Any knowledge I have about siblings and sibling dynamics are purely academic and/or observational in nature. Certainly many of my friends have siblings. Many of my friends are also onlies. There are wide variations in their relationships among them all.
I also did not have the benefit of being surrounded by any extended family thanks to the US Army. Geographical differences, us in North Carolina (mostly) and them in Louisiana and Illinois, made visits more occasional than regular.
In essence, I was an only every way you could imagine; no siblings, no extended family, even living in a military town–where friendships are fluid and changing. It was often very lonely. (Mom-don’t freak out, there are life-long benefits in learning how to be alone without being lonely. ‘Tis all good, I don’t need additional therapy for that.)
The first declaration to my husband, upon the birth of our first son, was that he would have a sibling. My husband, the middle of three brothers, spent considerable time trying to convince me otherwise. But, why? So-and-so was an only child and he got to take his FRIENDS with him on vacation. It was awesome.
Like I said, I was adamant about there being more than one and tenacious does not begin to describe me when I really, really want something. Only children are stubborn and kinda used to getting their own way.
It would have been nice to have a sibling around to share some of the pressure growing up. To help shift the focus from me and whatever impulsive ludicrousness with which I was involved at any given moment. To be there when my Dad died. To help with my Mom. To play with, to talk to.
But, despite that longing for my Utopian brother or sister, it is with great maturity that I finally realize that having someone else borne from your Mother’s womb doesn’t mean you’ll like the person. And what greater tragedy can there be for siblings that hate each other?
Siblings are not a guarantee of friendship.
I worried so much about the division of attention, of time, of love. My husbands tells me I’m ridiculous. Only children are slightly obsessed with the need to be fair, to have fairness permeate the world.
They are such different people already that I worry they will grow up and not be friends. Or worse, that they will grow up and hate each other for the very differences that I happen to love the most.
I reserve that worry to finite spaces in time, because to do otherwise would have me trying to micromanage their lives for the next 20 years based on supposition. Only children have control issues.
However, from the moment Elliot was born his eyes were for Zach. Every milestone was met in an attempt to reach his older brother. When he learned to crawl he bee-lined for Zach; when he walked it was the same. He ran soon after walking–if only to keep up. He is truly a child living in a child’s world.
Often I’m jealous. Jealous that Zach doesn’t really remember a time in his life when Elliot didn’t exist. Jealous that Elliot will have another person to commiserate about that “crazy shit Mom did that day”.
Mostly I’m happy. Happy to hear the two of them “talk” to each other instead of going to sleep. Happy to hear Zach share knowledge (no, Elliot, that’s a brachiosaurus, not a cat) with Elliot. Slightly amused when I hear Zach tell Elliot to go to time out (I don’t encourage the mini-parent, but it is funny). I did the same kind of stuff growing up–to my cocker spaniel–but it’s just not the same.