A few days ago, according to my oracle source, Facebook, it was National Siblings day, a day I have never celebrated and will never have the opportunity to.
I am an only child. My parents divorced when I was a little kid, each remarried quickly thereafter, and still I have no siblings, either step, or real. An only child between 4 “parents” and 8 grandparents shouldn’t necessarily be something any child would complain about. After all, you’re it. The only birthday that gets celebrated is yours; you get all the Christmas gifts; you never have to share toys, clothes, food, friends, a room. You never wear hand me downs, and all the school pictures displayed in the house on the walls are of you.
Being an only child also comes with a lot of negative emotions. I never really felt connected to anyone in my family because there was no one around my age to contend or commune with. I was raised with grownups. Parents, grandparents, aunts and very old great-aunts and uncles. I was always the youngest human being in the room. Always. And I was raised in a time where children lived that proverbial seen but not heard edict so common during the era. If I had a problem, I had two choices: take it to a grown up or solve it myself. Since many of the problems I had encountered bullying in school and dealing with my alcoholic relatives, I really couldn’t take it to the adults in my family. Back then, you were taught not to confide in anyone but family, so taking a family problem to a teacher was like committing an act of homicide in my family! There were no safe havens for troubled kids with questions, and the Priests and Nuns in my church were mean with a capital MEAN!!
Being an only child wasn’t a picnic as a kid and as I get older, it only gets worse because as I age, so do my parents. I have four people who I am responsible for as they age, get infirm, and need to have decisions made for them. Decisions I have no one else to bounce off. A sibling would be a lifeline during hard decision-making times. AM I making the right choice? What do you think they would want? What’s easiest for them? All questions you can ask a sibling when dealing with your parents. I have no one to ask those questions. NO one to help me make the correct decisions. No one to tell me what I’ve done is right, or wrong, or horrible.
Please, I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining and feeling burdened by this. I’m not. I’m simply stating that if I had a sibling, making these decisions would be easier.
So. A little advice to those of you who are and have siblings.
- Cherish them. You may fight like wild animals and hate one another at times, but there is truly no one you are closer to than a sibling.
- Support them. There have been so many times in my life I needed someone I could go to in order to talk things through to decide if I was doing the right thing. Having a sibling trust your opinion and offer support is a gift from God.
- Have fun with them. My husband’s brothers and sisters are all in their 50’s and they still laugh, giggle, and enjoy one another’s company whenever they are together. Their shared history, the similar references they use, the memories, all make them happy to be around one another. Spend time with your siblings.
- Love their children. When you – God forbid- die, you’ll want people around your children supporting them, loving them, helping them to remember you. I don’t have that. There’s no one my daughter can turn to when I go who knew me when. Who can tell her what it was like when I was a kid, or what I was like. Luckily, she has that with my husband and his family.
I didn’t write this to be morose, or give you a woe-is-me view of my life. I simply want people to understand that being an only child isn’t a bed of rosebuds and that having a sibling connection is one of the greatest gifts anyone can have.
If I was going to get a little Psych 101 here, I would tell you that the reason I write so much about large, loving families is because I always dreamed about being in one…yeah…pretty psych 101 profile, indeed.