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Siblings: joined at the heart

 Sara Sites

I’ve always believed that the greatest gift you could give your child is a sibling. A built-in best friend, life-long buddy, partner-in-crime. Someone who shares the same childhood memories and traditions that you experienced, a riding partner at the amusement park. Someone to cover for you when you get into trouble with your parents (or to be the one to rat you out,) someone to stick up for you when you need it, someone to tease you and annoy you. Your confidant, your constant. Your sibling knows you like no other: all of you–the good, the bad, the ugly. They know you like you know yourself because they’re part of you–walking shared DNA.  But it’s more than just genes and mutual parents.

 

Families are like snowflakes–no two are exactly alike. Some are small, some are large. Some people never have children and some have a lot. Some families have a single parent, some have two or more. It’s so interesting to me that the dynamic of a family evolves as life events unfold. The personalities of the members of a family are all so unique, like puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together to form the whole family picture. Each child is a part of the tapestry woven by the parents to create the fabric that is their life and siblings enrich the family as a whole.

I sound like I know what I’m talking about but the truth is, I’m not part of this exclusive club. I live on the other island–the land of the lonely, only child. I didn’t have a built-in buddy to share my childhood experiences with. I suffer from “only child syndrome,” meaning sometimes its clear to see that I didn’t have to share. Anything. Growing up. Yes, this is totally a real thing, ask my husband. Jake is the middle son of three boys. He’s a sibling expert. He is both a big brother and a little brother. A sibling sandwich! I watch from my island of isolation and feel that slight pang of loneliness, of not belonging. From my angle, it seems as though people with siblings are never really alone in this world. It’s belonging to someone, similar to a parent and child but the cool part is that they grow up with that bond. Siblings shape and mold each other and vital life skills are learned within a family of multiple children (sharing, communicating, empathizing, compromising, etc.) They are people with whom to share the ups, downs, and milestones of life.

sara

I’ve had “sibling envy” my entire life and to this day feel like somewhat of a perpetual outsider. There are many types of love we experience in life–the love we feel for our parents, our partners, our children, family, friends, even the love we feel for our material “stuff.” But nothing can compare to the kind of bond that exists between brothers and sisters–sibling love is a special brand of love. The only bond I can see trumping sibling love is twin love, because who can compete with the person with whom you shared a womb?

Ok, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Despite not having that special someone to share it with, I had a wonderful childhood filled with great memories. Being the sole kid around meant having my mom to myself, no one to compete with for the best choices of food, toys, clothes, and probably more Christmas gifts (although my birthday being 10 days later probably negates that a bit). My mom wanted to give me a sibling but it wasn’t in the cards. My dad, on the other hand, did–he had three children before marrying my mom and two more after they divorced when I was two years old. So, I have “half” brothers and sisters (even my siblings have siblings!) They’re wonderful and I love them, but we didn’t grow up under the same roof and they have different moms. I am totally lucky to have these special people in my life–I do have memories of times we’ve shared with our Dad through the years and I love that. When I wallow in my only-child self-pity, I remember that there are a handful of people out there who share some DNA with me and that’s a cool thought. The bond of “family” is pretty amazing–I have been in and out of touch with my half sibs over the years and no matter how much time has passed since we last talked, it just doesn’t matter and I love that.

I recently saw a high school friend lose her sister and it really further illustrated that unbreakable bond. I believe that a sibling is such a part of a person that even death can’t separate their hearts.  That sibling, though gone from this world, gone from sight, is forever a part of someone. I think that kind of loss is tantamount to a parent losing a child. It’s like losing an appendage; you find ways to adapt and go on but you are never complete and you feel the loss for the rest of your life.

Sara Sites

Although I’ll never be part of this exclusive club I’m such a fan of, I am so thankful that my sons are. Jack, aged four, is lucky enough to have experienced his brother taking his first breath of life. Tandem nursing helped ease us all into the transition of becoming a family of four. My boys have never needed to compete for my attention–the love has grown and multiplied, never divided. I am in awe of how much these boys love each other. I can literally see it in their eyes as I watch them connect each day. Even when big brother is showing his love a little too roughly with little brother, it’s still beautiful. My husband and I have done something so cool: we’ve created brothers! It brings the greatest joy to my heart knowing that Jack and Wyatt will forever have each other to hold onto in this crazy whirlwind of life. To play with, to talk to, to go places with, to annoy each other, to laugh over their shared childhood memories.

I may not have experienced sibling love growing up but I’m living it for the first time through my sons. I mean this in more ways than one–watching and learning through their interactions and sometimes, feeling it myself. I would have never guessed this, but sometimes Jack is the little brother I never had. Weird, but totally true. There are times when he annoys me like I imagine brothers do. And I love it. Through raising my own kids, I’m learning how to live in a family dynamic that’s totally different from mine growing up. With each child I birth into our family, I know that we are giving our children the gifts of each other. 

Sometimes I daydream about what our future looks like; the holidays, the get-togethers, my babies as grown adult people. I see my husband and I as older versions of ourselves, immersed in the love of the family we’ve created. I see our adult children laughing together about the beautiful memories of their childhood–the same memories of the same events with the same parents. I can almost feel the strength of that gorgeous sibling bond that will forever be the glue which holds their hearts together.

About the Author
Sara Sites
Author: Sara Sites
Sara lives outside of Pittsburgh, PA with her husband and sons. Passionate about the inherent strength and beauty of womanhood, she seeks to develop within herself and share with others through her interests in fertility, pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, parenting and holistic living. Sara stays busy laughing and learning with her boys while supporting and encouraging moms, babies and families as a La Leche League leader, doula and leader of various groups and workshops through her business, Full Circle Doula Care.

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