Saturday, February 24, 2007

Saturday Soapbox

I was talking to a friend the other day about how it doesn't seem like we will be able to have another child. And honestly, I'm working on being ok with that.
I was trying to explain my dislike of having a large gap in between children, using myself and my sister as an example. There are five and a half years between us, and even though we are close now, it couldn't have been more opposite while we were growing up.

I was the rather unwelcome intruder, my sister told me there was no real build-up to my birth, or a big discussion on how she was going to be a big sister. To her, it seemed like one day she was ruler of the roost, and the next there was a loud, colicky newborn to interrupt her life as she knew it.

The main thing I remember is that we always operated in completely different spheres. We were never developmentally anywhere near each other. I was in grade school, she was in middle. I was in middle, she was in high school. And with her being so much older, she had a serious complex about how much dumber I was than her. Well, duh! A five year old cannot hope to compete with a ten year old. She didn't see it that way, and chose to lord her superiority over me every chance she got.

Also, and perhaps this is more the burden of the youngest child, I always had to tag along to her events. And I hated it. Gina had lots of homework? Oh well, spread your stuff out on the bleachers, your sister has a basketball game. Did I as an 8th grader particularly want to see the high school production of Antigone, with my sister in the title role? Nope. But, it didn't matter. No one other than immediate family was ever my babysitter, and even that did not occur with any frequency. Making alternate arrangements for me when they had something with my sister just wasn't even in their mindset.

Being forced to do things with her did not induce any type of closeness. It just made us more resentful. I was too young to really care about what she was doing, and she was too old to care about what I was doing. She was resentful whenever she had to watch me, me resentful of her having to watch me instead of somebody who didn't order me around just because she could.

After many years of conflict, we started to become close in my mid-twenties. Yes, it took that long. I'm sure I can't place all the blame on our respective ages, but it sure didn't help.

And, as far as big families are concerned, I have Hubba-hubba's as my closest and most intimate example. His mother had ten brothers and sisters, his father, ten. Hubba-hubba himself is the fourth of five. At family functions, there are so many people that things get lost in the shuffle. Hubba-hubba was ignored a lot, the classic middle child syndrome. He was left to his own devices most of the time, as were his brothers. His parents didn't have time to go to every child's baseball game or school play. In fact, his father was so busy trying to provide for seven people that he was rarely home. There was no such thing as "alone" time with mom and dad.

I may just be trying to justify having one child. But really, why should I? However, it seems that people sort of look down on you if you only have one. As if you are "depriving" the child of something. As if having a sibling means that they will become a better person. Or, that you aren't a "real" parent unless you've had more than one. Because, it's so much harder to have more than one, and you just aren't in the club if you haven't dealt with more than one set of diapers and teething and toilet training.

I'm no less of a parent because I have a single child, and someone with more children is no more of a parent than me. But it seems that in their private hearts, a lot of people disagree with me.

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