Our family is big. For some, very big, for others, normal big. For others, more rare, small big.
I am one of 25 cousins, who were born to 6 sisters. 5 of these 25 cousins don't have children (yet). The others have from one to 5 each. Some of my cousins' children have children.
It's just about 100 of us when we are together. We all know each other's first names, and the baby's names too.
Out of the 25 cousins, (12 girls and 13 boys), 10 girls and 2 boys live in Paris.
So we meet regularly. We love catching up. We laugh. We tell dirty jokes. We have a family blog. We tease each other. We fight. Some of our spouses don't really enjoy the get-togethers, but they don't pull us back. They let us have this 'family bath' regularly. They know we need it. And if there happens to be a falling apart, they pick up the pieces.
So. Three of us were talking indepth last night about why and how we all came to be what we are, women with no more ambition than raising our children the best we could, some of us with jobs, but nothing realling thrilling.
At some point, my aunt, the oldest sister, sat with us and commented how lovely it was to watch us from afar, observing our 'feminine' moves. My cousin was playing with her necklace and twirling it around. My sister was rubbing a nail with her fingers, softly. I was playing with my earrings.
This was our answer, wasn't it? She was not terribly interested in what we were talking about. She was watching us and liked what she saw...
We were brought up to be pretty wives. This was the typical upbringing as in 'You are a princess and will marry the prince and have lots of children' (by the way, did you know that the french ending to a fairy tale goes "they got married, lived happily and had lots of children"?) They were 6 sisters raised to run and check their hair and hands and face when their father was announced by his car turning into the driveway. They were raised to chat and entertain and have meaningless conversation with anyone. ("And by the way, don't talk about your children, dear, nobody is interested but you," was my grandmother's recommendation.)
And you know what? My aunt's comment was lovely. She said it with a big smile. She was admiring. She was proud. And we smiled at her and made some room for her to sit with us. I am not sure we resumed our conversation though!
It had, it has, its lovely moments. I find it extremely difficult to reconcile the happiness to be part of this family and the way some things are considered necessary without being questionned.
In fact, a bit of digging brings out the discovery that we all question it. But we all want to be part of the fun, the warmth, the family, so we don't openly question it.
I wear jeans at these open house parties, but I throw some make up on, I try to remember necklaces and earrings. And if I forget, I get looks. And I have to accept that, because I want to be a part of it, no matter what.
There is more to say. I wanted to talk about my grandmother, and about the warmth and the friendship of cousins and sisters, and about holiday memories. So there will be more.. with some photos I hope.