Parenthood Transitions: Siblings

There are moments when my two kids send me into a simmer of joy. There are many other moments when I’m close to pulling my hair out as my boys push each other’s buttons and struggle to find their place and space in the same house, but this post is about a moment when the sacrifices and struggles of adding a new person to our family washed away to reveal one of those delightful moments when all is right in the world.

We spend a good deal of time swinging. It’s one of the times when Everest unwinds into a creative and calm space inside himself. When we’re at our wits’ end, we swing. When we’re overtired, we swing. When we need to get outside and breathe fresh air, we swing. When Everest and Asher are annoying the heck out of each other (and me), we swing.

This morning we went outside just to enjoy the beautiful morning. Asher was close to nap time, but we decided to push it a bit and swing. Everest pumped and I pushed Asher. Suddenly Everest said, “Mommy, put Asher’s swing closer to mine.” I did and he grabbed metal triangles that attach the swing to the chains and pumped so that the two of them were swinging in unison. “Mommy, could you please get some string from the house? I want us to swing together like this all the time.” I fetched the string and tied the two swings together, and away they went. They were both thrilled. Asher kept looking over at Everest with a huge grin on his face and Everest looked supremely pleased with his little invention.

They swung like that for at least half an hour. I sat down on one of our extremely comfortable outdoor chairs and stared up into the tree-rimmed sky. We were all three at peace and happy inside. You could almost feel our hums of joy. Everest said, “Mommy, this is how I can fill your bucket. You just sit there and look at the trees. You don’t have to do anything.” More joy.

It’s these little moments that outweigh the big, dramatic ones when Everest pushes Asher over or screams in his face for destroying his latest fort-maze. When Asher was born, I grieved daily for the loss of my exclusive relationship with Everest. I never regretted expanding our family because deep down I knew it was the right decision for everyone, but that didn’t make the grief less palpable. I grieved for the loss of ease that we had just developed with our four year old big boy. I grieved for the lack of sleep and for starting over with an infant. Just as becoming a mother for the first time is accompanied by a panoply of sacrifices, so there’s an inevitable and essential grieving process when becoming a mother of two. And Everest grieved in his way, which looked more like anger and frustration. Our family was in transition for many months and the tension in the house showed it.

There are still moments when I grieve the ease and exclusivity of one child, but they’re few and far between. For now, at least in this stage of now, the joy of watching our expanded family is what permeates our days. One of my most fervent prayers is that Everest and Asher develop a real and lasting friendship that extends beyond childhood into the rest of their lives. We spend a lot of time laying the groundwork for this friendship; when I sat there watching them swinging not only in unison but literally attached to each other, I could see them walking through life together as adults, even when they go their separate geographic ways.