My sister and I are not close. Our relationship is complicated, to say the least. She is my only blood sibling; I have a step brother too. Sadly, though my relationship with him is far less complicated, it’s no more satisfying. We love each another, but we don’t rely on each other. We’re all in our 30s and I have never had a heart-to-heart with either of them.
We see each other relatively frequently since we live close. They aren’t married or in committed relationships, and I have no nieces or nephews. My two boys are the only grandchildren. I know my siblings adore their nephews, and they are Godparents to them. We spend all the holidays together, we celebrate our birthdays together and we have travelled together as an extended family.
The point I’m trying to make is, though we are present in each others lives, we are not present
in each others lives. They don’t know me, just as I am quite certain that I don’t really know them. We are family, but we aren’t friends.
It makes me sad, but I’m powerless to change it. Trust me when I say I really am. We are such polar opposites of one another, have lived life experiences that thoroughly separate us, so much so that it makes it difficult to relate to one another in any meaningful way. They’ve made choices that don’t sit well with me. I’ve accepted that this is how it is. But sometimes I long for better.
After the birth of our first son, my husband and I briefly considered the idea of staying a one-child family. It was silly and fleeting and really didn’t carry a lot of weight. We knew we had to have to another; wanted to provide our first with a sibling. We knew that we wanted our family to grow with the richness and love that comes with adding a new member. And so, after two years we took the next logical step. We got pregnant.
Obviously I know that simply having two is no guarantee that their relationship with flourish. I know this because of my own experience. It’s not a question of raising our boys in an environment that reinforces the importance of these relationships. We do that. And I grew up in a home that emphasized the importance of family. Despite that, I know only too well that having a sibling is no guarantee of a connection or meaningful friendship.
My youngest son is approaching 16 months, his older brother will be four later this month. As they grow into their individual personalities and get to know each other better, I’m see the signs of a budding friendship. And it takes my breath away.
For example, my youngest, X, has a passion for hockey. It surprises me that despite how young he is he is naturally quite taken with this sport. His entire day is filled with playing with his miniature hockey stick, trying to hit a little plastic ball, and raising his arms in excitement when he does as if he’s scored the game winning goal.
A few nights ago, he was playing contently with his father, while my oldest ,C, finished up his dinner. What came next, I would never have expected. When he was done, C jumped down from the dinner table. The moment he did, X, toddled (yes, he’s a hockey fiend who’s still discovering his walking legs), over to his daddy, grabbed the stick and brought it right to his big brother, who he apparently really
wanted to play with. This simple, and yet so very meaningful gesture, brought tears to my eyes and filled me with a love and excitement that’s impossible to describe.
They are brothers, and I hope that by virtue of that they will always share a special bond. I’ll do what I can to nurture it along, encouraging them to respect and stand up for each other. But I know the sibling relationship can be complicated. People tend to hurt those closest to them without fear of reproach. That, above all, is what I hope to teach them. To love each other first. To cut no corners when it comes to their connection and their friendship. To apologize. To be honest. To be available.
In this world, I want them to always know they have each other.
Are you close with your siblings? Is there anything you would change about your relationship with them if you could? If you have more than one child, do you help grow their relationship or do you just let it naturally unfold?