Siblings? Or Not?
Posted by Debbie Mumford
A lot of the fantasy stories I write are themed around family dynamics…the main character’s search for where s/he fits, coming to terms with who (and often *what*) s/he is. Which leads me to examine my own family dynamics; my own search for significance.
So where do you fit in your family? Are you a first-born—responsible, helping your folks keep track of the younger rug-rats; a middle-kid—occasionally feeling lost in the shuffle; the baby—sometimes spoiled, sometimes resentful that everyone treats you like an infant; or are you an only child?
If you’re the one and only, do you wish you had sibs?
If you have brothers and sisters, do you find yourself wishing you had your folks to yourself?
Well, I’m in a unique position to tell you there are pros and cons to both sides of the question. I’m an only child…with five brothers. No, seriously, that’s my actual position in my nuclear family. I have five sibs (all guys), but I was raised as a one and only due to the extreme difference in our ages. (I have a nephew just a few months my junior.) It’s an odd alignment, but it’s the only one I’ve ever known.
So, depending on how you look at it, I’m the baby of six, or I’m an only child. Bizarre, huh?
Like the heroine of one of my short stories, I was blessed (cursed?) with a mom who was wise to the ways of kids. By the time I was old enough to pull shenanigans, I knew I’d have to be very crafty to put anything past Mom. Fortunately, I’m smart…and female. Mom was accustomed to dealing with boys, so I managed to elude the parental units on a number of occasions.
Of course, I also had a bad case of youngest child syndrome—the need to please. Everyone else had already made their mark. What was left for me to excel in? Not much time for rule-breaking when you’re trying to measure up to (and surpass if possible) five excellent brothers!
So what effects have you noticed on your tough-as-iron yet delicate-as-a-butterfly’s-wing psyche that you can chalk up to birth order and the presence or absence of sibs?