Where were you born in your family? First, last, middle, only child, only daughter? How do your family dynamics play a role in who you were growing up and who you are today?

I was born the oldest of 4, and after my parents struggled to conceive--both factors I believe contributing to my role in the family.

I was the typical oldest, high-achiever, independent, and couldn’t wait to leave the house (which I did at 17 to go to college). I started school at the age of 4 when mom had 1.5 year old twins-- she thought I was ready and she was ready to have one kid off to school.

I was very bossy. That was squelched by several teachers and I learned to hide that bossy leader part of who I was because it was not getting me positive attention to be female and act that way. I was also a people pleaser because I wanted that positive attention from my parents after my siblings came along.

I learned to avoid conflict because conflict is not something my parents ever had in front of us or showed us how to work through. And not rocking the boat in a family that large felt safe.

The three of us girls came first, with the baby being my only brother. Only 2.5 years their elder, I was both the one setting the standard for their own paths, as well as participating in the competition that comes with three teenage girls that close together in age.

I was serious and my sisters were “fun.” They were also drama at times, as younger siblings can be. I would try not to get pulled into it, always being the peacemaker, always striving to be the safe, steady rock in the family, at least amongst the kids. And I think that role continued into my adulthood until I faced my own personal tragedy.