Sibling rivalry is something I never experienced. I was an only child, or as one of my own children once mistakenly, but all too accurately, expressed it, “a lonely child.” He was more right than he would ever know. Many siblings think that having a brother or sister, especially when growing up, is about the worst thing in their lives. They should only know.
As an only child, if I were angry or in a bad mood, it would have been very helpful to have a brother or sister to hit, pinch, tease or otherwise torment. Instead, I took it out, inappropriately on my parents which led to guilt to this day. Also, because I never had the rough give and take of siblings, I was always timid about aggressive physical contact, afraid I would get hurt. Even in college, forced to play field hockey, my major goal was to keep out of the way of the sticks rushing toward me. As you can imagine, I was not a popular team member.
When I was raising my own children, nothing had prepared me for the rough and tumble, the verbal assaults, the competitions in which my children engaged. They said I took it all too seriously, told me to watch our kittens skirmish and then curl up together.
Everything I did was always the best. There was no one’s report card held up to me, no one’s behavior an exemplar, no achievement to match. This had an unfortunate outcome: In order to maintain my own reputation, if I couldn’t excel, I stopped trying. Sometimes I dropped out before I started, as with biology in college.
I have no one with a shared memory of growing up, of my parents, of my younger self. I have no one to be in my corner just because we share blood.
When I was growing up, I always wished for a brother or sister. Sometimes I still do.
Dorothy C. Judd © 2016
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