Why Bother Staying Connected to Siblings?

Why Bother Staying Connected to Siblings?

Mom birthed seven children in thirteen years. I was the sixth born child in my family, the youngest of the girls. I’ve not always been close to my siblings, but they have been a constant in my life. It has only been in the last few years or so that I’ve grown up enough or matured in such a way as to really value what I’ve had all along, my sibs. 

   Oh, the Things We Share with Our Siblings 

I would like to ask you this, who else but a sibling can give us insights into the dynamics of the family we were born into? 

Once, when the third born child, also the second oldest sister, and I were having an adult conversation about our childhood, she told me, “You know, you were born into a chaotic household.” 

This one little statement shed a beacon of light into my life. It makes so much more sense to me now as to why I am diligent to keep my life in order. I like a clean house, and an organized workspace. I don’t like crowded, closed in, noisy places and instead prefer the quiet wide-open spaces of nature. 

Her little statement relieved me of the load of fear that I used to carry. I always thought I might be an obsessive-compulsive perfectionist. But I’m not. I’m just a normal individual who is recovering from growing up in a chaotic household. 

Another interesting concept about siblings is that who else except for them shared our childhood as children themselves? It is with our siblings we grow up with and then maybe, if we live long enough, grow old with, too. 

When my offspring or grand offspring flip the pages of photo albums, they see pictures of their favorite uncle with hair. That is an anomaly to them since they’ve only seen him as a mostly balding man. But I, on the other hand, lived through the days of his hippie hood when he kept his thick dark hair tied in a ponytail. I am lucky to be a living witness to his hairier days and to also still be alive to see him in his balding days. 

No one except for our siblings share similar character and physical traits, voice inflections and even the unique sound of our laughter. I’ve been told more than once that my voice sounds just like that of the second born sister and that I look like my second born brother. It is interesting to be compared to my balding brother when I still have lots of hair. 

Finally, who else besides our sibs can remember the trivialities concerning the different houses we lived in, the bedrooms we shared, the vacations we took, the grandparents we had or the major calamities that happened during childhood. No one but them.

So why do I bother staying connected to my brothers and sisters? It is so I can be reminded of who I once was and be validated for who I’ve become.

Why Bother To Make Friends With Siblings?

Why Bother Making Friends With Siblings?

You don’t get to select the family you are born into, nor do you get to decide whether or not to be an only child, to have brothers or sisters or to have both. I have three brothers and three sisters and it wasn’t easy for me to get along with so many different personalities. Sometimes I dreamt of being an only child. In my imagination I had my own bedroom, undivided care from parents and a tidy, quiet home. 

I never did get any sympathy from Mom whenever I whined about the sister who always left a mess on her side of the bedroom, or about the one who yelled whenever she was left to babysit us. Instead, I got words of wisdom.  She told me that if I could not get along with my siblings, I’d have an especially hard time getting along with anybody else. “Learning to get along with people starts at home,” she emphasized. I did not believe her words right away. Surely, there were nicer and more normal people out in the world than the ones I lived with.      

Various Personalities 

I got along well enough with my siblings to survive my childhood. Eventually we all grew up and left home. Some of us, because of our geographical closeness, stayed in touch. An occasional phone call or letter in the mail brought me up to date on life’s current events with the others who lived farther away. We all stayed connected, though loosely. 

Recently, I have come to deeply appreciate my siblings, and take more time to spend time with them whether talking on the phone, meeting for lunch or taking a bike ride. 

Even though we originated from the same set of parents, the personalities represented by my siblings vary.  Some are industrious, responsible and reliable. Not only do they set goals, they set a date to accomplish those goals. Others are empathetic, affectionate and trusting. They are the ones who listen well and sometimes give unsolicited advice. Then there are some who worry, are easily irritated and wrestle with depression. The extroverts of the family are curious and creative and seem to act less practical than some of the more self-controlled ones. When I get together with them, I never know what might happen. In short, none of us are the same, though we do have similarities. We are all polite and respectful. 

Growing up around so many different personalities, I could only observe and notice them. Now years later, I value them.

Mom was right. Getting along with people does start with those in your home. It just took a while for her words to become my truth.  

Why bother making friends with siblings? It is worth it to make friends with the ones with whom we share the same history. Our personalities may be very different, but those differences can eventually be admired.

Why Bother Sharing or Not?

Why Bother Sharing or Not?

Growing up with three brothers and three sisters I was forced into sharing. It was an unspoken rule that everyone in our family understood and lived by.  

No one had their own bedroom. The girls had one bedroom shared among them and so did the boys. My clothes were never new and never my own. They’d already been worn by my sister, three years older than me. I didn’t have my own dresser, but I got the bottom drawer of one where I kept my socks, underwear and undershirts. I don’t remember how we kept all or our clothes in one closet, but we did. 

The bathroom was the only room in the house where you could be alone for a short amount of time. It was my favorite place and I liked lingering there as long as I could. But, a person could only ignore someone else’s insistent pounding and yelling for so long, “It’s my turn.” “You’ve been there long enough.” “ I’m telling Dad.”

Two of my siblings share birthdays in December. Three share theirs in May. But I had to share not only the month of July with my little brother, but the exact same day as well. It didn’t seem right that what used to be just mine was now ours. 

But, when I was three, Mom sat me down on the couch and showed me my birthday present; a bundle wrapped up in a blanket that made a lot of noise. “This is your baby brother,” she said “and he was born on your birthday.” 

The information was too much for me to understand. This pink faced, toothless and hairless thing was a brother, born on my birthday and somehow a gift. I wasn’t impressed. I only wondered if he was somehow my twin since only twins shared the same birthday. After Mom carefully explained this phenomenon to me, I mostly ignored him until my next birthday. 

Then it dawned on me, my birthday was divided between him and me. I no longer had a whole birthday to myself. 

My cake was no longer mine, but ours. I was no longer the solitary person in my birthday picture. Now he was there. “Happy birthday to Terese,” became, “Happy birthday to Terese and Mark.” We even had to blow out our candles in unison. 

I accepted my fate with courage and kindness only because that was the unspoken, but understood rule in our house. 

Then I grew up and drove away from home, all by myself in my own car. I rented an apartment and slept alone in my own room. I didn’t have to share my bathroom or my closet. I bought my own dresser and filled up all the drawers. 

Before living solo, I’d never experienced how luxurious it was not having to share. Now, I know how to do both; share and not share. 

That birthday with my brother? It’s still ours, not mine.  

Although I was forced to share, it taught me to consider others. Not sharing teaches me to consider just myself. Why bother sharing or not? They are both worth it, since they both have value.