Jessica at Publix with her best-friend! Sometimes it is difficult being friends with Jessica because she has so much exuberance for life that she can quickly overwhelm those around her. It is truly a beautiful thing to see!
I always did a lot of helping out. Large families have to be team efforts. Overall, I think that was a good experience for me because it taught me to be responsible, how to take care of a child, how to share, and that I wanted very much to prevent having a child until I was ready!! For a period of time while my mom was sick, I also had a great deal more responsibility that I would call raising children (to a degree). This was very different from what I had previously been accustomed to. I was concerned about what kind of adults they were going to turn into, that they learned certain self-help skills, that they learned appropriate social skills, etc. While I did not punish them, I did develop my own way of correcting problematic behaviors and decisions. To this day, I stalk my siblings on facebook and maintain close relationships with them. It has allowed me to be aware of choices that they might not share with Mom and Dad and take action to suggest possible consequences for those actions that they might not be thinking about. I really do see most of them as my children more so than my siblings. I still get a little misty eyed when looking at my graphing calculator that has lady bug stickers all over it from my baby brother, when I think about picking my baby brother up from school when he was in kindergarten and he would jump into my arms, and when I think about how very quickly he is growing into an adult. Do I think helping raise my siblings at that time was harmful to me or a disadvantage for me? Not in the slightest. Yes, there are aspects of my childhood I probably missed out on (being able to be carefree and completely self-absorbed); however, none of us gets to experience everything in life. I also believe that it brought great joy to my life to have siblings/children to share the journey of life with.