Sister Number One

Sister Number One

A Story by Foxemerald

A journal that I recently wrote for my therapist about when my sister was born ~


Journal 19 May 

Sister Number One

When I was seven my sister was born. I remember being a six year old kid telling my parents that I really wanted a sibling, and how lonely I felt that the rest of the kids in my class at school all had brothers and sisters. I seemed to have been the only one in the class who was an only child and I desperately wanted a little playmate of my own. My parents seemed dubious about it, maybe even a little concerned, but what is interesting is that they took my thoughts about it into consideration at all, in fact- I may have been the sole consultant in that conversation. They said to me, ‘are you sure?’ several times, and I stomped my foot at them and said with all of the stubbornness my little six year old body could muster, ‘yes. I want a little brother or sister.’ They actually seemed a little reluctant, especially my father, who I know from later conversations I had with my mother as an adult, probably only wanted one. Within a few months it seemed, of this talk, my mother was pregnant with my sister regardless. She was born when I was seven.

When Zoey was born I was at first as excited as any little kid would be at the prospect of having a new family member. It didn’t take long though for another feeling to set in- or me to become aware of the fact that I was becoming steadily more jealous of the family’s brand new, ‘bundle from Heaven.’ She was born a month early but was still a seven pound baby, and was extremely pink and raw when she was delivered. When I was older they told me that my dad was terrified he would lose both my mom and the baby, and that there were many complications when she was having her. Zoey turned out to be normal and was not impacted by the hardship in any telling way, and neither, fortunately, was my mother; as a consequence however, of perhaps the pregnancy itself a separate genetic problem, she was born with extremely bad acid reflux and a poor immune system. I remember being traumatized when we took family trips for the first five years in the wake of her birth, when they would put me in the backseat with my sister and she would, randomly, start to puke up everything they had given her to eat. I cried and cried as big, fat chunks of extremely foody vomit rolled out of her, and she regurgitated the most disgusting looking inner mush. I cried for my parents to not make me sit in the backseat with her anymore. They didn’t listen. 

“It isn’t her fault,” my mother would scold me, “grow up Brooke!” I mean mom, really? I was an eight year old! 

I can remember every single vomit story that took place, and two particularly nasty ones that marked trips to Tennessee we took. We went to visit my paternal grandmother every summer, and these were the events I really looked forward to, in those early years; I had been my grandmother’s ‘number one’ as she called me, since I was a babe in the crib, as was alo the case in the relationship I had with my closest aunt, Saundra (who I called Saunie), my dad’s sister. I was treated like I was special by everyone during the time leading up to Zoey’s entrance into the family, those first seven years, and felt, in a sense, that these people belonged to me. My Saunie, my grandma . . . my grandmother told me I had beautiful blue eyes just like her, and always said I was special to her . . . how was it that we had ‘two number ones?’ When we got a little bit older, and Zoey started whining, saying that she was also number one, I said “no! I’m number one! You are number two!” How could she come in and take my place? There could only be one number one, not two of them. She had to be number two. 

My grandmother would always reassure me during these moments that no one would ever take my place, and I believed her, and I felt that in her heart she still thought of me as her number one but just couldn’t say it? I mean, I was special. There was no way she would let anyone take my place- there was no way we were equal. She would try other ways to console me, and found ways to still make me feel superior to my sister without saying anything outright. She would pat   me on the back and remind me that Zoey was not like me and that she was ‘just a little different’ (her kind, old woman’s way of saying socially awkward), and that she was not strong and independent. She would wring her hands, which were riddled with arthritis, shake her head and say “my, oh my, that poor little thing. She’s not healthy like you Brooke. She’s so shy and sickly.” I knew it was wrong, but I felt a slight flush of pleasure when she would say things like this, because it was affirmation of the idea that I was still the better one, still the stronger one in her eyes- that I was still special. 

The situation was similar with my aunt and father. To him I was the ‘apple of daddy’s eye,’ and my aunt spent hours upon hours with me, reading books, making me grilled cheese sandwiches at her place, with the little mini grilled cheese maker (a toaster made for sandwiches. I thought it was really cool when I was a kid and affectionately called it the ‘grilled cheese maker.’), playing with me in the swingset. When Zoey came around it was all different. The dialogue changed. People I loved no longer spent the time with me they once did. I felt like I was pushed over to the side of the curb, like an eight year old boy’s forgotten toy truck after Christmas. I was extremely saddened by what I felt was the loss of the people I loved, and while I probably understood that I hadn’t lost them completely, what was clear to me was that I was no longer as special in their eyes . . . and what had I done? Just because Zoey had been born I had to suffer? I was the one who had wanted her. A niggling resentment started to set in. It grew with each subsequently occuring event which brought these feelings to surface. 

