Two weeks ago (ish) one of my younger sisters sent us the message that she and her husband were expecting their first child. I completely hate admitting it, but my first reaction wasn’t joy. My heart sank a little. I was jealous.
I’m one of 6 children. My brother and I are from my dad’s first marriage (and our mom’s only), and my four younger sisters are from his second. There’s 11 years between myself and my next youngest sister — the one who’s married and expecting. I’ve never been particularly close with any of my sisters, one of the issues of our age differences — but with this sister, we never really had a good relationship. It’s better now, but we’re not close. Only 2 years between me and my older brother, who has 3 children. It didn’t really bug me when my brother got married or had kids. My eldest niece is 11 — I was a college junior in China when she was born. It was one of those things that, you know, I was on the path to as well. I mean, I was 21 and getting ready to start my adult life, surely that would include settling down and having my own kids, right?
At 32… None of that has happened. I don’t have a career, per say. I don’t have kids. I don’t even have a relationship (and haven’t in years). And here is my little sister, married before she graduated college (in 3 years, no less), and now with a baby on the way. She has the life I thought I would have, the life I thought I wanted.
Do I want a family? Yeah. But is my life lacking because I’m childless and single? Far from it. When I actually stop and look at it. I have a pretty amazing life. I went from college to Chicago, made friends and traveled a lot — had so many adventures with Mucca. And now I’m on a totally new journey through grad school and looking at phD programs. There’s also the issue that I have endometriosis. I’m considering a pretty drastic route for my treatment, and there will be no getting pregnant in my future. That part of my life might not be awesome, but it’s just a fact of my life. But when I’m being honest with myself, I’ve never been excited about infants (or the idea of being responsible for one 24/7) — adoption was always an option.
Sibling envy is a really easy trap to fall into, and it’s quick to turn into sibling resentment. I hear it sometimes when I talk about school and such, and my brother is quick to point out all the things he has and salary he makes without having gone to college. It’s not that he wants me to feel bad, but he wants to reassure himself that his life also has value. In all these comparisons, it’s easy to feel like one person’s route is merely just an attempt to be better than the rest. I’m not going to grad school because I think I’m better or smarter than my siblings. I’m doing it because it’s right for my life and I love it. My little sister isn’t married or having kids before me out of any spite or notion or consideration to me, really, because it’s what’s right for her life.
I love my siblings, and I am very happy for all of them and their journeys. I hope they are for me as well. We may be blood, but we are 6 very different and individualized people. Our paths are bound to be unique. Things will happen at different times or not at all. We’ll end up in various places. So while I might still feel a bit of a pang for the life I once thought I’d have, I can’t let that blind me to the joy that my actual life has. Or from being happy for my sister during a momentous time of her life.