Last week Mandy Hill, one of the Journal's advertising sales representatives, came by the office with her newborn son, Garret. "This is it for me," Mandy told me. "I'm not having any more."
She went on to explain how wonderful the baby and motherhood is, but quickly pointed out that pregnancy itself was not going to make it onto her "Top 10 Ways to Spend 40 Weeks" list.
I nodded. It wasn't so long ago that I had been there, saying those same words, feeling those same feelings. But then, here I am again, eight and a half months pregnant - clumsy, awkward, absent-minded, huge. This child I'm carrying is probably the last one I will have, but in having it I will have kept a promise to myself: not to let my first child, Mary, be an only child.
I can't imagine growing up without a sibling, although I did wish for it many times when I was younger. I'm sure those who are only children can't imagine having to share a life with a sister or brother.
My only sibling, Donna, who now lives in Corinth, is six years older than I am and for many years, I'm ashamed to say, we did not get along. But then again, what sisters growing up together did?
I can't even count on one hand the number of times I can remember our being nice to one another. It seems we were always arguing over who got the window seat, whose turn it was to set the table/clear/do the dishes or who got the fourth Vienna Sausage when we split a can after school for a snack (for those of you who aren't familiar with this Southern delicacy, there are seven sausages in a can).
And then there was the whose-turn-is-it-to-feed-the-cat daily fight. One of my most vivid memories of childhood - Donna begrudgingly recalls it also, and with great remorse, I feel certain - stemmed from one of our "cat" fights. It seems it was time to feed Lollypop, our silver-tip Persian, and neither of us would admit it was our night. A scuffle ensued in the middle of the kitchen floor and before it was over, Donna had me pinned in the floor, shoving Kozy Kitten tuna into my mouth by the forkful. I believe I fed the cat that night.
But I was no angel myself. One day after school, Donna was reading a letter that had just arrived that afternoon from an out-of-town girlfriend. She put the half-read letter down on the coffee table in the den and went into the bathroom.
"Let me read it, let me read it, let me read it," I begged from the other side of the bathroom door.
"No," she answered, "it's private."
"If you don't let me read it, I'm gonna rip it to shreds," I threatened with the bravado only an 8-year-old can muster. And then I proceeded to pull a blank piece of paper out of my school notebook and begin tearing it into tiny pieces.
Donna shot out of the bathroom in a flash. She was livid, and in snatching the remaining "letter" from my hands, she knocked me to the floor. As luck would have it, my forehead grazed the edge of the coffee table as I went down. There wasn't much blood, but it scared her to death and I got my way for the rest of the afternoon, including the fourth Vienna Sausage.
When I was 16 or so, and Donna was in her early 20s, we became friends. I'm not even sure what triggered the change in our relationship but it has only strengthened over the years and today I'm proud to call her one of my two best friends (the other is my husband).
Donna and I share everything from gardening and cooking tips to tales of fights with boyfriends/spouses to worrisome reports from doctor visits. But most of all, we share a history. She is the only other human being who grew up with the same parents, the same set of values and the same life's experiences I did.
Come Oct. 10 or so, my Mary will have her sibling. And then her cat fights will begin.
Ginna Parsons is Daily Journal news editor.