20 September, 2011


"If Calder [her brother] were there he'd tell her how corny she was,
but it wouldn't be what he meant and they'd both know it.

by Deborah Reed

As a first-time-parent-of-one, I often wonder if/when we'll have a second child. I am asked that question by friends, family, even my landlord (who adores my daughter). Along with this seemingly innocent question comes a whole host of other considerations that swirl around in my head...

What would it be like for her to be an only child? Do I want her to have a sibling? Will she eventually want a brother or sister? How will it affect my life to be a parent-of-two? How will it affect hers to be a big sister? What impact will it have one way or the other? What is my responsibility to the global population problem? Do I think it's important for her to have a comrade, a friend, an enemy, an ally (all the things siblings are to one another)? Will it be important as she grows older... or as we grow older? Won't it be easier to share the burden of aging parents between two children? And won't it be a comfort to her as well, to have someone to share life with who can understand just what it is to be Our Child?

Within the excitement of a possible murder, the recognizable heartbreak of a woman left by the man she loves, the empty hole of a stalled career, and the loss of ones held near and dear - for me, at the heart of Deborah Reed's CARRY YOURSELF BACK TO ME a story about the deep connection of siblings shines through. A big sister. A little brother. And all the space and time and growth and memories in-between.

It's hard to explain the emotional ties of sibling-hood to someone who's an only child. But if you have a sibling, if you are a sibling, you'd probably agree that there is a love/hate relationship in place and it changes and shifts in different ways over the years. There are moments when you're on the same team and moments when you don't even want to be in the same room. There are hills of playful banter and great stories, and there are valleys of hurtful words and bitter actions. And yet - these are the very things that help to shape who you'll become and how you fit into this world and why you trust who you trust. And this sibling (or these siblings) will likely be with you for life - in all the wonderful and frustrating ways you've ever imagined... sibling rivalry and sibling revelry.

And that is the thought that makes me want to have another baby. Maybe not too soon. But someday.

For more quotes collected from this book, visit Borrowing Wisdom. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of Deborah Reed's CARRY YOURSELF BACK TO ME to read and discuss as a member of the online book club From Left to Write. The thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own. 
Click here to purchase your own copy of this book.


  1. My husband is an only child. Even though he's seen me and my sister argue (a lot), he felt that he missed out by not having a sibling. So it was important for him that we have more than one child.

  2. This is terrific! My sons are 10 years apart and the older one constantly asked for a sibling before his younger brother came along. Even though they're so far apart in age, they're still very close. It's wonderful to see. While writing this book a study came out about how siblings influence our lives more than anyone else we'll ever know in a lifetime. It definitely helped me to make my case!
    Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to share your personal story.
    All best,

  3. I can't imagine life without my sisters, especially now that I have children of my own. However, I've seen destructive sibling relationships and see how stressful that can be, as well. It all depends on how the dynamics work in each family.

  4. My mother-in-law is an only child, and she is always telling my kids that they are so lucky to have siblings. But my daughter has three good friends who are only children, and they seem to be happy being the "only," so I think it works either way. I love having a big family, though! (We have four)

  5. I had all of the same concerns as you when we decided to have our second. My eldest is autistic so there is the added complication of how that will affect each of them.

    I had a great relationship with my brother, who passed away a few years ago. Remember, though, that you cannot predict what their relationship will be like, so be sure the decision is right for you as well as for them!

  6. I grew up with one foot in each camp: my mother married young and had my four siblings, then after she lost her husband, she married my dad and they had me. My oldest sibling is 13 years older than me and in some respects became more like my mom than my sister. In some ways, I was like an only, because none of them were close in age to me. But I always had the comfort of knowing I had my big brothers or big sisters to lean on. As children I totally lorded my 'adored baby' status over them and annoyed them half to death ;) But as adults I feel like we all have a good relationship.