Hey Kid! You're Gonna Be a Brother! (Isn't that Exciting?)
I'm getting to that age where most of my friends have kids that are school-aged and beyond. Some have one, some have many, and I have two. For the first 5 years of my older son's life, he was an only child. We treated him like an only child. We moved around the country and he came along, experiencing new places and things, and lived the blissful life of being the only apple of our eyes. And then. Boom! Guess what, kid? You're going to be a big brother.
I don't know. I guess we always knew we'd have more than one and then with time, it just didn’t come. And that was okay. Our son never asked if he could have a sibling. He had plenty of neighborhood friends and cousins with brothers and sisters and still, he never asked if that was on our agenda. I guess he liked the life he had and really didn't want to be bothered with having to split attention.
In the late summer of his 4th year, I discovered that we were going to add to the family. Yeah, my husband and I were very excited. We wanted our son to have somebody that he could lean on later on in our lives when we weren't around anymore. We envisioned the kids growing up together, family vacations, having someone to play or hang out with when no one else was available. I had that with two older sisters. And though my husband was significantly younger than his siblings, he was receiving the benefits of having a brother and sister as his parents aged and tough decisions needed to be made. This was going to be great.
We decided not to let him in on our expanding family at first. Frankly, I didn't think I could handle nine months of hearing every other day, "Where's that baby? When's he getting here?" In the eyes of a four-year-old, if we said we were getting something (puppy, new game, car, clothes, whatever) that meant it was happening within the week. So nine months could be a very long time.
I asked some of my friends how they told their older children about getting a new brother or sister. Some of them told their kids as soon as they knew. They’d have their kid watch their belly grow, talk about what was happening, and do little goofy things that I'm just not sentimental enough to do. Yes, it's all very charming and heart-warming, but that's not me. I'm practical to a fault and actually was a bit scared to let him in on the big secret for fear that something might not go right, and I'd have to explain something that might not be understood and painful. We'd already been through an old dog dying, having to put down a cat, and moving my husband's elderly parents into a home. Those were difficult to explain. I just didn't want to go there.
In my fourth month, I was getting big. I was getting tired. Some afternoons, I'd bring him home from preschool and as he played Rescue Heroes, I'd fall asleep on the couch. And then one day, he told my husband he thought I was sick because I was sleeping too much and I was getting fat. Well, when the kid starts to worry about mom, it's time to let that proverbial cat out of the bag. So we told him.
As was expected, he immediately thought that baby was gonna be ringing the doorbell any second. We told him that baby needed a chance to grow and be healthy in my tummy, so it was going to be awhile. He's not one to show a lot of excitement and has always been more of the artistic type, so when we asked him what he thought, he said, "That sounds nice." (Can you hear that big let-down waaa-waaa?) And then he sat down to draw a picture of what he thought his new brother would look like. That's where this picture in today's blog comes from. It still cracks me up when I look at this picture. They all look like aliens and one of them appears to be throwing up. (Good God, what was that child thinking?)
In the months that followed, he never asked much about the baby. I'd offer up to feel it kicking, and he had no interest. He helped get baby's room ready. He loved seeing the packages arrive with clothes and new baby toys. He liked talking about what we'd name him—he was super into Star Wars at the time, so when we told him we were thinking Seth, he thought we said Sith. (That clearly was not going to work.) When we decided it would be Luke, he thought that would be pretty cool. But overall, we carried on with our daily lives. I guess he wasn't into fan fair and just accepted that he was going to be a big brother.
I was never sure how I felt about the lack of excitement. Was this going to be okay for him, for the family?
Soon after Luke was born, he came to the hospital and my husband placed his little brother into his arms. He was clearly in love. He didn't want anyone else to hold that baby. If he were at the hospital, he was to hold him. Ahh, everything was going to be okay.
I still think of that perfect time almost 7 years later. It's easy to lose track of the love that happened that day especially when the boys are fighting, bickering, and making me want to escape somewhere. But I know they really do love each other, and someday, they'll need each other. That's what brothers are for.