Since the day we told my daughter that I was pregnant, I have helped her to love and accept her sibling. Not knowing if we would have a boy or a girl in the early stages of pregnancy, we would talk about how she would help me and the fun she would have if the baby was a girl and all the different things she could play if he were a boy. When we knew we were going to have a baby boy, we would ask our daughter to help us think of names for him and what she would do with her new baby brother.
Baby brother arrived and she loved him and was curious about him. She wanted to help and was thrilled that mommy could run around now because her belly wasn’t so big and uncomfortable anymore. Weeks passed and she realized that baby brother took a lot of mommy’s time away, time that used to be devoted solely for her and her whims. While she never fully resented or expressed anger toward her brother, she did toward me mainly through defiance.
Over the past couple of years, she has shown her brother lots of love but has also expressed the hurt she experiences not having my undivided attention as often anymore. And while it pains me to hear her express those feelings, I am grateful that she feels safe to do so. The gap in age between my children is 3 ½ years and the differences apparent in their personalities since birth, I believe by virtue of their sex, is astounding yet fascinating. Therefore, the type of play she is used to on her own is different with her brother so she has had to adjust to a world that used to be completely about her happiness, to sharing it with her sibling.
Every parent wants their children to love each other, not only because you want the people you love most in the world to love one another but also because some days you might go crazy if you hear them whine, scream or argue anymore, particularly on the mornings when you have barely sipped your coffee when it begins. I want my children to find respite in the other through the years when the parent/child divide is large. And later in life, I want them to have each other when they may have no one else.
The bonding process between siblings cannot be forced but must grow organically while nurtured by the parents. Teaching them to say they are sorry when one inflicts pain in some way on the other, learning to share and being patient with their differences are daily lessons not only for life with siblings but also with the world. While their age gap makes it hard to treat them exactly the same, I do always try to remain fair so that they do not resent each other over various needs or wants met for one but not the other.
Recently, I have seen my children play more together, in part because the baby is now an independent toddler. They run around, chase each other and giggle with delight and some days they quietly sit and look at books together. These days fill my heart until it could burst. Recently, they have found a new activity that seems to give them the most enjoyment, screaming in unison.
One starts screaming and the other quickly follows suit until they yell to the very highest pitches of their voice and match the other’s shriek in volume and duration. With big smiles on their face, I can see a bond developing and a shared love of driving their parents crazy. While my head feels like it might split in these moments, I daresay that I am thankful they have found something with which to connect. As the piercing hits its peak, I smile inside at the beauty of sibling love growing right before my eyes. Maybe today I will join in with them feeling inspired after reading this post by dawnyhosking…and then I will take some ibuprofen.