Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I once was an only child

Yes, that is the truth. For nearly the first decade of my life I was not only the only child, but the only grandchild as well. For a time in my early consciousness I had eight living grandmothers, in varying degrees of great-ness. It was an almost deliriously blissful beginning, and was constantly reassured by my mother that it was a fairly firm circumstance. Then, around the time I was moving from childhood I found myself dragged into sibling-hood. I had early high hopes for the condition, but soon learned the crying red blob of humanity my parents brought home from the hospital was no use at all as a playmate. My "sister", as they called it, lay drooling, staring and crying on a pallet, surrounded by the toys I had hoped to interest her in. The early days lacked luster, as you can no doubt tell.
Then, as said sibling settled in to our home, and into my heart, I started finding real joy in my miniature motherhood. I loved changing diapers, helping with baths, and rocking to sleep. As she grew slightly older, and morphed once again from chubby crawler into cherub cheeked toddler, my job changed to official baby chaser. "Laine, catch your sister" was a refrain heard for years on end. I crawled under locked dressing room doors, ran up the down escalator, and searched through stuffed circular clothing racks more times than I can actually count. She moved from her crib into my bed, where she firmly planted herself until I revolted at about fifteen years of age. That is when the true changes began-teenagers have little time for children, and small children that live in their home and get into their things are even worse. By the time I moved out to attend college my sister was little more than a blip on my radar screen, I'm sad to say. But then, after college, I moved home again.
Early adulthood is a difficult time for everyone, and I found extreme comfort in once again being home, and once again sharing a bed with my "baby" sister. By that time she was an early teen, and instead of fighting over stuffed animals at night we stayed up giggling over boys and secrets. My baby sister started morphing from sibling to friend. The difference in our ages seemed to be waning. By the time I married at 23 my sister had firmly established herself as my most trusted confidant. She was my maid of honor in 1996, and I was hers in 2001. By that point she had become my "person"-you know, the ONE person in the world that I could literally say anything at all to, and not worry about censure or judgement. The one person who I knew would be there for me in absolutely any circumstance, and would be beside me until the end of my life. The person to whom I go when life just gets crazy/overwhelming/crushing. She's the one who picks up the banner and rides into battle if I'm threatened. And of course, the reverse is true. You do not want to see me when someone hurts my baby sister. There is fire in my eyes, and smoke coming from my nose. Yes, I have a husband that I adore more than any other person in the entire world, but there is just really something enormous about the sister/sister bond. My sister and I fully intend to live into ripe old age, with both our hubbies in the attic, surrounded by a collection of toy size dogs.
Two years ago my sister gave birth to my niece, Audrey Laine. Having never been able to have children myself I watched her pregnancy like a mother hen. Our first trip to Italy was cancelled when 'Little Miss' decided that she might just go ahead and get herself born about three months early. Then, due to sisters hubbies queasy constitution I got to be the official 'birth coach'. I was the one helping her breathe/push/breathe, and at the same time keeping her from decapitating my mother who got a wee bit hysterical in the delivery room (sister had heard that women who commit murder while in delivery are always acquitted). So now, my 'baby' has had a baby of her own. She's given me the joy of being a grandmother without ever having to be a mother myself. Once again, she's the source of some of the greatest joy of my life.
So yes, I started life as an only child. It was a blissful state, while it lasted. However, I cannot count the reasons I'm glad I won't end life that way.