Saturday, August 18, 2012

An "Ah-Ha" Moment

Sibling spacing... some people like to have kids close together, some farther apart. I'm not sure there is a "best" way to space your children (assuming infertility cooperates) but I have spent a lot of time thinking about it, nonetheless.

A lot of my thoughts on sibling spacing are guided by my relationships with my siblings. I have a half-brother that is 17 years older than me, a half-sister that is 15 years older than me, and a brother that is about 2 years older than me.

Obviously, there were extenuating circumstances that created the large spacing between my brother and I and our half-siblings. We have some shared history, but we have never had a close relationship. But I don't spend much time examining those relationships.

It's the relationship with my brother that is 2 years older than me that I constantly mull in my head. My mom always like to comment about how much my brother loved me when I was born. I guess things went great for a couple of years and then we started fighting like cats and dogs. We were really mean to each other growing up. And now that we're adults, our deep, juvenile hatred towards each other really perplexes me.

Would it have helped if we were born closer together or farther apart?

So the Ah-Ha moment came the other night when I was watching a webinar for an internet "parenting counselor" (not interested, but the webinar was interesting). The woman leading the webinar was talking about how siblings like to fight when mom gets on the phone because they know that will get her off the phone and paying attention to them. This statement was an example about how children have to feel sufficient belonging/love or they will act out (something that I wholeheartedly believe).

My mom is mentally ill. I won't go into all the ways, but for this post you really only need to know that she talks NONFREAKINGSTOP and never allows anyone else to talk and totally ignores cues from others during conversations. She'll tell you the same story 20 times over. She's an awful gossip and would spend hours on the phone every night ragging on co-workers. Once you get reeled into a conversation with her, it's impossible to get out and you will do whatever you can to avoid having another with her. I really can't explain how miserable it is being around her, it's just something you have to experience.

So, AH-HA, I really think me and my brother's fighting was a directly result of the total lack of attention she paid to us. And she wasn't just a little negligent when it came to my brother and I.. she's full on cra-cra, so my brother and I really had to escalate our fighting to an extreme to get her attention. Hence, me and my brother's bloodlust.

In addition to being total narcissist, my mom manipulated us pretty badly too and constantly played favorites, woke us up in the middle of the night to clean and scream at us.... So there is a lot more there, but I had never really be able to wrap my head around why we physically fought with each other so much until that moment.

So the spacing between children is probably a lot less important than being a good parent.



Rachel said...

I'm so surprised that there are no comments here yet. I also wonder about siblings. Definitely wanted to have more than one baby so that my daughter could have the experience of having a sibling ... and yet I am not at all close to my sister (and I happen to think we had a fairly charmed childhood, even if things got slightly rough later). I wonder if my kids, who are -so- close now will remain close, and I always ask my friends who are part of those delightful sibling sets who remain friends as adults (2 good friends are not yet married and live with their siblings by choice) how their relationship was built.

Michelle said...

I couldn't agree with you more! My brother and I were constantly fighting as well, and my mother never had time for us either. Unless we were getting yelled at.
With the fostering experience, I've been learning how to devote my time between the kids, with positive attitude and attention and hoping that would help to keep everyone happier and getting along. And I've made a promise to myself that I will do everything in my power to do better than my childhood was.

Unceasing, uninterrupted Valkyrie said...

My sister and I are 12 years apart. I would say that while we clearly didnt grow up together we were close. Our shared exp with crazy parents and circumstances glued us together. Unfortunatly though, the way that we delt with our hand is what drove us apart. My sister turned to drug use and generally leach behavior. And i did not.

I have also often thought about this. We only became close after I became an adult, before then we had lil contact with eachother. Had we not had such a hard upbringing we would have come together? I personally want my children to be close together in age.