Before There Was Me: Part 4

Before There Was Me: Part 4 September 11, 2012

by Mari

And Then There  Were Two

My second brother, Andrew was born nearly two years after Jonathan.

Today, I’d say my favorite part about Andy is that he’s daddy to a special little 2-year old girl and a precious 3-week old baby girl. And of course, husband to a wonderful lady.

Another thing I love about him is that he knows everything there is to know about air conditioners. This came in very handy about a month ago when I was in the market for one.

But that is today.

Andy is a typical “middle child.” I could go into a lot of family dynamics about how this works, but I’ll spare you. It’s true that middle children seek outside relationships more than oldest or youngest children because they’re constantly in the shadow of the doted-on oldest and the doted-on baby of the family. This was true of Andy. He has always been the social butterfly of the family.

In a lot of ways, Andy is an initiator. He was the first one to get a paper route. The first one to get a real job. The first one to pursue a romantic relationship (not a courtship!). The first one to permanently leave home. The first one to graduate from college. The first one to get married. The first one to have a baby.

My brother has a lot going for him.

But it came with a price.

He had to choose to live his life rather than the life that was chosen for him. That takes a great deal of strength; a great deal of conviction; a great deal of courage. Making that choice was tough. But once he made the choice, he never wavered.

And Then There Was Me

I like to imagine that the afternoon of my nativity would have been a sunny and warm one. I also like to imagine that someone sent my mom some daffodils. Because when a mum gives birth the day after Mother’s Day, she deserves some daffodils. At the very least!

I was born somewhere between 3:32 pm and 3:34 pm. I don’t remember the exact time (I’m sure it’s written down somewhere), so I like to say that I was born at 3:33 because that’s just cool.

I also like to tell people that I’m Russian, because that’s cool too. But I’m not really Russian. My ancestors lived in Russia, but they were German.

At any rate, on that (supposedly) warm, sunny day-after-Mother’s Day afternoon, I made my appearance.

I was promptly wrapped in a orangy-pink receiving blanket and had my first mugshot. I had a teeny bit of reddish fuzz on my head and the cutest little pudgy round cheeks you ever saw. And my little fingers looked just like they do now, except that they were so tiny and cute back then!!

I was a tiny little thing. I made my debut a week or so late (that was the only time I’ve ever been late in my life, I think!), and I weighed in at 6 pounds, 3 ounces. My tendency toward tininess continued when I took my first steps at 10 months and my parents had to go shopping for a tiny pair of shoes to protect my little feet. They found a pair of cute little navy sneakers with rainbows on the sides. I still have those little shoes.

I don’t remember much from this part of my life. From looking at old photos, I can say that I had two adoring, attentive big brothers, and I learned at an early age that if you scream, you’re more likely to get what you want. And I also learned at a young age that dirt is pretty tasty (I have pictures of this!) and that I was an observer of the 3-month rule. I once found a cookie under the fridge and decided to chow down. (Again, I have a picture of this!) I adored my Gramps and Grandma, but my dad’s parents totally freaked me out. (Just observations from photos. I have several of me being playful, peaceful and serene with Mom’s family, and on the next page, Dad’s  parents are holding me and I’m screaming my head off. I wish I could have given them the benefit of the doubt, but I guess when you’re a baby, you don’t really understand those things.)

My first birthday was awesome. Not that I remember it — once again, I’m going on the photos. I had this wonderful, huge layered birthday cake with gooey frosting. It was set on the tray of my highchair and I reached out a timid fist to check it out. I guess I must not have been too fond of the sticky gooeyness, because fist promptly found its way to mouth. And then it was all over…. I couldn’t get enough of the stuff. And to this day, I still love frosting!!!

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Read everything by Mari!

Mari is the middle of 5 kids — and the only girl — in a male-dominent, semi-quiverfull, rather patriarchal homeschooling family. She was raised in a patriarchal church and most of her social network as a child consisted of children of patriarchal or quiverfull families. This is the story of how she was sucked into the patriarchal/quiverfull belief system, and how she was lovingly (and in some cases, not so lovingly!) escorted out. Read her blog at:

The Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce



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  • madame

    What a fun entry, Mari!
    We have some things in common: I was also born tiny, weighing 6.1 lb. I LOVE cake with lots of frosting, and I had tiny feet when I learned how to walk.
    I find it interesting that your ancestors were Germans in Russia, because Russian-German (Deutsch-Russen or Russland-Deutsche) Christians are usually very conservative and patriarchal. There is a very large Russian-German church not far from us, and many families that attend that church live in our neighborhood. You can spot them from a distance because they don’t dress like the average German and they act different somehow.

  • Christine

    I’m assuming that your ancestry is the Mennonites in Russia? The ones that went to Germany after getting kicked out of the Netherlands, and Russia after getting kicked out of Germany? Not all of the groups that came from there are really conservative, but the ones that are, hoo boy. (My MIL was told by her family that her university degree was a waste of money, and this in a culture that values education.) My in-laws are mainstream Mennonites, but a lot of the extended family is still fairly conservative. Not by Mennonite standards – no head coverings, pants are fine, they’ll have the occasional drink and even dance, but garden variety working-class conservatives.

  • Thanks! 🙂 I know next to nothing about my ancestors, aside from the fact that they were German and lived in Russia. But I do know that my family didn’t pass down religious patriarchy through the generations. The rest of the family (outside of my immediate family) is pretty normal.

    I sometimes mention to my mom that perhaps some Russian boy and some German girl decided to have some fun, resulting in a little person who was half Russian and half German. My mom says that is absolutely impossible. I say, anything could happen.

  • I don’t know much about my ancestry, but I know that my ancestors were full-blooded Germans who went to Russia to escape having to participate in Germany’s wars. You know how the Germans are stereotyped as being an aggressive people? Well, this particular bunch of Germans were peaceful, so when they were told that if they taught the Russians how to farm, they wouldn’t have to participate in the Russian army, they decided to go for it. And that’s chapter 1 in How I Became Half Russian. 😛

  • Lynn

    Omg I think I am related to you! My father’s family did exactly the same thing, and in our story it’s at the time of Catherine the Great. Yep, teaching Russians to farm.

  • Flora

    My family has a similar story, and they were Mennonites. 🙂 My family settled North of the border from you but not by far… we probably have some shared blood as well!

  • That’s awesome!! I mean, in the sense that we might be cousins. And in the sense that our ancestors kept the Russians alive. 🙂

  • Cool!! I wonder if my ancestors were Mennonite.

  • Christine

    It seriously sounds like the Russian Mennonites. They probably converted people in Germany. (I know Catherine was worried about them converting the Russians, so there were legal restrictions placed on converting the locals. Although this was partially to avoid other people getting the really sweet deal that she had offered them).

  • This is part of my family background as well! My Opa left Ukraine with his German Mennonite parents when he was 3, along with the German forces retreating from Stalingrad (the Germans treated them well due to them being German, compared to living as rich foreigners under Communism). Not that that has anything to do with your story, but I find it fascinating to run into other German Russians. Also, I live in SW ND and was so surprised to find all the German Russian background in this area when we moved here! Not Mennonites so much, but Baptists and Lutherans, as I understand it. Maybe not Lutherans, but definitely Baptists.

  • Fellow German from Russia

    I have German ancestors from Russia too! I know it’s a tangent, but I just thought it was cool; I’ve never personally known anyone else with that background.