I never wanted a child. I always wanted children.

Siblings, confidantes, compadres, chums. Tattlers, teachers, accomplices, antagonists. Rivals, secret-keepers, scapegoats and partners-in-crime. Mentors and tormentors.

I wanted wagon pullers, swing pushers, fort builders and sand-castle destroyers. I wanted a full table, too many backpacks, and commas on our Christmas card.

I wanted a firstborn, a middle, a baby. I wanted to marvel at both the reliable and the shattered stereotypes. I wanted shifting alliances and third wheels. Teamwork and the circling of wagons.

For better or worse, I wanted individual players in the ultimate team sport. Sharing the same space, fighting for the same oxygen. Believe it or not, I wanted splash fights, inane arguments, thrown elbows in the hallway, imaginary Do Not Cross or Else! lines.

I wanted Your fault! Get out of my room! Gimme that back! No fair!  Because I knew, if thoughtfully tended, these battles could give birth to the flip side: The impromptu hugs. The late night whispers. The collaborations and negotiations. The I’m sorry. That’s OK. Sure you can come inside my hideout.

I never anticipated how immense the task would be, but I even wanted the challenge of finding energy for each unique personality. I wanted to stretch and defy my expectations, again and again and again, about what children (my children) are supposedly like. I wanted to learn to see, truly see, the individual before me. To make every child feel heard though their hearts speak entirely different languages.

There are countless moments–flash floods of drama and aggravation–when I forget how much I longed for this gift of siblinghood. But desires this deep are not easily dismissed.

And it often takes just one sidelong look, one inside joke, one tender gesture, to bring me back to my dreams and watch them come alive right before my eyes.

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If you liked this post, consider giving me a vote in BlogHer’s Voices of the Year. Sibling Revelry is nominated in the Visuals category. My mother-daughter story, On Being Nine, is nominated in the Heart category. Thanks, y’all!


  1. So, so true. Every word. I wanted that too for my family, unlike the family I grew up in. With 4 kids spread out 17 years, it was hard to ever feel a part of the posse, especially if one was at the tail end. What a gift to give to your children. Community.

  2. tearing up over here. truly. I’m one of 6 – and while we’re not always ‘in like’ with each other, we definitely have a love no one else shares.

    i love that my boys have each other. such a great reminder.

  3. My three are all grown up now, but I remember those moments, both tender and teary, that cemented the relationships they have as adults. And when my daughter, a mom herself and a brand new aunt, took time off work to fly across the country just so she could meet her baby nephew and help out–it warmed my heart. All three kids were in each other’s weddings, they make each other laugh like no one else can, and the times we’re all together are rare, but golden. You have so many wonderful things ahead!

  4. I loved this. :) I also think it funny that I wrote a post on “siblings” today and then popped over here tonight to find you talking about the same thing. Great minds think alike. :)

  5. I love this post. Fostering relationships while taking the time to know and appreciate the individual is, to me, one of the hardest parts of the job. You described it so well here!

  6. Thank you. Matt Russell pointed me towards your writing a year or two ago. I have read every post since then. There are days when it is hard to find these dreams in the midst of life. It is strange that life can somehow be the dreams and and at the same time disguise them. On those days when the dreams are hard to see it is so helpful for me to have someone else who sees their own and who is willing and able to share them so clearly and beautifully. Thank you, again.

  7. Some secrets should be kept longer than the evening of his wedding rehersal toast…….. like putting polish on his toes. Just saying.

  8. This is so beautiful! I believe that the BIGGEST gift my parents ever gave me was my brothers. I hope that my kids feel the same way about their siblings when they get older……

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