- Chris Murphy,
ISU 2011 graduate
NORMAL - The pitter-patter of little feet are strewn about the house. Laughter consumes the hallways and smiles are contagious. Furniture is no longer in its place, broken toys cover the floors, and the “no girls allowed” signs cover doors.
Seven. A lucky number in itself also totals the number of people in my family. First came Dawn, then Keith, Kyle, Nichole, and finally me. The one and only baby of the family, I’ve had to be rebellious, funny, and quirky to come from behind and claw my way to equality with the big kids.
Growing up in a larger than normal family has defined the person I am and my memories of childhood reflect those times with my siblings.
As the youngest in the family and about to leave my parents as empty nesters for the first time in 22 years, I find myself going through photo albums of the good years, the 90s, and reflect on the Coke bottle glasses, Power Rangers shirts, Cabbage Patch Kids, and endless laughs.
My favorite pictures involve me being the center of attention, or “princess” as my family calls me. I once jumped off the back of the couch wearing winter gear in summer to get attention back from my mom, who was tending to my already injured older sister.
My house was never quiet and I was OK with that. In fact, I would have rather had eat-a-stick-of-butter competition with my brother under the kitchen table instead of watching a movie calmly on the couch as many kids would have that were not seeking attention in the wrong way from their parents.
For Chris Murphy, a 2011 ISU graduate, a large family is his norm as well. Murphy also comes from a family with three girls and two boys, all born in a seven-year range.
In his household, quiet was hard to come by.
“Between Kayla throwing soup cans at Mike, Kelly screaming at Kara to stop following her around, and me eating half a bottle of honey every time mom answered the phone because the cord prevented her from stopping me, it must have been a nightmare,” he said.
Those chaotic times often shape the people we become. I wanted to be exactly like my sister, Nichole, and Murphy saw older brother Mike as his hero.
“I basically copied everything I could from him—the clothes he wore, the music he listened to, the games he played, and anything else I could observe. My sister Kelly, being the oldest, set the bar pretty high in school too, so I was determined to make sure I lived up to the standard she set. My other sisters have had more of an impact as we've gotten older and shared a little bit more with each other,” he said.
Those people we can’t forget about are the ones that created us and thought any number above three would be a good idea.
I learned my work ethic from my mom and dad, who both had full-time jobs and managed to raise five successful children.
Some of my favorite photos are the ones where my parents gave me love at the end of a long workday. My dad, who was a sheriff for the county, was the one to rock me to sleep and I love the photos of me in a diaper only, with crazy hair, and falling asleep in his arms.
For Murphy, quality time with his parents just found a way.
“Even with five kids, I never felt like I was being neglected, ignored, or anything of the sort. I'm pretty sure my siblings would all agree with me too,” he said.
When I talk about my big, crazy family and my upbringing, I often get asked if I would want a big family of my own, and the answer is always yes. I would rather my household full of laughter and love because it is all I have ever known.While some just can’t understand, you just have to live it first.
“For my kids sake, I would like to have a big family. I couldn't imagine growing up with one, two, or even no siblings. I feel like I would have missed out on so many experiences without all of my brothers and sisters,” Murphy said.
While Murphy does not come from the “traditional” conceptualized family, which is an average rate of 2.05 children per woman according to the Central Intelligence Agency, my family is a little bit different.
I have one sister and three half-siblings. My dad was married twice before but my siblings and I never treated each other like we were not fully biologically related and for that I am eternally grateful.
While the statistic is true for my mom, we still see ourselves as a family of seven with a unique makeup that makes us who we all are today.
When I see where we have all come in 22 years—weddings, children, laughs, losses, and a lot of love—my big, dysfunctional family has helped to shape the person I am today. A wink away from flocking the nest, I know my parents wouldn’t have had it any other way than seven.