Friday, September 16, 2011

you will not always want to strangle your siblings

When one (or more) of my children comes to me with exasperation on his/her breath and a promise to sever family ties with a sibling who has been poking them with the vexing stick, I tell them they will not always feel this way. One day, if I have done my job well, they will not all be living under the same roof. Time and space will allow them to flourish into their own unique and compelling personalities. They will learn to cultivate compassion for others, even their siblings.

One day, when they begin to feel the tightening grip of grown- up responsibility and obligation, they will long for the blithe days of their youth. They will softly land in the reverie of the home and family life of their childhood, the holidays and ordinary moments of merriment. Inevitably their siblings will be woven into this anamnesis. And they will find themselves pining for a reunion with their brothers and sisters.

They doubt me each time I tell them how it will be. But, I remember life with my siblings. I remember days of irritation and resentment. I also remember a long period of apathy for one another - coexisting with minimal interest or interaction. We loved each other because our parents told us, "You must!"

It was not until I had my first baby that I understood the true value of my sister, Bug, who is 2 1/2 years younger than me. Nearly every day of the first month of his life, she showed up at my door to hold First Born Son in her arms. Our time was not filled with conversation. It was crocheted with quiet acceptance and appreciation. She gave me the gift of time-for a shower, for a meal. The fact that she understood what I needed without asking made me realize that she truly loved me- that we were beyond the place where our parents forced us into sibling servitude. This was genuine.

Bug moved away when Princess Commando was three years old. My heart broke. And ever since she left, we have been wishing her back. The moon and the stars must have heard us- we must have done something right because next week my sister and her family are moving home for good. Our family will be whole again. And finally we will be able to perform musical numbers such as this:

Happy Friday!

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