Siblings? The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

People often ask me if I plan on “giving” my son a sibling eventually. This question brings a lot of emotions to the surface: disgust and amazement (Is that even any of your business?!), followed by serious worry, longing, and doubt. Why do I want my son have a sibling someday? Well, for the same reason I want him to remain an only child: because I have a sibling, and I know how complicated sibling relationships can be.

Quite the dichotomy, eh?

When it comes to siblings, we all have different experiences and opinions. Some people grew up in a house full of other kids. A fellow City Moms Blog blogger in Charleston who grew up with a whole gang of siblings wrote about her longing for lots of children, and she based her opinion on her relationships with her siblings. Reading her words led me into deep contemplation on the subject, and made me wonder: if my son could have the same sibling experience as me, would I want him to?

I’ve had a brother for… well… my whole life. Before I could talk, I was a little sister. Before I had any other friends, I was a little sister. Before I was an opinionated and hot-headed woman, I was an opinionated and hot-headed little sister. And before I was mother, I was a little sister.

Circa 1987 I don't know the story behind the frog, but I bet it's a good one.
Circa 1987
I don’t know the story behind the frog, but I bet it’s a good one.

My first best friend was my Big Brudder. For as long as I can remember, he was the coolest guy I knew. I wanted to do everything he did, and I wanted to always be around him and his friends. We’re ten years apart in age (almost to the day–our birthdays are only 4 days apart!), so he could have very easily waved me off and ignored me throughout my childhood, but he didn’t. I leached on to that poor guy everywhere he went, and he always made me feel like he wanted me there. When I was in first grade and he got his red Ford Ranger truck, I was his permanent shotgun rider. We joked, we laughed, and we heckled one another constantly. To this day, we still do. Our favorite game to play together, even now, is How Can We Drive Mom Insane As Quickly As Possible?, and we are awesome at it. Sometimes our lives get so hectic that we go weeks without talking, but we always pick right back up where we left off when we reconnect. He understands me to my core. He accepts everything about me. Even the weird stuff, because hey, he usually has the same weird stuff. He’s the only person on the planet who understands my relationship with my parents, because he’s lived it too. When I was a teenager and needed to get away from my parents for a little while, I could always count on being able to go to his house and hang out. We keep one another’s secrets (well, I do better than he does…), we confide in one another, and we can make one another laugh with just a look. When I need real advice or I’m in a tight spot, I call my brother. We have the same dorky laugh, and share the same ridiculous personality. Having a big brother has made my life so much more full, and has helped mold me into the person I am today. I will cherish the memories and stories I have with my brother until the day I die. My sense of humor and my love of life have flourished because I have a brother.

Big Brudder and me, 2000. He was 25, and I was 15. Not pictured: our mother pulling her hair out because we were acting like total brats about getting our pictures taken.
Big Brudder and me, 2001.
He was 25, and I was 15.
Not pictured :: our mother pulling her hair out because we were acting like total brats about getting our pictures taken.

With all the corny Hallmark stuff also comes the not-as-wonderful stuff. My brother is the only person who knows exactly what to say in order to get me from completely calm and reasonable to absolutely spitting angry and livid, no matter how many times I tell myself I’ll keep my cool. In my adult life, I have been so fuming mad at my brother that I’ve gone months without speaking to him. Silly? Well yeah, in hindsight it is, but I could certainly live without the drama. He also has the uncanny ability of putting our parents through emotional turmoil with hardly any effort, and growing up, I was often the one dealing with the aftermath. To this day, that’s still the case. If there’s conflict involving Big Brudder and the family, he can just walk away, but I’m stuck trying to fix everything. Because of the constant fighting between him and my parents, I developed this terrible habit of emotionally checking out and shutting down in situations of conflict. I developed that habit as a child in order to cope with the tension and constant fighting, but it has negatively effected every relationship and friendship I have had as an adult. Even with the headaches and drama of growing up with a rebellious teenage brother, the day he was kicked out moved out of our house was one of the worst days of my life. Looking back, that was probably the beginning of a fairly serious depression that I stayed in for a good 10 years. It was like my best friend had abandoned me, and I felt very alone. The heartache I felt after that event was repeated every time he made decisions that [at the time I felt] affected our family negatively. Every time he began dating someone new and withdrew from our family a little bit, I felt rejected. When he said or did things to make my parents mad, it felt to me like he was purposely making my life miserable. I’ve developed destructive behaviors because of my sibling. My self-esteem and self-worth suffered because I have a brother.

So do I want my son to have siblings? Yes! But no. I want nothing more than for him to feel the unconditional love and friendship that a sibling would bring him. The bond is indescribable. As a mom, I’ve also made it my duty to shield my son from unnecessary pain. Maybe it’s good to let him experience some negative things? But at what price? Would he resent me for having more kids? Or would he resent me for making him an only child?

It’s not a decision I plan to make any time in the near future, that’s for sure. Thank goodness! My hope is that it’ll all become a little more clear as we venture further down the road. One thing is for sure, though. My life, for better or worse, would not be the same without my Big Brudder. I love the crap out of him, even when I do hate his guts.

Me (now with red hair), and Big Brudder (now with... uh... less hair).
Big Brudder and me. We’ve grown up to be such good looking giant children.


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