One of the many perks of being an only child. I was reminded of this every time my mother made cake. Lucky me, I got to lick the bowl and I didn’t have to share. Apparently this was a big issue in her own childhood with her older brother. According to my mother, she wanted to adopt more kids. But once my parents got me they realized the huge mistake they had made…..JUST KIDDING!! They realized that their lifestyle would not be suited to having more than one child. They both had one sibling who tortured them as children and they were not close to as adults. So, I am sure they didn’t want me to experience the pain of having a sibling. How nice of them.
I wanted a sister or brother so badly. I wished that my parents would hurry up and divorce and remarry so that I could at least have step-siblings. That never happened. So, I grew up as a lonely only. Don’t get me wrong, there are definite advantages to being an only child besides getting the batter bowl all to myself. I was always allowed to bring a friend along, I could watch whatever I wanted on tv, if I felt like being alone, I was. Christmas morning was all about me. I didn’t have to share my room or my parents.
We Only Children are definitely a different type of people. It’s not that we are narcissistic or selfish, sometimes we just aren’t used to thinking like people who grew up with siblings do. Similarly, people with siblings don’t generally have the same attachment or feelings of responsibility toward their parents that we Onlies do. We were the only child which carries alot of responsibility. Our parents hung all their hopes and dreams on us. There was no “black sheep” or “over achiever” We had to be both. There was no other child to compare and contrast us to. Many may think that is a good thing, but really, our parents had no other child to help them see that our quirks were just normal kid quirks cause our sibling had them also. Even in hindsight, being able to see that a kid is just being a kid, in relation to their sibling, gives parents that opportunity to apologize. With an Only, a parent doesn’t have that gift of hindsight comparison.
It wasn’t that bad as an only child. But as an adult, it hasn’t been easy. Again, I have the advantage of being the only heir to both my parents. But as such, I am the only one to make decisions about their care. That hit home when my father was dying. Being that my parents were divorced, all of the decisions regarding my father’s care fell to me. And I had no sibling to bounce ideas off of or commiserate with. Sure, I had family and friends, but it just isn’t the same. Growing up, I never had someone who knew my parents like I did. I never had a brother or sister to turn to and say “Ok, Mom is nuts, right?”. When my parents and I fought, there was no one to run interference for me. I had to deal. There was no way to triangulate the relationship. And believe me, a little triangulation, contrary to popular belief, can be a very useful thing.
I have three kids. I remember feeling so sad when I was pregnant with my second child because my first was going to lose her Only Child status. It was a real sense of grief. As silly as it was to grieve such a thing, and as excited as I was for her to have a sister and to have another child, I felt the sadness of having to share her. I was going to give up the special relationship that Only Children have with their parents.
Today, I marvel at the relationship my kids have with one another. I know nothing about what it is like. I watch them fight, and love and communicate with wonder. And a bit of envy. They are very close to each other. Not in age, but in relationship. I hope they will always be close. And just to be fair, I still lick the bowl just so they don’t have to share.