A lot of childhood memories have been floating up to the surface, which I attribute to my wrestling with having an only-child vs. having another child spaced 4-5 years apart. When thinking about all-things-kid-related imagining into the future starts with progressing into the past in order to see…how would I have felt, which is narcissistic at it’s core (because Potamus is not me), but that’s what I’m working with right now. And so, imagining a 4-5 year age spread means going back into my past and remembering what it was like when my sister was
born…er…adopted into my family.
I was 5.
We drove from Seattle to Oregon where she had been born.
We had a necklace or some other gift that my brother (2 years younger than me) walked up to the lady in the hospital bed, and gave to her. I think we said something like “thank you,” and that’s all I remember (more could be said about this bizarre memory, as it was a concrete experience of what adoption-birthfamilies was, but I didn’t really analyze that until older). The next thing I remember is we were on our way home, somewhere up I-5 and I realized…I had left my favorite Skipper doll in the hospital.
And they wouldn’t go back to get my Skipper doll.
We came home with a baby, and I lost my doll.
And I lost my position in the family as the only girl.
And I was at an age where I was embracing my princess-tomboy style, but I was clearly no longer the only girl, and she, in all her tiny bundle of joyness, became the family princess.
I don’t remember much about my sister until she was in pre-school. Coming home on the first day, eagerly declaring “I like TEN BOYS in my class, there’s Jordan, Taylor, etc,” and me saying “that’s not how it works. You don’t get to like more than one boy at a time. you grow up and marry one person.” But she was always the princess. And I grew into a new role…the protector.
Both jealous and protective of this fragile, dainty, cheerleading popular kiddo (who grew into a fragile, dainty, cheerleading popular, fashionable adult), who was so different than me, and mostly annoyed me. We shared a room and she wanted to talk all night. I wanted to sleep. She wanted to play dress up. I wanted to read. But in preschool, I remember a photo of her was taken. She was holding a plastic pan, and looks caught by surprise. And it was hanging on our mirror the time I had the dream.
In the dream, we were in Disneyland, and she died.
I was horrified.
I woke up crying.
I carried that picture with me until I hit college (and she stole it back) because that’s how I remembered her, so young and innocent and for me to protect as her big sister.
And so, I think about things like that when I think about having another baby someday. That the dynamic will change. That there will be complicating factors and emotions and memories that Potamus will have of the time he had alone and the time he had when the sibling enters the scene. It will be different than my own memories. And if he doesn’t have a sibling he will not have those memories to look back on. It’s complicated and emotional on many different levels.
My relationship with my sister is currently also complicated. I will always be her big sister, protective, blunt, and loyal, but also jealous of her carefree swagger.