At the start of this new year, instead of making a bunch of resolutions, I made a few lists in answer to the following questions:
- What should I start? What should I stop?
- What should I do more? What should I do less?
- What should I continue?
- What should I be grateful for?
The first thing I felt compelled to answer to the last question was, “My siblings.”
Some of the reasons were obvious. I’d been through a tough year, and my brothers and sisters, each in his or her own way, helped me through it. They reminded me with their words and actions that I didn’t have to struggle alone.
But on further reflection, I realized something else: I am grateful for my siblings because, even if I don’t ever get to be a mother, their presence in my life made it possible for me to experience what motherhood is.
I changed their diapers, fed them, soothed them to sleep, played with them, scolded them, took care of them when they were sick or hurt, received their confidences, gave them advice.
I don’t have children of my own, and maybe I never will, but thanks to the part I was able to play in raising my brothers and sisters, I don’t feel like I’ve missed out.
Now my siblings are all grown up, and a new generation has started.
When my sister gave birth to my nephew twelve years ago, and I saw his little face for the first time, I fell in love. To this day I can’t fully explain the feeling I had, the awareness that this baby was my sister’s, but also my own. He was a part of me, and he came straight into my heart, into a place that nobody else had occupied before, and there he has stayed.
A few days ago, my brother became a father, and the miracle is happening all over again.
Children, I’ve come to find, open up spaces in your life and in your heart that you never knew you had. Without them, how narrow indeed my world would be.