Such a common question. An easy way to keep a conversation going as you get to know someone. My answer has always been yes. However today I am realizing that even though I am the oldest I feel more like an only child. And am probably not far off really.
Being the eldest and old enough to feed them, change diapers, and babysit; it was more like being a little mother. In a way, it was like having the best doll in the world. My dolly actually cried, peed, waved their arms, and had drawers full of outfits to be put into. Much better than any replica doll I ever found for my children. My ‘dolly’ had soft soft skin and smelt delicious like only babies do. My dolly would hug me and follow me around where ever I went. Forever a faithful shadow even when I no longer wanted one.
When I was dating a test question was always, ‘are you prepared to help me raise my siblings?’ It wasn’t exactly a first date question. Definitely came up if things ever looked mildly serious. My ex-husband used to wonder how the heck I knew I would be raising my siblings as my own. He must have thought I had some sort of psychic power. In hindsight, the man had no clue the kind of woman I was and certainly didn’t know how to walk the path I found the strength to walk. With a smile, I might add.
I had no idea my mother would pass much too young. Never once did I dream we would be orphans with me barely legally old enough to claim them as my own.
I did, however, believe for years that my siblings would question the lifestyle that they were born into and leave. Go in search of more. More knowledge, more answers, more choices. The same things I had searched for but didn’t know how. The same questions I asked and didn’t find the answer for until long past searching for them. Maybe my questions were unusual for no one seemed to have the answers. Or maybe in my shame and low self-esteem I was surrounding myself with those that wouldn’t know. People that had those same questions but didn’t speak them aloud as I did.
What I know now I didn’t even know to think of. The options I see now I was unaware of. Unable to find the way there. Blinded by fear and self-consciousness I hid in a haze. Playing like a grasshopper instead of being a worker ant. In case your unfamiliar with that analogy let me tell you the story I heard.
There was a grasshopper who played all summer long. Teasing the ant for working so hard when he could be playing as the grasshopper was. Come winter the grasshopper was cold and hungry and came to the ant begging for food. Now, who was laughing…?
So back to the sibling question I started with. I answer but never truly never from the heart for the answer is complicated. Yes is a simple answer. I lie, deflect, or discuss my baby brother who I adore as my own. Tears of love stinging my eyes when I mention him.