At first, when there was only one, my husband and I looked at each other and said, "We could be done." Because having him was more than fulfilling. We were satisfied. And yet.

Yet we knew we weren't done. For a few reasons. Because he was growing up and I was craving more tiny fingers and baby breath. Because we'd always wanted at least three. But mostly, because we didn't want our first to grow up without a sibling.

My husband and I both have siblings; he has four, I have two. Although we both have our share of horror stories about the trials of sibling-hood, we never considered having only one child. It was a strange feeling, being content with just the one. Our desire for our son to have a sibling overcame any doubts we may have had, though.

When I imagined James interacting with his new little brother, I thought of them happily playing in our yard, laughing and smiling and enjoying each other. "Let's have them close together," I told my husband, "so they'll have more in common as they grow."

That idea makes me laugh now. Because right now, the 18 months between them feels like a lot more than a year and a half. And they have things in "common" (like both wanting the SAME Buzz Lightyear toy even though we have 3. identical. toys.), their commonalities usually end in screaming and wrestling and forceful separation. James is quiet, contemplative, and analytical; Jacob is loud, rash, and dangerously curious. Right now, they don't get along. At all. And yet.

Yet I hope for the future. They're still so young now, and I have a hope that as they grow, things will get a little better. I'm trying desperately to ignore my own history--the fights with my sister that lasted until she graduated from high school and went away to college. But there were good times, too. Great times. And I hope my children can have some of those.

I look at myself and at my husband now, and I see the gaping hole in our lives where our siblings should be. They are "here," but not really. Not like I want them to be. Siblings should be built-in, lifelong friends that share an entire lifetime of memories with you. But our lives have changed and we've grown apart, and it's the hardest growing apart to experience. My sister--for the first seven years of my life, the only sibling I had--lives in the same city I do. We see each other once a week, most of the time. But our interactions feel strained. We chit-chat. I think we're both afraid to really talk. Our lives have taken us down such drastically different roads that it seems we never really see eye to eye any longer. I see my husband interact with his 3 brothers in almost the exact same way. There's still love there, but almost no kinship. As the years roll by, I fear we'll only interact with our siblings at the standard holiday and birthday celebrations.

As I watch my boys yell and wrestle now, I worry that their future will be the same. Is this just part of growing up? What can I do to make sure the bond of brotherhood doesn't decay over time? Sibling kinship is what I wanted for my boys. I'm desperately hoping sibling rivalry doesn't overshadow it.


C (Kid Things) said...

Your boys sound a lot like mine. My oldest is the analytical, cautious one. My 4yo is danger personified. Then there's my youngest, my daughter who is, well, bossy. I hope they grow up to always be friends, that was the hope. My brother and I are 7 years apart and like you mentioned, we only see each other on holidays and birthdays really even though we live less than 20 minutes away. I know he's there, though, if I need him and I'm the same for him. Maybe that's what really counts.

Corinne said...

My kids are doing the same thing... and it drives me batty. But I catch glimpses now and then of tenderness between them. And it makes it worth it. The unknown of the future and all...

hlc said...

Wow-- what a timely post! Not only have I been designated referee with my two boys (24 months apart) and wondering where I went wrong, but I have also been thinking about my own three sisters and why, for the most part, we aren't close in the way that you are wishing for either...

My boys are 6 and 8 and polar opposites, which creates so many issues with them getting along. I hope that they can find some common ground one day.

Great post!

Rudri said...

I only have one daughter and I think alot about her not having a sibling. My husband and I are on the fence about having a second one. We are close to both of our siblings, but have met many people who are not as close as they want to be with their own siblings.