“I bet you and your siblings are really close, huh?” someone asks me yet again.
“Yup!” I reply. “We are!”
There’s not much use in going deeper into the topic with someone who can never relate. The moment they hear that we were homeschooled, they’ve already imagined us in our own personal one-room schoolhouse with Mother standing at the blackboard. Since friends are to be acquired at school, my siblings must be my best–or only–friends.
Truth be told, my siblings are my best and most faithful friends, and there have been short seasons (depending on where my dad’s job took us) when they were my only friends. Thankfully, through the years, many wonderful souls have come through our doors and been found to be kindred spirits. Despite the ever-looming threat of being “unsocialized,” we managed to make friends at church, on sports teams, at dance classes and in our neighborhood. However, though I am now in my twenties, I can honestly say that my siblings are still my “mostly companions.”
Later this summer, my family will welcome home yet another sister. She hails from Eastern Europe, is nine years old and has the most adorable accent. “Meggie” will make us nine. Though every large family has to make sacrifices in way of finances, privacy and parental attention, I am profoundly grateful for each one of my siblings and my brother-in-law.
Not only do we have a big, homeschooling family, but also we have been afforded a second childhood of sorts. Though our home (which we lovingly call Eyrie Park) has seen three of my siblings pack up and move away, it has seen two return and also welcomed our brother-in-law. While my older brother applies for graduate schools and my sister and her husband build a little house in our pasture, we are once again squeezing around the table and piling on the couch.
My sister and her husband, who are both renowned chefs in their own right, prepare delicious meals and introduce us to all kinds of exotic recipes. Aside from the mess, seeing one of them in the kitchen is always a good omen. Just tonight my brother-in-law, Joe whipped up a sponge cake, topped with sautéed apples and vanilla ice cream. Marie Calendar has nothing on that duo.
My brother, who is six years my senior, holds a degree in philosophy. We share a love of classic books, classic rock and witty conversation. We seem to have our best moments at one o’clock in the morning; often while we discuss the “good schedules” we’re supposedly going to put ourselves on.
Jeweliet is my youngest biological sister. She graduated high school this past spring and has opted, as I did, to forego college. Out of all the entrepreneurs in our family, she is perhaps most successful so far! Folks are always asking her to shoot their weddings, engagements or family portraits with her keen eye and truly enormous camera. I’m not sure if it’s possible for two people to be closer without being conjoined twins. We can communicate with “looks,” make inside jokes out of thin air and miss each other in the time it takes to take a shower. My decision to stay home is made infinitely more enjoyable now that she has made the same choice.
If we had all gone the traditional route and all our paths had not in fact “led back home,” none of us would be living under the same roof, more than likely. (As a side note, if my parents had also not adopted, they’d be empty-nesters right now–a thought that often amuses us.) Obviously, we all plan to leave for good one day. An “eyrie” is a type of nest, from which all birds must fledge. However, the series of events, which have brought us all back home during our early adulthood, is not something to be overlooked.
Who else, on the brink of twenty-two, can stay up late at night discussing theology or writing style or simply talking “of cabbages and kings” with their older brother? Who else, after seeing her sister start her own family, can again cook side-by-side with her or revel in a BBC miniseries in her company? Who else can watch their little sister graduate and then go on playing the same games, poking the same fun, seeking the same adventures they’ve sought their entire lives? A lucky girl is what I am.
What the next two, five or ten years hold, I really don’t know. I look forward with hopeful anticipation to a time when my youngest sister is legally ours and has settled into her own corner of Eyrie Park. I yearn for a time when the little house is finally complete and my sister can truly become a homemaker. I dream of visiting my brother at Oxford! And yet, I know I’ll look back on this strange season as one looks into a snow globe, wondering how I ever accepted such magic into my everyday routine.
We’re adults now and we’ve matured and changed, but that makes the company we share all the more enjoyable. Yes, I was homeschooled, and yes, I have eight siblings, and yes, I still live at home. Perhaps I am the happiest old spinster society ever balked at!