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Sibling Revelry

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Elizabeth McGuire
Elizabeth McGuire

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 and 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 in our home. 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.