Monday, May 27, 2013

Do I Miss You?

Dear sibling who wasn't to be,

A conversation with a friend the other day got me thinking about you, or rather the lack of you. And now as I sit bundled up in bed, fighting a nasty bout of the flu, I let my mind wander and I wonder what it would have been like with you in my life? 

The idea of you was very appealing to me when I was a little girl. All my friends had siblings and the lack of you was very “obvious” then. Parents of my friends who knew I was an only, would look at me, shake their heads and go “Oh ho”, as if I had a dreadful illness or something.

I was that child who NEVER shared her food and snapped when someone touched her toys, all because you weren't there to teach me how to share. I was also that child who’d go and cling to my mother like a leech if I saw her carry someone else’s baby. “Put the baby down”, I would wail to her embarrassment. I was afraid she’s leave me for that child. If you were around, maybe I would never have done that.

I strongly believe that it is truly wonderful to be an only child, primarily because how complete I am in myself. I am an independent little unit ,which is something I quite like. Your absence was made up by an assortment of wonderful pets one after the other (and what if you had an allergy to cats or dogs, then I would never have had pets and that would have been awful). But…there’s always a “but”. There are awkward moments when we’re in a group and friends swap stories about their siblings, or share picture of themselves with their brothers and sisters and I smile because I don’t have anything similar to share. Or at times I shrug and nod during these “sibling talk” sessions, because I don’t have anything appropriate to say.

As a little girl I asked my parents why I didn't have a brother or sister, everyone else had one. It seemed like something everyone had to have. In response to my questions on your absence, my parents would look at each other and mumbled something I never quite understood. I was a child, I had a short memory and your absence was forgotten for a while.

Your absence taught me how to amuse myself. I would sit on the floor in front of my mother’s dressing table with all my toys and talk to my image in the mirror, imagining it was another child. That could have been “our” mother and “our” toys you know; I can scarcely imagine that now! Was it you I imagined my image to be, or was it some other random child, I don’t know? The lack of you meant I didn't need anyone around to entertain me or keep me busy. Yes, I had an imaginary friend who I’d pretend to talk to and play with, but that was that.  I was happy in my own company, playing with my toys and making up stories in my head as I went along.

 I wonder what it would have been like to share my playtime with you. Would you have been bossy and aggressive? Would you have been rough with my toys I was so careful with? Would you have pulled my dolls’ hair or broken my Fisherprice kitchen stove set, which had knobs that turned on and off? Would you have always wanted to play with the toys I wanted to play with? These are things I will never know.

Even if you were to have been around, I would have liked you to be a girl and be younger than me, or even a twin would have been fine. In fact I can imagine how much fun it would have been if we had been identical twins! There was no way I was going to be younger and be bossed around by you- no, no, that just wouldn't have felt right. Had you been a boy, I can’t imagine what that would have been like. Would you have been an aggressive and loud and sweaty boy who insisted on being outdoors most of the time and come home thirsty and red faced from the sun, or would you have been a quiet little chap, with curly hair like mine, who would sit on his little wicker chair, reading his books and minding his own business?

The absence of you in my life gave me so much more my friends with siblings never had. Your absence gave me my parent’s undivided attention. If I were to be superficial, your absence gave me foreign vacations with my parents every summer, it gave me the best clothes and shoes and toys and the best of everything my parents thought they should give me. I would go through my things as a child and know they were all “foreign” and that would make me happy. Maybe if you were around then that wouldn't have been the case. Maybe then “our” mother would have bought “us” pencil cases from a local stationery shop in the neighbourhood, but your absence meant I got to choose my own Mickey Mouse pencil case when my parents took me to Disney Land.

But most of all, the lack of you gave me the best memories with my parents. Our “family” photo in the living room looked perfect with the three of us in it smiling at the camera; that photo frame had no room for a fourth. Your absence in my life was becoming less obvious. And as I grew older, I’m sorry, but I completely forgot about you.  Your absence became completely irrelevant to me.

There are things I suppose I miss without you being around. Like the fact that I will never be able to look at someone roughly my own age and know that we both share the same parents, the same DNA and the same last name. I will never know what it would be to share a room with someone. I will never know how it would have felt to complain to you about “our” parents, on days when I’d get a telling off from them. Would you have been sympathetic, or would you have mocked me? And today as I lie in bed, flue-ed out and feeling completely miserable, would you have come by to my place with a box of chocolates and made me a hot cup of coffee and chatted about this and that? Or would you have just sent me a cold and distant text message saying “Feel better soon”, or something equally lame. I will never know.

Apart from the material convenience your absence gave me, it also gave me an immense confidence and sense of independence I’m very proud of. I make friends easily and am easy to get along with. I don’t need “company” all the time love my alone time and get cranky when “other people” try and step into my territory (I take “my side” of the bed very seriously).

I will never know you and I try and imagine what our relationship might have been like. We may have been those super competitive siblings, always trying to outdo the other. Sibling rivalry they call it, I believe. But then we may have also shared one of those “love-hate” relationships, where we would have always been hot and cold with each other. But then again you could have turned out to be a complete jerk who I would have hated. Or who knows, you may have been a wonderful person, who I loved and who I loved loving.

You can never be part of my life now, it’s too late for you to make an appearance and I love being an only child. Your absence means I’m very content and complete with myself. This may sound selfish to some people, but then being an only child wasn't a decision I made.

Do I miss you, I really don’t know? 


(This post was written some time back when I was ill, hence the references to the flu.) 

Note: This post was inspired by a similar post here







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