Zoey fell off a swing and started to cry. She was two or three years old. My mom yelled out of the screened window, from the room where she was constantly trying to watch us while doing her chores, “Brooke . . . what did you do to your sister now?” It was just totally not fair. A surge of anger rushed through my nine year old self, “What are you talking about? I didn’t do anything! You’re so unfair! All you care about is her!” It was the usual inability of the other person to see what was really going on and that I had done nothing to make the kid get into whatever new mess she was in. My mother’s face, which was not much more than a silhouette encased in th eblack hair flying out from her, bobbed in and out of view. 

“You should have been watching her!” I heard her sharp tone. Anger boiled up within me, and rushed into my face in the form of a nice blossoming flush. 

“Are you serious?” I was only nine, and honestly how the heck was I supposed to know? I mean no one had prepared me for the role I was taking on as not only a sister, but caregiver and apparently chaperone to all things she might want to do or get into, or any small fancy the kid had. Really? Conversations, while they did not exactly mimic the kind of exchanges that took place between my mother and I when Zoey was little, with other family members, had similar undertones. The main one was jealousy. When my aunt or grandmother said something about Zoey being so shy, or Zoey not having the same social disposition which made her consequently boring and dull (at least in my opinion), or being of a fragile physical nature as compared with myself, inwardly I felt pleased. I never felt any pleasure at such comparisons that put me in a good light, without there being some kind of guilt attached. My interactions and memories of these events and exchanges were dappled with strings of guilt and the devil I could not help- the smug feeling of superiority. It was especially true when I spent one on one time with my aunt, my ‘Saunie,’ or my grandmother, when at least, it was still possible to do so. My time with them seemed to be growing scantily thin, since now there were two ‘number ones’ they had to try and sprinkle with equal amounts of time and attention. 

My life never was the same after Zoey was born. It’s highly likely that her birth caused some kind of narcissism to come out in me that was already primed for action; I never was taught to think that anyone but myself had the potential to be anything they wanted in life, or that anyone else was as uniquely talented as I was . . . at least, not anyone I knew. Certainly not another sibling. Why was it snatched away, just because I had dreamt my sister into existence? When I asked God for a sibling and had the forever-life-changing discussion with my parents, one fated night when I was six, playing on the floor with one of the cats as they walked out of the bedroom with a concerned look (little did I know then that my words would be weighed so carefully and with such examination)- little did I know, too, that my wish would be granted, and that I would be blessed with a little sister who did not want to play with me, nor shared any of my interests, and took my Saunie and my grandma away- I did not get what I expected. 

Don’t get me wrong. I loved her anyway. My conscience was always eating away at me for the thoughts I described above.  As a seven year old who had always been lavished with attention though, and the first grandchild whom everyone spent the most time with, it simply confused me. I did not know I would be made to be a babysitter, and that my mother had appointed me into this role for which I felt so ill�"prepared. I wanted a little playmate, not someone I had to watch over constantly because I was there. Perhaps, had Zoey had just a little bit more in common with me, even a morsel, been just a little more independent and enjoyed books or movies that I liked, or even faked it . . . part of why I didn’t really want the responsibility is that she just never grew on me. She whined constantly, never felt well enough to play or do the types of activities I enjoyed, or just didn’t like them, and did not make any attempt to grow a connection with me. I thought it was strange, and just couldn’t help but to look at her with a frown sometimes, wondering how she could ever fit into any puzzle that I made. It did not help that jealousy stuck to me like some sort of adhesive because of how I perceived people I loved best, who I was highly possessive over, change in their attitudes towards me. 

That was it. I was no longer number one. 

© 2022 Foxemerald

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I'm an only child. I can't describe In words how I felt when reading this. I remember my parents asked me, when I was younger 4 or 5 years old, whether i'd want a sibling... I always said no, why? Because I didn't want then to get all the attention... that was my 5 year old mind speaking... so I grew up, no siblings, I always viewed it as a unique thing, because similar to what you said, all of my friends had a sibling, I am pretty much the only, only child I know and I learned to keep myself company, reading, writing, drawing, jewelry making, sleeping. But I appreciate your candid reflection on how having a sister changed your life. I can't say I understand what it's like to have a younger sister because I've never had one but I can understand that pang of jealousy you got when your sister receieved all the attention. I have younger cousins... and the one born after me, 5 years later,... let's just say I was very jealous because my mom would hold her, and play with her and I'd just watch... it just made me feel bad that I was not getting the attention I had at home. She was born when I was 5. But I learned to play with her whenever I'd see her, and that's that... no more jealousy, I think it was just the child in me. I think in some deep level of ourselves, we all once craved someone who was similar to us, in hobbies, that we could connect with. I know I said I didn't want a sibling but the thought has never avoid my mind... how it would've been if I had one, what would they like etc. But I appreciate that you learned to love your sister with time.

Posted 5 Months Ago


4 Months Ago

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