A Sunday morning at 7 a.m. Why was I awake? It was the one day of the week I could sleep in, and I am a person who highly values her extra hours of sleep. I was not planning on being conscious until at least lunchtime. Unfortunately, I was awoken to the vulgar profanities of my two younger brothers and their five friends in the room adjacent to mine. They had just lost a game of "Fortnite." I pulled the covers over my head. That did no good. I texted my brother Sam to be quiet. Also did nothing. Seeing as there was no other solution, I rolled out of bed and joined the seven boys on the couch as they started their next game.
This is how it usually went.
My mom had always planned it this way. She wanted to have four kids, each two years apart, so that they would all be best friends. Her dream came true. The genders, however, had never been specified. She likes to tell me this story from when I was 4 years old: At the time, she was pregnant with her last child, my baby brother Zach. I was the only girl of her three kids. After she had announced her pregnancy to us three, I had responded with, "I really hope it's a girl, but if not, I will still love him." And I do.
Despite being constantly surrounded by boys, I was absolutely the girliest child there was. This only made it that much worse for me when my two little brothers forced me to dress up as Pademae for Halloween to complete their Star Wars trio. I went to my third grade Halloween party and was the only girl not dressed as a princess. I was pretty upset back then.
Today, the pictures are priceless. Almost as priceless as our vacation photos, where 10-year-old me is standing on a beach in a bright pink bathing suit surrounded by 12 boys. I had never been on a vacation where I wasn't the only girl. Needless to say, I put in hours of fishing, golfing, poker games and Call of Duty marathons. Despite my complaints and nagging wishes to have "just one more girl," I still cherish these memories today.
Looking back on my childhood, one thing can be said for sure, it was never boring. This only became truer into my teen years. My older brother was the captain of our school's varsity hockey team, and our house very quickly became the party destination. Some nights, I would get home from a long and exhausting day to find 13 cars in my driveway. I would have to park in the cul-de-sac of my own house and walk through the wintry Minnesota air to a kitchen filled with blaring country music, 17 pizza boxes and the entire varsity hockey team. I learned to love it.
No matter how many times I wished I could (for once) choose the movie or have a conversation at the dinner table that didn't revolve around hockey, I 100% would not trade these boys for anything. I can honestly say that my brothers are my best friends, although it might have taken me till I was a little bit older to realize this.
I have never once had a friend who did not immediately fall in love with my family. Or who my family did not immediately accept like one of their own. It's a beautiful thing, something that I know very few people get to experience. I oftentimes feel like I have 20 siblings rather than just three.
My high school Saturday nights are something I'm not sure will ever be beaten, and I still feel pangs of nostalgia every time I hear the faint hum of an Eric Church song on the radio. A big game. A victory. All of us girls heading back to my house with excitement and butterflies. Ordering the obscene amount of pizza necessary and jabbing up the stereo as the boys burst through the front door grinning ear to ear. All of us: dancing, singing, celebrating. It was like a giant family, and I still look back on those days knowing it was exactly what my mom had wanted. Four kids who were each other's best friends, each other's greatest memories, each other's Saturday nights. And despite all the chaotic moments in between, I wouldn't trade it for the world.