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IT'S OUR TURN: Siblings are forever

It's been five years since all four of my siblings and I lived at home together.

In those days, there were times I couldn't wait to get away from them. As is typical of siblings, we didn't always see eye-to-eye or get along. My brother's sarcastic one-liners drove me insane, and I had had enough of my sister taking my clothes without asking. I was ready for college and the space that came with it.

But now that we aren't all together nearly as often, I find myself missing the chaos.

In the past five years, three of us — myself, my 21-year-old brother and my 19-year-old sister — have moved out, gone to college and begun our own lives. The youngest of my siblings, my 15-year-old brother and 12-year-old sister, still live with my parents but bounce between school, friends' houses and jobs.

Sometimes this idea of us all growing up is so hard to grasp. But it's also something that has been beautiful to watch unfold because as we have all grown, so have our relationships.

It's odd to think back to our lives growing up, when were small and had forever in front of us. But when I do, I see so much of the people we are today.

One of my favorite stories about when we were little took place when the three older kids were the only kids in the house, as the other two had yet to arrive.

At the time, my sister, Kate, was 1, my brother, Ben, was 3 and I was 6. As my mom tells it, we were all at McDonald's in the Playland area. I was probably near my mom, as I wasn't ever much for playing and preferred to observe. But Ben and Kate were in the ball pit when an older boy started being rude and throwing balls at my brother. Ben, being the quiet and reserved child he was, didn't say anything. Kate, being the loud, assertive child she was, confronted the older boy by standing up her small but stocky 1-year-old frame and yelling, "No, you mean boy. You no throw balls at my brother!"

That was that. The boy stopped.

Though that situation may have taken place more than 15 years ago, we are still eerily similar to those three kids. I am still an observer. I listen to people's stories and watch their interactions. I find meaning and I write about it. Ben is still somewhat quiet and reserved. He's never been one to speak unnecessary words, and he never will be. And Kate is still loud and assertive, spunky and fearless. Jack and Maggie, though not born at the time of the ball-throwing situation, rounded out our family with their kind hearts and wicked smarts.

And much like we did as youngsters, we still protect and stand up for one another.

Though I can freely admit I didn't always enjoy the chaos that came along with having a big family, it is now something I would not trade for the world.

By having five children, my parents gave us someone who will be there through everything, through the good times, the bad, the happy, the sad, the in-between. They gave us someone who will be forgiving, even after fights and mean words. Someone who will love unconditionally. Someone who will fight for the other when the other is unable. Someone who will be there even when my parents no longer are.

By having five children, my parents gave us each four lifelong best friends. And that's a gift that just doesn't compare to any other.

• • •

"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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