My two boys are thirty-two months apart. I found out I was pregnant with #2 on my older guy’s 2nd birthday. While I had my fair share of emotional wrecks (like this letter I wrote a week before #2’s arrival), I couldn’t be happier with my boys and their growing relationship. Of course they will have good days and bad. For my oldest, having a brother has meant, above all, learning to share. So, what does it mean to be the little brother? There’s good, there’s bad, and there’s amazing. Here are a few of my favorites.
Hand-me-down everything. Clothes, toys, Halloween costumes. I even saved 30+ pacifiers (sterilized, yes) just in case. Even with totally different birthdays, we ‘made it work’ a la Tim Gunn. I took the baby to his one year old check-up (in October) wearing a Valentine’s Day shirt. The nurse merely said, “not your first?” Touché.
Different rules. When my oldest was ready for solid food, I carefully cooked a sweet potato, made sure the camera battery was charged, and put it on the calendar so my husband made sure to be there. Fast forward and baby #2’s first experience went something like: “hey, look! a perfectly ripe avocado! let’s share it!” and no documentation. Sorry, kid. We tried nuts before two, stayed out later on weeknights, traveled more, and allowed the ‘baby’ to play with toys designed for older kids. (Supervised, of course.)
Tagging along. Everywhere. Hockey practice. Birthday parties. Not many 18 month olds have been to LegoLand or get to explore the 5-12 year old section of the playground (eeeeeks!). While this means not hanging at museums designed for kids his own age, he does get to experience a lot of pretty cool stuff ahead of the game. (Added bonus: phrases like “light saber” and “anaranjado” are now commonplace in my 2 year old’s vocabulary.)
Not much alone time. This summer when my older son was in camp for a week, I got to hang out with the little one. Just him. It was awesome. It’s so easy to forget that they need individual attention too. Being a little brother also means always having someone to play with. Or annoy. That just depends on how you look at it. (Note: it’s becoming more “play with” and less “annoyance” each day…)
You are TOUGH. (See cover photo). Boys with big brothers have been tickled, chased, and pushed to the brink. You know, and understand, limits. You are still sensitive but can totally hang physically.
More relaxed parenting. This goes back to my point about different rules. The second go-’round, I knew more about nursing, how life-changing sleep training can be, and what I can (and can’t!) be flexible with. I also adopted the “if you got up there, you can get down from there” mentality (thanks, Shanae!).
One more person to love you. I was nervous about having enough room in my heart for another baby. But it is absolutely true what they say about your heart growing larger than you could have imagined. This little boy, as unlucky as he may be clad in hand-me-downs, is lucky to have a big brother who loves him. (And also likes him most of the time.)
What does being a younger sibling mean to you and your family?