When people find out that you’re an only child, they typically assume two things. One, that you’re spoiled. Two, that you had a sad and lonely childhood. In my personal experience, one was probably true and two was not. I was never really bothered by the fact that I was an only child. I don’t remember wishing for a sibling or wondering why it was just me. I guess I just accepted how it was.
However, I have started wishing I had a sibling over the past few years. I have found the downside of being an only child really comes to light when you get older. Though being an only child has made me overly independent and incredibly comfortable being alone, I now realize I don’t have that built-in forever friend that most other people do. This becomes especially apparent when something happens to one or both of your parents.
Sure, many people expect to take on the responsibility of caring for their parents as they age. Maybe you can pass it off on your more responsible sibling or at least take turns, split the time or the cost. And it sucks for anyone and everyone if something happens to your parents when you’re younger, no matter how many siblings you have. But in these situations with siblings, you know what you do have? Someone to help make the decisions or someone to share your questions, thoughts, worries, and wishes with. I know, I’ve heard all the stories about siblings who don’t agree or who fight over what happens, or siblings that get left with all the responsibility, I get it, it all sucks but that’s not my point.
I can’t say that a country song has ever really made me think about having siblings or not. That was until I was listening to The Highwomen’s new album and made it to track 9, “My Only Child.” Of course by chance, I heard this song for the first time on Saturday in the car with my mom. Sunday was the second anniversary of my dad’s death. Hence why I’ve been wishing for a sibling more in the last few years. My mom’s a crier, so that’s what she did. It almost got me too, but I swallowed it to be strong for her like I always have to be.
I know you wish, you had a brother who had blue eyes just like you. I know you wish, you had a sister you could tell your secrets too. Maybe we’ll miss having four sets of china on the table. But I guarantee you this, you mean more to me than branches to a maple.”
As I listened to the lyrics, penned by Natalie Hemby, Amanda Shires, and Miranda Lambert, I started to think about being an only child in a way I never have before. As the song is basically a mother’s love letter to her only child, I started to see myself through my mom’s eyes. All the memories that she clings so tightly to and the way she leans on me to get through everything life has thrown at us.
It’s funny to me how we always think about the things that we’re missing and the things that we won’t have. How we always wish it was the other way than how it is. Yet we forget about all of the things we are able to have only because of the way things are. All of the extra attention, all of the experiences, all of the times when it was just the three of us. All of the things that happened solely because I was the only one. As an only child, I have been and continue to be my mother’s first and last everything. I think this has become more apparent to her since my dad passed away and now it’s just the two of us.
“My Only Child” really has made me feel a little more compassionate toward my mom. It’s made me return to that childhood acceptance of being without siblings. It’s made me recognize how often we forget the perspectives of others, especially our parents, when we complain about the way we grew up or the way things are.
My mom isn’t one to express her feelings ever, but watching her listen to this song, I think it said everything she has ever wanted to say to me.