If you grew up in a large family like I did, you’ve probably asked yourself at least a million times what it might have been like to be an only child. It’s hard to really appreciate the value of siblings when you’re young, and especially when you have more than one. I remember lots of times when I sat down and tried to imagine what it would have been like if it was just me, alone, with my parents all to myself. I pictured all the attention I would get, and all the toys I wouldn’t have to share. But in all that time plotting ways to force Santa to take away my siblings, instead of bringing me Christmas presents, I never thought about what I might be losing. Growing up with siblings has defined me in so many ways, here are just a few:

  • Having a sibling teaches you how to share
  • Having a sibling teaches you how to appreciate time alone
  • Having a sibling is its own type of war preparation
  • Having a sibling pushes you to find your own strengths
  • Having a sibling teaches you how to love

I was two years old when my little brother Cameron was born. I don’t remember much of the time when he came home to the time he could talk, but we were partners in crime for a while as toddlers. He played with me when I wanted to play dolls, and I played with him when he wanted to play video games. Having a little brother taught me to be patient. It taught me that playing with someone else was better than playing alone nine times out of ten.

Having my brother to play with was great; I didn’t have to go to school to find my friends because I had built in friend in the room next door. But sometimes being able to leave your friends at the end of the day is a good thing. Having a sibling taught me how to appreciate those quiet moments where I could reflect. I use to have a special spot where I could go and think, someplace I never shared with my brother. As an adult, I now realize how important is to give others their own space as well.

To put it frankly having siblings prepares you to both defend your honor, and attack to protect what’s yours. My older sister Myranda and I are three years apart and it was hard to get along sometimes. She would insist that things I knew to be mine were hers, and we had our fair share of fights defending the aforementioned items. One fight in particular, concerning a doll crib, can still create an argument. To keep the peace we have had to make such conversations our own private Switzerland. Having a sibling is like its own kind of warfare because it teaches you how to determine what’s worth fighting for, and what’s worth being left unsaid.

My older sister Myranda is a strong, willful, confident person; and my younger brother Cameron is a social butterfly, the most liked in a crowd, and eager to put everyone at ease. Being caught between these two personality types growing up wasn’t always easy. Sometimes to be heard I have to be louder than both of them combined, which, believe me, was easier said than done. I like to think that I get most of my strength as a person today from them. In their own way, they made me become the kind of person who will fight to be heard.

People say a child’s first love is their parents, but I don’t think that’s true. I loved my parents, but it was my siblings who taught me the value of love to begin with. Loving someone is sharing a bathroom in the morning when you’re running late for school. It's helping get rid of the evidence together in the back yard when you smash your sister's artwork. Love is when your sister fights tooth and nail to defend you when your fingers broken at camp and the adults aren’t listening to you. Love is when your brother makes you feel beautiful even on your worst day and you feel ugly. Love is sharing a bunk bed with your sister who is glad you’re on the bottom because the monsters will eat you first. Love is anger, and love is tears, and most importantly love is forgiveness.

It was my siblings who taught me how to love, who taught me how to be strong. Because at the end of the day when Santa gave me rollerblades instead of making me an only child like I asked, I was thankful. I am so glad I was never an only child, because if there wasn’t a Myranda and a Cameron, there would be no Taylor.