My two oldest children are girls, 2 weeks shy of 4 years apart. They shared a room at one point several years ago, but we had to separate them because it was nonstop fighting and I couldn't handle it. This was probably when they were about 5 and 9. My oldest was often the bossy, bully-ish big sister and not very helpful. There was never a point where I could have left her in charge of her two closest siblings, even for a short period of time. My younger daughter would often try and ask for homework advice, as her sister had all the same teachers and did most of the same projects, but she usually got met with grumpiness and an unwillingness to be helpful. It used to break my heart for my younger daughter, and I spent so much time talking to my older one about how mean and hurtful she was being. Her little sister even stood up to bullies for her, taking no crap and calling them out when she would see her older sister get picked on.
But nature has a way of working things out, or time rather. The older they both got, the better the situation started to become. When we moved to the new area, but three older kids really started relying on each other more. The first summer we spent in this house they spent it together, camping out in the basement together, or exploring the neighborhood together. It was so nice to not have them always fighting! My oldest has taken them to football games and after-game hangouts at the local diner, and they often go either one-on-one or as a group to hang out around the neighborhood together. It's so awesome to see that when one of them wants company, they seek the others out and offer to go do something together. They also will often conspire together to ask for something special from us, or one convinces the other to sneak into the kitchen to whip up a batch of late-night cookies. I think sometimes they figure if they are all involved and not bugging me to do it, I won't balk at the mess (or the cookie sheets that always end up being put away dirty.)
The relationship that has really made me the happiest to watch bloom is the one between the two girls. Because my sister has always been, and will always be, my idol and the person closest to me, the only one I want to talk to when things are crappy, or when things are awesome. She is 9 years older than me, but she has absolutely always been my idol ever since I could walk. She just gets me, and accepts me for me. She is the only one who never asked or expected me to be anyone other than who I was. We live in different states now, but we talk all the time and I still miss her.
When my youngest daughter got her first period, after I comforted her, she wanted her sister. Then she was ok. This past week she had a particularly crappy week, that all came to a head Friday after school. I was given a heads up a little before school let out that it was going to be a crappy time. I knew my oldest wasn't going to be home until later that night. I almost texted her anyway telling her that her sister was going to need her, but I decided not to. After I had held and calmed and talked, shed asked if her older sister was home, and said she needed her. She asked several times that evening when she would be home. She needed her sister. And it made me aware of how much I still need mine, and I called her and immediately felt lighter.
When she wakes up with a bad dream, or there is a loud storm, she goes and climbs in bed with her sister.
Later that night she didn't want to be alone. Despite a lot of recent fighting between them, (thanks, stupid girl hormones) she sought out her brother. They watched a movie together and camped out in the basement for the night. They might be mean and yell and fight, but when the chips are down they all seem to step up.
I grew up with lots of siblings, but we were all spread out. Still, my best memories are the ones with a full house and lots of chaos. I remember being my youngest daughter's age (12) and really relying on my older siblings despite the large gap in age. I remember how close I was to my older brothers, and how I found solace in them in a way I couldn't with my parents. I knew how important those relationships were in my life; I just really didn't grasp how important they are in my children's lives until now.
It's really cool too see my Toddler boy kiss his baby brother on the head, or hand him a toy, or take his hands in his and walk with him the way he sees us do. But it is really something special to witness my older children needing and reaching out to each other, to put aside the fighting and arguing, and come together to lift each other up and comfort each other in a way that no one else can.
And I realize that THAT is where my desire for more children comes from. To do what my Dad did for me, that I never even realized until now. To build this family that will always have each other long after I'm gone. So that they always have someone who lived the same life growing up, that can relate to them like no one else. And also, so they will always have a group of people who will love them unconditionally for who they are, who can share in their trials and triumphs, and who will always have their back. Just like I know that I know that no matter the miles or the time apart, I have a group of people I can pull from. I could show up on a doorstep in the middle of the night and I would have refuge from the storm. I know it won't always be smooth sailing. But family is forever.