Families are a Mixed Blessing

May 16, 2007

by Melbo

Remember in God’s Army when the missionaries taught a man a discussion in his backyard? The man seemed interested until they got to the part about how families can be together forever; then you heard a woman and some children screeching in the background. The man looked at the Elders and said something along the lines of “You mean I’ll be with my family forever? Why would I want that?” I may be purged for blasphemy by saying this, but I think there are times that even the best Mormons can relate.

Families are a mixed blessing. They drive you crazy, but they keep you sane. Take mine for example. Imagine 8 people in a minivan built for 7 on their annual trek to Utah. It’s 1400 miles each way, it’s August, and there is no air conditioning. Oh, and no one touch my sister or she’ll freak out. (Okay, so it was only that bad one year, but that’s the year I remember the best.) There were no portable DVD players back then—not that we could afford one anyway—so those ridiculously long car rides are not only where we tortured each other, but where got to know one another. I still remember some of the songs we sang, the jokes we told and how we sneaked off our seatbelts and curled up together. We (the children) started as enemies, but became friends, and those friendships have saved me more than once.

I’m number five of six kids (That’s right, SIX kids… My parents were extremely obedient; no one can accuse them of not “multiplying and replenishing” the earth). We were hellions, too. Running through the neighborhood, fighting over everything, and bringing home all kinds of animals (There were so many acquisitions I think we ran out of names. Among them were a one-eyed dog named Dog and a cat named Kitty.). God bless my parents for putting up with our antics and keeping us alive, especially my little brother and I. We were the babies and our method of survival was to lie low. We stuck together like penguins, but even that didn’t always keep us out of harms way. We still turned into slaves when the older ones “babysat” and my sister managed too often to pin me down and drool into my mouth.

I have my brothers and sisters to thank for many things, such as saving me from boring sacrament meetings. When my mom’s lap wasn’t available for a nap, together we made little people out of toilet paper and played tic-tac-toe on my arm. My sister got up once and bore her testimony on “why God has a sense of humor” where she basically recited an entire Bill Cosby routine. That story never gets old. I should also thank my siblings for keeping me humble. Until I was eight, they collectively told me that I was adopted from the moon. And throughout my preteen years of glasses and headgear, my sisters and their friends jibed me about going though an ‘ugly stage’ (in their defense I was). Even now, when they still tease me with nicknames like “Missy-Pissy,” I keep coming back because, well, I love them… and perhaps I’m a little masochistic.

Ultimately, I have many more good memories than bad, they’re just not as funny. My family has pulled me out of my darkest times and been there for my brightest. I know much of this is due to the testimonies and hard work of my parents. They joined the church as a young married couple and haven’t faltered since. Right now, we children are all experiencing our own Various Stages of Mormondom, from complete inactivity to recently re-baptized, but none have been abandoned. My parents taught us about unconditional love and acceptance through their examples. And at the end of the day, mixed blessings aside, that’s a big reason why I think we’re all alright with the idea of together forever.


  1. Your blog makes me very reminiscent of many wonderful and not so wonderful sibling moments that should be recorded for children and grandchildren … it IS pretty wonderful to have a group of people who “have to” love you no matter what.

  2. Well Alice… now that I think about it… our families were once cramped in close quarters together for months on end. I seem to remember you and my sister staging a mock-wedding and forcing your little sister and me to get married. Oh the fun you had…

  3. OH I remember the cramped in close quarters —
    I remember identifying with Anne Frank’s house!!

    However, I don’t remember the wedding, it might be true. I demand proof (Got pictures?)

  4. I loved the annual trips to Utah. Imagine a 3 day trip, 7 kids, two adults, and a station wagon. I grew up in the days before mini vans, portable DVD players, baby car seats, or seat belt laws. It is a miracle we all lived to tell the tale. The three of the kids would have to lay on top of the luggage in the back to make us all fit. We would set up our pillows and chant “territory, territory” to ensure our spot, and each time a border was violated, the chant would start up again until it was resolved. Oh the good times. Thanks for bringing that all back…

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