Menopause

The Original Four (and More)


After my brother and I each grew up, got married, and had children, every now and then, I would realize that the original four of us were standing together in the kitchen: Mom, Dad, me, and Chris.

“Hey! It’s The Original Four!” I’d announce.

The others took it calmly, as I recall, but to me it was a moment to throw ourselves back to the way our family once was.

And so I’ve carried on the tradition with my girls. They have fun with it and even use the expression when writing about family gatherings on their blogs.

According to psychologists, your family of origin is oh so important. Oh no!

Once my girls were grown, I began to do the mom thing: How did I screw up my kids? They seem completely fine, but what might I have done to cause deep damage or even a bit of damage?

During Thanksgiving of her Freshman year in college, Laura sat in the kitchen with her psychology textbook in front of her: “I realize now our family isn’t that crazy after all.”

And Kath, after making friends at her first job with a guy who had huge family problems, said, “I realize you and Dad are more normal parents than I used to think.”

Those statements lack the enthusiasm of a Hallmark Mother’s Day card, but I took them in!

This Christmas, with daughters, son-in-laws, another set of grandparents, and grandchildren in tow, we went to our old house. We wanted everyone to see the house fixed up for the market, and we wanted them to get to say goodbye.

As we left, one of my girls called out: “Let’s get The Original Four.”

We stood on the porch where we’d taken photos for 34 years. You can see it above: a final old house photo of The Original Four.

But wait. Look again.

There’s baby Birch, the latest addition to the family. That’s not The Original Four after all. A foil!

And what an adorable and welcome foil that baby is.

Rejoice that your family of origin is just that. Life moves on and brings us new family members: by marriage, by birth, by friendship.

And they each give a whole new meaning to the word “original.”

14 thoughts on “The Original Four (and More)”

  1. Lovely photo! I try to have a siblings dinner each year with my sisters, brother, and the spouses. It’s hard to get 8 people to find a mutual date. My own kids are too dispersed, sadly by geography and ideology, so our last “original” photo dates back many years, before spouses and grandkids. There’s just so much one can do. Enjoy your family and of course, the new baby!

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  2. I LOVE this post!!!! I was very close to my parents and really identify with your thoughts about one’s family of origin. I also love the comments your daughters made about your parenting! Hilarious but sweet too! Last, I love that you include friends in your thoughts about family. They are the family we get to chose. Please keep on writing, Barb! It’s always good! ❤️

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  3. Beautiful picture!
    This post was very meaningful to me Barbara.
    My brother and I were at my parent’s home (without spouses) a few weeks ago for dinner. It had been years since it was just the four of us around the dinner table; the following weekend my Dad passed away.
    That dinner of four will forever be a wonderful memory for me.

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  4. This is beautiful, Barbara. So fortunate that your children found the “normalcy” in your family. I love the photo of the “new” four of you (and more)! You are so fortunate! Not all of us have a family we can reflect back on and pronounce as “normal.” But, life goes on. And joy/fulfillment in life is generated/created!! And, we can always expand our “family” to make that happen! Love to you, Phyllis

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    1. Hey Phyllis, Fun to hear from you as always. I’m not sure our family is that normal, but then again, who is to know for sure. But good the girls think we were relatively normal. Although normal can be dull too, I guess. Ha! I guess it’s finding the right balance…

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