The question of whether or not we’re “one and done” has been on our minds a lot lately. Now that Lady Jr is less of a handful. Now that we can think. Now that Dr Lady is feeling her own biological clock ticking. Every year we pay for storage for other vials, we face this choice. Will Lady Jr have a sibling? Or will she be an only child?
There are a lot of things to consider, not least of which are my own feelings about siblings. Every time I’ve seen someone argue that by having an only child, the parents are depriving their kid of a lifelong friend I want to lash out. Anger surges in my chest and my throat tightens and it takes all of my willpower to walk away. And before I can properly give this question, for us, its due, I need to ask myself why I have such a visceral response to that statement. Where am I coming from, and how does that color my choices?
Because, to be brutally honest, my brother and I have a horrible relationship. With age, it’s faded from hate and disdain to an uneasy truce. I thought I’d moved past whatever happened between us growing up. I finally have the life I’ve dreamed of, I finally have something to be proud of, so much to celebrate –
…yet not one word from my brother. No sign he even knows I exist. And out of all the congrats and love I’ve received, I noticed that. And it hurts. And I’m surprised it hurts. And yet I shouldn’t be surprised it hurts.
I idolized my brother growing up. Fuck, I can’t help it – I still kind of do. When I was in fourth grade, I tested in to the gifted program after having failed the test before. I barely passed. My mom told me I had a choice – I didn’t have to go into the program. But I insisted – because my brother was in it.
I followed him around the neighborhood, played with him and the other boys on bikes and with supersoakers. We ran behind houses and crawled through bushes together. Discovered the Florida swamp, climbed up giant mounds of dirt at construction sites, kept secrets together. Then, one day, something changed. He and the other boys chased me away. He blamed me for everything. He closed his door and shut me out. He got violent. Once, I walked by him sitting on the couch and he grabbed the flesh of my elbow and dug in his nails so deep he drew blood. For no reason except that I’d walked by.
He resented me and I still don’t know why. And to this day, I still want his approval. I brag about my cool, helicopter-flying, Navy brother. I ask him what he’s up to. I befriend his wife. Yet…
So yeah. Maybe that’s why I get such a visceral response when people make it out like having an only child is akin to abuse. And maybe that’s why I’m a little afraid of having another. I can’t help but wonder: if we have a second, will it ruin Lady Jr? Will she resent us and her sibling? How can I possibly make sure whatever happened between me and my brother doesn’t happen to her when I don’t even know what happened?
I don’t know. But I do know I need to work through this before I can make a rational decision. Thankfully, we still have some time.