Though it pains me to admit this, as an only child I have grown up to be a bit of a princess. When I was younger I had no shortage of toys and pretty clothes (some less pretty-we don’t talk about the puppy fat and lumberjack shirt phase-that never happened), and if I wanted something my parents (or, if they said no, my grandparents) would invariably give it to me. I suppose it’s fair to say that I was spoilt, but whilst being an only child does have its many benefits, I always craved a brother or sister to share it with.
This craving has, I suspect, directly influenced my choice of relationships. My best friends all have siblings and my boyfriends have all had large families. There’s nothing I love more than coming down to Devon where my boyfriend’s family lives and spending time with him, his parents and four brothers on the farm where they live. It’s about as far from my princess roots as I could get, but it gives me an enormous sense of belonging and I enjoy having surrogate brothers in my life.
That’s not to say I don’t still love the time I spend at home. Christmas always has been and always will be a favourite time of year for me as it allows me to go home, close the doors and spend some much needed time relaxing and recharging with the small family unit that comprises me, my mum and step dad (my dad being up in rural Yorkshire where he runs a self catering cottage that requires a manager to be in full time residence over the festive period should anything go wrong). Being only three of us for Christmas means no big family rows or tensions, just quality time en famille, and for that I’m truly grateful.
I feel fortunate to have struck this balance between spending time with big families and retreating to my small (but perfectly formed) one, and though sometimes I still wish I had a sibling with whom to share the familial memories and obligations, I wouldn’t change my situation for the world. Many people don’t have any family to speak of at all, so I know I am a very lucky girl.