She Says… Brotherly Love

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As one of four kids, I know the joy of outnumbering your parents. I know the silliness that ensues when your parents leave you alone long enough to come up with a hilarious (and likely dangerous) new game. I know the late night giggles and inside jokes and choreographing dances together on the back porch.

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I know the yearning to be bigger and do the “big kid things” my older sister and brother could do before me. I know the pride of getting to do those “big kid things” before my little sister. I know the way good news grows exponentially with each sibling that I tell. I know the way each one can comfort me and support me, in their own way, when I need it the most. And I know the way that sibling relationships can blossom into real friendships in adulthood.

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So I always knew that I wanted to have more than one child.

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In fact, anyone who knows me in real life has probably heard me say that I am one of those crazy women who adores being pregnant and loves the baby stage so much that I would have a million kids. Ok, maybe not a million, but certainly a few more than we have now. (Of course there are lots of things that come into play when planning a family, so our family may very well be complete with these 2 wild and crazy, beautiful boys.)

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Watching Owen and Emmett delight in each other and grow up side by side, hand in hand, for the last 9 months, has been even more powerful than loving each of them individually. They are greater than the sum of their parts. They will have each other in a way that neither Benjamin nor I will ever be able to match.

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Emmett is still a few months from saying any intelligible words, but no words are needed for us to know how he feels about his big brother. His adoring gaze says it all. His little chuckle at everything Owen does. The way his eyes dry and his face brightens when Owen makes a silly face, no matter what caused his tears.

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The way he tolerates (and even enjoys, despite me saying, “Emmett doesn’t like that! Please stop”) Owen’s manhandling and bear hugs and not-always-so-gentle-pats on the head. The way he crawls after Owen, his little diaper butt swaying as quickly as it can, to get all up in his brother’s business. He’s the peanut gallery. The sidekick. The wrestling partner.

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Owen dotes on his little bro in a way I could not have even imagined. I knew there would be love, but I expected frustration and impatience and jealousy. I knew there would be hand-holding and head-kissing, but I expected hitting and pushing too. I knew there would be times that they would play together, but I didn’t expect Owen to ask for Emmett almost all the time. To call for him when he’s crying, because he wants to give him a hug. To proudly pull his friends over to show Emmett off, even though they’ve met him a hundred times before. To comfort Emmett so sweetly and gently when he is sad.

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It nearly bursts my heart.

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Sure, there are surreptitious elbows to move Emmett out of the way and sneaky toy grabs when he thinks I’m not looking. There are times when Owen will plop himself in my lap simply because he can tell that Emmett is headed in that direction and he wants to claim his turf. There are times when a sweet, brotherly hug stealthily turns into a body slam… and not in a good way.

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But those times are fewer and farther between than I ever thought would be the case, especially with an attention-hog like Owen. And hey, those times build character too, right? For both kids.

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There are many things that Owen got that Emmett didn’t. The classic and unavoidable lot of the second child.

But there’s one thing Owen didn’t have until Emmett came along.

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A brother.

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And I’m pretty sure that is the best gift we’ll ever give either one.

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7 responses to “She Says… Brotherly Love

  1. I feel the same of my two boys and I cannot ever imagine them not being close, but I know many siblings drift apart, disconnect, or don’t get along as adults. I’m not sure why this happens or if there is anything a mama can do to prevent it….but it is something I think about often. Any thoughts on this?

  2. I feel the same way about my kids. I was so afraid of how Ella would handle a new sibling. I fretted over her feeling left out or jealous. I feared she’d lash out at her brother or want him to go away. We’ve experienced just the opposite. Like Owen, my Ella LOVES her brother. Our biggest problem is her hugging him too tight. It’s so a joy to watch.

  3. I have 3 boys, ages 1, 3 and 5. I love how they are with each other, its great to watch. I also contemplate having more kids, but then again I don’t know if I can handle a 4th child! Going from 2 to 3 kids can be a lot. So I should probably get a dog in a few years because you don’t exactly pay to send your dog to college :)

  4. First time commenting. Just to say thank-you. I’m pregnant with number two and a bit scared about how the relationship with elder sibling will go. You’ve given me lots of hope with this post. Thank you :-)

  5. Beautifully, perfectly written, Kate. (And I love the photos, too!) I posted a few days ago about the relationship that I’m seeing bloom between Elle and Wesley, too. It’s absolutely magical and more than I ever could have hoped for – I can’t wait to watch them grow up together as siblings :)

  6. @NOLAGirlie, Whew, that’s a hard one. I’m not sure how or why that happens. It breaks my heart to think that a fight could come between these boys who will have a lifetime of memories between them. Ultimately I think the best thing I can do is teach them, through words and through actions, that family is forever (whether you like it or not!) and that forgiveness is a powerful thing (no matter which “side” you’re on).

    @Jess, It’s so precious. We still have our battles, but I am exceedingly grateful that they are not targeted at the little bro.

    @Anonymous, I hear you! We’re only at two, and we already have a dog… so… :)

    @sarahbutcher, I bet you will be blown away by the love between them. It’s not all roses and unicorns, of course, but the love between siblings is a beautiful thing.

    @Kristin, Thank you! It is such a joy to watch them grow up side by side.

  7. I am pregnant with my 2nd and am blaming this on the hormones, but I have read this post 4 times and cried each time. Thank you for helping to assuage my guilt about making my older child share the spotlight.

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