As many of you know, today is National Siblings Day! In honor of this complicated and wonderful relationship that is like no other, I will share just a few simple stories.
The First Was OK, The Second Not So Much
Just over two months before my third birthday I became a sibling. That is, until then, I was an only child. Not only was I the apple of my parents’ eye, I was worshipped by my large extended family as the first girl in my generation. I don’t remember much about my mother’s stomach growing but grow it did and my parents prepared me for my inevitable shift on the family couch to make room for a sibling.
On April 24, my mother took a little suitcase to the hospital and several days later, sister Karen came home, plump and quiet. I slid over. A few days later, another baby entered the picture. Lisa was small and wiry and not quiet at all. I had not bargained for this. While my parents were busy settling the twins, I picked up a large container of Johnson’s Baby Powder, twisted the top to holes open and methodically sprinkled the entire thing all over the living room-sized Persian rug. When my parents beheld my handiwork, I met their eyes with a glaring stare. In slow, measured words, I laid down my law: “Don’t bring home any more babies.”
A couple of months ago, I spent a tense two weeks waiting for the results from the biopsy of a slice of my toenail. During the hours before I got good news, I poured out my heart to this second twin to come home. She listened. She shared her own experiences with waiting for important news. She made me feel I was not alone.
Even One Was Too Much
My daughter Emily was an only child for three years. She liked it that way. Actually, she LOVED it that way. She was the apple of her parents’ eye. She was worshipped by my large extended family as the first child of her generation. She knew she had a good thing going.
Following the parenting books we devoured, my husband and I did not tell Emily about the prospect of a new sibling until I was about halfway through pregnancy. Nine months is a long time for a child to contemplate an unknown and dreaded life change. When we did give Emily the warm fuzzy version of becoming a sibling, she simply looked into space, didn’t say anything. My abdomen continued to expand. People would stop us on the street and ask about the impending birth. Ladies would bend down and ask Emily if she was excited to have a new brother or sister. Emily simply looked into space, didn’t say anything.
Until one blustery March today I took a little suitcase to the hospital and a couple of days later came home with sister Caroline. Emily stared at her with stone cold eyes. She said “I wish I could throw her in the garbage.” She never laid a hand on Caroline. I think about this when I hear parents say “Use your words.” Ha. Ha.
Not Alone II
A couple of years ago, Caroline was applying to prestigious theater schools. She was summoned for an audition in London. She felt small and unmoored at the idea of it. We all saw her fear. Her dad and I wished her well. Her sister, Emily, bought a plane ticket and accompanied Caroline across that large pond dubbed the Atlantic Ocean. Emily busied herself during audition time, then whisked Caroline off to the warmth of a good meal and even better company. She listened. She shared her own experiences with putting herself on the line. She made Caroline feel she was not alone.
There are many other tales I could regale you with – time with my siblings Karen and Lynn; time with Emily and Caroline’s sibling Corinne. Stories that may find their way onto this blog another day.
Share your sibling stories