Last summer Adam and I were at a get-together for his swim team. I took Cole with me and we were chatting with a man who has nine brothers and sisters. Yes, his parents had TEN kids! And, yes, they are Catholic.
"You know, though, you've given them the best gift, right?" he said referring to our children.
"Each other?" I guessed and he nodded.
It's stuck with me since then. See, I don't think the best thing you can give a child is a sibling. Why? Well, what if you CAN'T. What if you want to have another child and can't? Have you jipped your kid on something?
But what if you do? What if you have lots and lots of babies? What if your kids of tons of siblings? Are you setting them up to be happy, well adjusted and good with babies?
See, I don't think there's anything wrong with having one child. I understand that the parents might feel pain and suffering from wanting something they can't have. I get that. I understand that there are sibling interactions that only children, even those with oddles of friends and playmates, cannot have.
As I tell anyone, there are pluses and minses to having one child and to having multiple children. I can't tell anyone what is right for their family since I am not in their family.
But the greatest gift? I don't know. It's no secert that my siblings and I aren't buddy-buddy or besty friends. We get along "eh".
I look at my children and of course I think about my childhood and my brother and sister. I think about how they shaped me. The family I created with Adam is much different from the family I grew up in (4 kids in 5 years, each set less than 2 years apart vs 3 kids in 8 years, all four years apart) so I can't even wager a guess as to how my kids will interact with each other.
I've been looking at Georgie and studying him lately, thinking about what the future holds. What will my kids think of all the "special" foods he has and "special" attention from therapists? What will HE think about it? How will they view him when they realize he needed more, so much more, than they do?
I'd like to think that Joseph will take out anyone who dares mess with George. He loves his little brother and is so kind and gentle with him. I'd like to think that Camille will never let Georgie get away with anything and will push him to talk. And that Cole will be there, along for the ride, adoring his big brother because every big brother needs a fan club.
The truth is, I don't know. I do know that Georgie is a wonderful gift to our family and that God knew EXACTLY what he needed when He sent us Cole, just 16 months after Georgie. I know that growing up as the oldest of the youngest set is perfect for OUR special boy and that is just what OUR special boy needs.
Are his siblings the greatest gift we have given him? I don't know.
I hope so.