Family Pictures

I’m away, attending a family celebration, with two of my three brothers, most of my nieces and nephews, my mom and some of my aunts. Last night, one brother toasted the other. I was sitting next to a friend of the honored brother, to whom I’d been introduced, and after the toast, he turned to me, confused, and said, “who are you, again?”

My youngest brother has a habit of telling stories from before I was born, so from his toast, the guy got the impression that there were three boys in our family. There were. And just two weeks short of 11 years later, I came along. My two older brothers never forget to mention me, but I’ve mentioned it to the youngest multiple times, now. Maybe every youngest child feels this way, but I’m about over feeling like an afterthought or an also-ran. And whether it should be or not, it’s a thing, for me.

I went up to him a little while later and said “seriously, I need to start showing up in the family pictures. I know I missed the first 10 years, but I’ve been here almost 40, and I deserve to be in the pictures.”

When we have these conversations he swears he doesn’t mean to omit me. That it’s not about leaving me out. But this one wasn’t even specific to their childhoods: “(Oldest) got the brains, (middle) got the brawn, and I got the mouth.” I know there’s a certain rhythm to three siblings, but there are four in this family. Even if it’s “this was before M. came along…” or “M. was so little…” I want to be acknowledged.

I always feel childish bringing this up with him, but I know it’s the sort of thing that will become a cancer on our relationship (from my end), if I don’t bring it up. And I don’t want that. I found him, I told him quietly, and I tried to let it go, from there.

And if the problem was that he didn’t get to know me well enough before he left home to have stories in which I figured? Well then there’s just no time like the present.

3 thoughts on “Family Pictures

  1. I totally get what you are saying. I have four daughters and there is a gap between the first three and the youngest. The older girls have a lot more shared experiences than my youngest and they often talk about these times together leaving her feeling left out. Additionally, I have three brothers and though I’m not the youngest, there is kind of a boys’ club mentality. Much of what they discuss when they are together are times they had together when I wasn’t around and all of their wacky adventures. My mom also joins in and loves to reminisce about how funny and crazy her boys were leaving me to feel like an extra. I feel your pain!!!

    • I think I’d be okay with it, if my youngest brother’s comments in public were more inclusive. These two brothers, in particular, have an extremely deep well of shared experience. No problem, that they reference it together. But the oldest wasn’t here and is, to some degree, at present, estranged from the other two— he got grandfathered into the toast, and I, who’ve gone far out of my way to be here, to love and support my brothers, their kids, and grandkids, not to mention my parents, got left off the list entirely, AGAIN. The youngest blogs, and if you ask his non-family audience about him, they’d know about his two brothers, his parents, his kids, and his neighbors. I think I’d be something of a surprise. And I’m over it.

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