I come from a family of seven; one father, one mother, four daughters, one son. To this day, when I tell people that I'm the only boy amidst four sisters, the reply is pity: "Aww you poor thing!" "Oh my, Pete, I'll be praying for you!" "No brothers!? I can't imagine."
Then, if it's a woman I'm speaking with, and if that woman is older than forty (because women over forty are wise by default), she'll see past the initial pity and say something like, "Oh but I'll bet you're well-fed!" (Which is true, but I try not to let my figure divulge it.) Or, "Psh, I bet you're so spoiled over there. Like a prince!" (No comment.)
If the person is really at the top of their game, they come straight to the inevitable conclusion: "Ah, four sisters, eh? So you have five mothers."
And that's the truth. But it's really only true because my one real mother raised them up to be mothers, not merely secretaries (or accountants, or chief executive officers, or plumbers). I say "merely" because they were raised with a much higher, much more lofty goal than to be fit for such specific careers. Being a mother (and in our faith, that necessarily presumes being a wife) is not some archaic, insignificant belittlement of female potential. On the contrary, being a mother means being good- nay, being excellent at everything. It means being the secretary, the accountant, the CEO, the plumber- anything, everything, and doing it for an invisible currency incomparably more valuable than the American dollar. It means being the Queen of Domesticity, a Jill-of-all-trades*, subsuming the dabbling careers of the short-sighted into an august everest of capability, adorned with the paradoxical jewels of respect and fragility and humility and submissiveness. Being a mother means giving 100% of yourself to more than one person.
At least this is what I've seen in my own mother. And this is what I see the beginnings of in my four sisters.
On Thursday, my sister Christine is getting married! She's marrying a cool cat named... (don't laugh!) ...Isaac. Hehe. Did you laugh? Nevermind. He is all things manly, and that includes being a hopeless romantic. A man is no man who is not a hopeless romantic. That's why they call it romance. If it were a trait confined to women, they would call it womance. Hehe. See, Isaac brings out this really odd, silly, side of me. And he's good at timing man-hugs so they don't feel emasculating.
This will be the third of four sisters to get married. used to think it was pretty rough being the only boy... it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I realized this equation:
4 sisters + time = 4 brothers-in-law
Now I have more brothers than I know what to do with! I must echo the words of that literary genius, Jane Austen:
What strange creatures brothers are!
* I highly recommend the book "What's Wrong With The World", by G. K. Chesterton. It's a delightfully hard read. Like eating steak with a spoon.