above all. In the hard times of living here, I know that I am loved by those who matter.
Through all the complications of adulthood, travel, heartaches, and differences, we are and always will be, the Clark gang.
Uncle Preston, Uncle Farren, T-Nita, and T-Joy: I love and miss y’all.