siblings come first.

Friday, June 22, 2018


I remember when we only had Grey and he was a little more than a year old and it was a struggle for me to agree to the grandparents taking him to an amusement park without going myself. I recall it so vividly this internal battle that I wouldn't be there to see all the things he was going to delight over and smile about, I wouldn't be part of those memories and how painful that was as a new mom.

Eight or so years later, I've grown a little in my parenting and whether its because I've prayed and reflected so much on my own motherhood or because with four kids, you just need to lower your expectations significantly (LOL). My thoughts and heartbreak of the fear-of-not-being-there-for-every-smile (basically MomFomo) has transformed.

I have come to see the incredible learning and relationships that my kids have from spending time with other people without me. Memories and moments that they have spent on their own with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends' families has stretched and expanded their lives and personalities. Their lives and experiences are fuller, stronger, and richer because they have learned and laughed and made their own decisions without us.

I've also come to realize that it strengthens my kids to be able to know they don't have only Brandon and I in their corner in life. We would lay down our lives for them, but not every scenario requires someone ready to go to battle for your honor. Sometimes you need people that can see the whole picture, sometimes you need someone who has lived that same experience, sometimes you need someone who knows someone who knows someone. As much as Brandon and I want to be the ones who can fix everything and give advice on all things - we are so deeply invested in raising decent humans and so rooted in unconditional love that our perspective is at a hard focus on the horizon. our kids need people who can switch the lens focus or turn to a different angle sometimes.

I have written about it before, but one of my favorite sentiments on parenthood comes from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran,
"It is that our job as parents is to send our children forth like arrows into the world where we will not be permitted to follow. We are the stable bows that remain behind in the Archer's arms. Our aim is to send them swift and far"

I have always been mindful of the relationship they are building with their siblings, but recently as Grey and Gem have seemed so grown to us and having them all together for summer, it has been particularly on my mind.

Mary Louise Parker wrote to my exact heart in Dear Mr. You in the section Dear Future Man Who Loves my Daughter,
"I want them to take comfort in the fact that they share a mother that is only theirs, and a childhood as wild and special as they are. I need them to have each other. It's almost all I need." 
Many times this summer, I have found myself in the kitchen making dinner or doing dishes listening in on their conversations and little games in the living room between the four of them. Lots of giggling, so many rules to their made up games, some arguing and then figuring it out together. I have to plant my toes to the tile to keep from abandoning my chores and going in with them, asking with a wide smile, "what are you guys playing in here? Can I join?" because I know in my mother's heart that they need, they deserve, to have this to themselves.

They need these funny inside jokes and memories together that don't include their momma. They need to know that 'we are a family and we take care of each other," as the six of us - but the four of them are strong without the two of us too.

So as I watch them come to each other's defense, even when the fight is against me, I beam inside. I find myself lulled into contentment as I listen in on the snippets of laughter and hushed schemes from my lonely post at the sink. I allow a little more mess than I like when it comes to fort building, or couch 'gorilla' tackling, or forest maze cutting because they are doing it together. They are creating and weaving this beautiful, bright, intricate quilt of sibling wild childhood together in hieroglyphics that I can only appreciate but do not, cannot, should not be able to decipher.

It is heartbreaking to me every single day as a mum to know my entire job description revolves around erasing their dependency from me line by line. It began with giving them every little piece of every little thing I had. I was swallowed whole in their need for me. But each day, my purpose as their mother is to take away a nail of that scaffolding, to show them the tool they need and teach them to use it on their own.

If we do this correctly, if we slowly eliminate our job fully (as our amazing parents were able to), we are gifted with awesome adults who choose to maintain relationships with us, who return with spouses and children and their own friends that will enrich and brighten our lives. But gosh, how hard and sad it is to know that the whole of parenthood is a slow goodbye after that first incredible, miraculous, hello.

Please Lord,
let their Achilles heel be their siblings - as mine has always been.
Let them fall back on the crutch of their brothers and sisters when times get scary
and let them feel responsible to rise up to their siblings' expectations.
They will be more courageous, brave, forgiving, gracious, and silly
because that is who their brothers and sisters see them as.
Please, let them speak the secret language of glances
and make group chats together that are undecipherable to anyone else.
May they hold in their hearts forever that they are a family
and may they feel joy, pride, and gratitude in caring for one another.
Amen.

------
my babies,
We are eternally grateful to have these front row seats to your lives.
you will be forever tied together as the original cast
whispering each other your forgotten lines
rewriting the script and changing the scenery
you will bring in new characters
and have your own soliloquies
the lights will be bright and the music cheerful
and the lights will sometimes dim and the orchestra will bring us all to tears
but you'll be in it together, knowing you can count on one another
and Dad and I will be your captive audience
forever


3 comments:

  1. Oh, my!

    This is one of the most beautiful things you've written.

    "how hard and sad it is to know that the whole of parenthood is a slow goodbye after that first incredible, miraculous, hello."

    and that whole little poem at the end ... wow.

    I'm here at work sniffling and wiping away the tears. So moving.





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  2. Beautiful words. Beautifully written. Beautiful soul. Love all of this.

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  3. "It is heartbreaking to me every single day as a mum to know my entire job description revolves around erasing their dependency from me line by line. It began with giving them every little piece of every little thing I had. I was swallowed whole in their need for me. But each day, my purpose as their mother is to take away a nail of that scaffolding, to show them the tool they need and teach them to use it on their own."
    This entire paragraph is my whole experience of motherhood to the "t" and exactly why it is so very, very good and so very, very hard.
    And that last bit, about you & Brandon being the audience- and the kids bringing in different characters and whispering each other their lines? Gah! The writing! Tab! How do you do it!?!
    Thank you, again, as always, for writing out my heart!!!
    You're AMAZING!

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