One

Only One

This may sound a little odd to some, but I’m grateful to be an only child.

I’m sure that if I’d had siblings today’s stop on my sixty days of gratitude trip would be about them instead, but — honestly — being “an only” has worked out well for me, and I’m thankful for that.

Particularly when I compare my situation to some others with siblings.

It’s not really about not resentment over having to share my parents affections with others — I’ll begrudgingly admit that I experienced that feeling even without siblings. I just had it with respect to my parents pets instead.

My gratitude stems from a lack of conflict. From what I’ve witnessed across several other families, and specifically with individuals my own age, siblings often make life difficult. These were difficulties I did not have. I was not bullied and I wasn’t constantly comparing myself to or fighting with any siblings.

I was just me.

I ended up developing a level of self-reliance and independence that I attribute, at least in part, to being an only child.

This issue came into sharp focus for me some years ago as I took responsibility for my parents in their final days.

It’s true, I had to do all the work (with the exceptional support of my wife, of course). There was no question. But then again, I didn’t have to argue with anyone about who was to do what – there was no one to question. I didn’t end up resenting anyone for what they did or did not do. Responsibilities were clear, answers were simple, even if the decisions were difficult and occasionally heartbreaking. When it was all over there was, again, no one to argue with about the estate.

I contrast that with others I observe and hear from for whom those times are rife with conflict, turmoil, and tremendous additional pain due to “family” — their siblings.

Pain I’m grateful not to have directly experienced myself.

As I said, perhaps if I’d had siblings I’d feel differently. Maybe we all would have gotten along — I’ve heard it can happen. But that’s not how my life turned out.

And, ultimately, I’m grateful for the way things unfolded.