Friday, August 14, 2015

The missing sisterhood

Growing up I often felt I was missing out not having a sister. The fact that I was an only child for the first nine or so years didn't concern me half as much, but not having a sister - another girl to share rooms with, clothes with, secrets with & fight with, almost felt like a missing limb. Occasionally now I still wonder what it would be like to have a sister to go out to lunch with, to reminisce together over our shared childhood, to wet our pants with laughter remembering the time Dad singed his eyebrows off after throwing a cupful of petrol on the wood in the combustion fire & then lit it. It felt like a little empty spot not knowing a sisters bond.

Back in the days when children were still a hypothetical, I hoped that our first born would be a boy, followed by a girl & soon after another boy. Then, if we decided to swap our family sedan for a people mover to accommodate more than five people, I envisioned our fourth child would be another girl. The perfect double pigeon paired family. 

When half of my wishes came true, my envisioned boy, girl, boy in the form of Ben, Rianan & Jack, I was almost certain that we were well on our way to the doubled up 'ideal'. When the sonographer pointed out our fourth baby's tackle during the 20 week ultrasound, we were thrilled to have a (near) houseful of boys. Somehow I convinced Doug that five children would be brilliant & Will came along shortly after, irreversibly tipping the scales in favor of the meat & two veg.

When Clay announced his presence via two pink lines & morning sickness that had me head down in the toilet bowl most mornings, we were suprised but no less excited. With a pregnancy that was noticeably different from the last three boys I thought there was a good chance we would be seeing a little squidette on that black & white screen while my belly was covered in cold goop. It was standing room only when we went off for a private early gender reveal scan at 15 weeks, filling the room with ourselves plus the minions. After many ultrasounds I'm fairly well versed in making heads from tails & certainly know what a penis looks like via ultrasound - our boys were not shy when it came to the big reveal. Neither was Clay. Our newest little squid was not a squidette but, well, a squid.

If I said I wasn't quietly disappointed I would be lying. I was excited to start imagining what our future would hold with 5 boys -  soccer balls & footballs all over the back yard, muddy boots by the front door & a stack skateboards by the back door. (Which is exactly what our house looks like - the neighbour is continuously finding balls in her backyard & you have to work your way through the maze of scooters, bikes, skateboards, helmets & shoes just to reach our front door.) But my heart still quietly ached that Rianan would now also be joining the club of the Missing Sisterhood. 

It's hard to voice that disappointment, because it is not to say that our boys are any less awesome, any less wanted or any less loved. The moment I found out we were expecting another child I loved them, when we discovered their genders I fell in love even further & with each little kick, elbow jab, hiccup & body roll I fell even deeper. By the time they were born my heart was filled with so much love it frequently leaks out my eyes. 

It's the potential dream that disappears, saying goodbye to a future that once was possible, now will not be. In the scheme of things it is really quite trivial, especially when you put it next to infertility, miscarriage & stillbirth, cancer, or any other life impacting & heart breaking experience. Though it may be trivial, it still impacted my life, my childhood & friendships. Enough for it to roll around my head for weeks now & to put all those thoughts & feelings into words here. Knowing that Rianan will not know what it is to have a sister. That she might try to seek out that missing limb in close friends, to elusively search for a sisters bond she'll never have. Speaking from experience, it won't measure up or be the same. It was only when I reached my late twenties that I stopped looking to fill that phantom void. That I realised it was simply a dip in the surface & not a desolate space that needed to be filled. 

I may not know what it is to have a sister, or to be the mother of sisters, but my life is not lacking in richness, short of love, or devoid in any way. With a husband who loves me, flaws & all, who gets me & lifts me up in every way, with six incredibly special & unique children who drive me to be better, to do better each day. To have seven people who own my heart. That is lucky enough. Then top it off with beautiful & enriching friendships with women who make me laugh, make me cry & I can be myself with. There is no missing limb. I hope that Rianan, as she grows up surrounded by her brothers, knows that it is a blessing to be a sister even if she doesn't have one herself. And that she doesn't need to fill the shoes of a non existent one either.