I can smell an only child from a million miles away.

They're confident and magnetic. They're interesting but also genuinely interested in others. They make no apologies for who they are. They're the Kings and Queens of Cool.

In fact, they're so likable that people give them a free pass when they unknowingly dominate conversations with their strong opinions, countless stories, and quirky stream of consciousness.

Adults who grew up as an only child speak as if everything that comes out of their mouths is important, for the mere fact that it came out of their mouths.

My husband, the quintessential only child, says that when you live in a household with only 3 people in it and you're the cutest one of the bunch, you're damn right all of your thoughts are important!

However, there are benefits to growing up in a medium-sized to large family, too—namely, the mere blessing of having siblings.

One night I was in the car with my older brother. He was playing me a recording of his folk/ country band's latest rehearsal.

I started crying.

And when he asked why, I said it was because their music was utterly gorgeous. But that was only half of the reason.

The other reason why I was a weepy, sniffling fool as we drove through the dark streets that night was because I love my big brother even more so now that we're adults. And when I hear beautiful music I think of him because music is where our lives intersect. He and I have an unspoken and subtle bond that is different from how I relate to my older sister (who is one of my best friends), and not quite as visible as how I relate to my younger brother (who makes the best side-kick).

Siblings are the only people who have known you all your life, and will continue to know you for whatever is left of it. When jobs, pets, and significant others come and go, your siblings remain the same. They will help you raise your children, and you will help them raise theirs. They will understand exactly what you mean when you b*tch about your parents. And I guarantee you that your siblings will be the ones you hold onto for dear life after your parents die, and you suddenly realize that neither you, nor anyone in your family, will live forever.

I'm not saying it's always easy to get along with your siblings. (Mine used to tie me up and put me in the oven. They never turned it on, but still.)

However, I think we should strive to become better people because of them.

That means opening up to the joy they can bring us, and being grateful when they do. It also means making peace with those siblings who get on our last nerve, and forgiving the ones who contributed to whatever complex we may have. Because that's what grown-up siblings do.

Build a beautiful life with your siblings in it, however that may look. One day you'll be glad you did.

Copyright Kimberly Eclipse

Read more of this writer's PG-13 antics at A Brave Life.

About the Author

Kimberly Eclipse, M.A., M.S.Ed.

Kimberly Russell, M.A., M.S.Ed., a counselor and educator, runs a creative studio and small business with her husband.

You are reading

How to Be a Grown-Up

Moms Are People Too, Kind Of

The ultimate Mother's Day gift to mom: seeing who she is beyond motherhood.

How to Forgive Someone You Hate

Forgiveness is a (long, crappy, doable) process.

How to Work Through an Existential Crisis

Move past your existential crisis by listening to yourself talk.