WATERVILLE — Baleigh Gorman will never have trouble finding someone to lean on.

She’s got her mother, Becca Gorman; her grandmother, Amy Gorman; great-grandmother Cheryl Gorman; and great-great-grandmother Karlene Leighton.

And if she doesn’t find the advice she needs, then there’s always her great-great-great-grandmother, Frances Stone.

Baleigh is 5 weeks old, the youngest in a family of six living generations — an unusual phenomenon, by all accounts.

Also unusual is that four generations of her family live in one large house in Waterville.

And they actually like each other.

They share meals, go to the beach, watch basketball games, and just spend time talking — when they aren’t working or going to school.

“To me, the foundation for everything is family,” says Cheryl, Baleigh’s great-grandmother, who, at 51, doesn’t look old enough for the designation. “That’s why I really like being home at dinnertime, because I think this is an important time for us to connect.”

Living in the large, three-story, turn-of-the-century home with Cheryl and her husband, Michael, are their daughter, Amy, 31; Amy’s daughter, Becca, 17; and Becca’s baby, Baleigh. Michaela, 17, the daughter of Cheryl and Michael, lives there, too.

Cheryl’s mother, Karlene Leighton, 70, lives in Iowa. She was the oldest girl in a family of nine; Karlene’s mother, Frances Stone, 88, lives in Waterville and was also the oldest girl in a family of nine, Cheryl said:

“She’s the only one left in her family alive, as far as siblings go.”

Karlene, Amy, Becca and Baleigh all share the same middle name: “Mae.”

Cheryl and Amy, mother and daughter, actually were pregnant at the same time 17 years ago — Cheryl with Michaela and Amy with Becca.

Becca and Michaela are like sisters because they are so close in age, but actually Michaela is Becca’s aunt.

Amy remembers being at the hospital in labor, her pregnant mother, Cheryl, lending support.

“I’m in the hospital about to give birth to Becca and my mother is there, braiding my hair with her belly sticking out,” Amy says. “We’re waddling down the hall together.”

Amy gave birth to Becca on Dec. 30, 1993, and Amy’s mother gave birth to Michaela seven weeks later, on Feb. 25, 1994.

“I was a grandmother — and a new mom,” Cheryl said.

Amy says people can’t believe she’s a grandmother at 31. And that people call her “Grammie” — the only name left for her to have.

“I couldn’t be ‘Nana or Nona.’ I had to be ‘Grammie,’ even though I’m the young one,” she said.

Cheryl and Michael Gorman also have two sons, Michael Jr., and Justin.

The Gorman girls, Cheryl, Amy, Becca and little Baleigh — who all have dark hair and eyes — sat in their immaculate and large but cozy living room Friday, sharing stories about their sometimes hectic but happy lives.

Things can get crazy, they admit — like when they go out to eat, and everyone is calling to each other across the table, “Mom, Nana, Nona, Grammie,” says Amy.

The family is also ambitious, with both Cheryl and Amy enrolled at Kennebec Valley Community College. Cheryl is working on an associate’s degree that she said will lead to an eventual bachelor’s degree in psychology –she wants to be a counselor. Amy, who has taught pre-school children and worked with the elderly, is about to graduate from the occupational therapy assistant program. She and Becca’s father are not together, but are best friends, she said.

Becca will graduate a year early this year from Temple Academy through a home-schooling program and then plans to take a year off before enrolling in college to become a medical assistant. She is a single mother.

Leighton is a retired cosmetologist and Stone, a retired certified nurse’s aide, Cheryl Gorman said.

Michael, Cheryl’s husband, is a full-time plumber, as well as athletic director at Temple. He also teaches physical education and driver’s education and coaches the girls’ basketball team, of which Michaela is a member. The whole family attends the basketball games, for which Cheryl is record-keeper.

Cheryl said she had her first child at 15; Amy had Becca at 14; and Karlene had her first child at 16.

Amy says living all together under one roof provides many hands for helping out:

“It’s good to see each other all the time. Everyone is really close.”

She and Cheryl acknowledge that having a child at a young age is difficult. When she was a pregnant teen, Amy spoke to high and junior high school students about abstinence and protection and how hard it is to be a young mother. When Becca got older, Amy said she was open with her and told her that having a child at a young age is hard. Becca still had a baby at 17 — an infant who gets a lot of love and attention.

“Some people thought, well gosh, didn’t you educate or take precautions?” Amy said. “We did, and we all knew better, of course.”

Sometimes, Cheryl says, people have an attitude about young teen mothers.

“But I think it can be turned around, too. Education is usually put on hold.”

The upside is that the family is close, supportive and loving, she said

“My Mom always said, ‘Enjoy every one of your children because as soon as they’re out of the house, you’re going to miss it.'”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

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