A sibling weekend

Saturday morning. For some reason, despite 12 solid hours of sleep, these guys were wiped out. They eased into their day on the living room couch.

Finally they worked up enough energy to sit up. Whit watched Grace playing on her DSI. He was enraptured. She was sufficiently softened up by his avid worship that she even let him play a few games. Trust me, this is definitely not the norm. Methinks Whit is figuring out how to manipulate his sister just like he plays the rest of us. It’s only taken him this long with her because she’s just a little sharper than the rest of the family.

Later in the day, Grace and Whit were playing in her room and I did not know what they were doing. I heard Whit exclaim, “let’s do the shoulder opener, Grace!” and I had to see. I opened the door to see them in a partner yoga pose of surprising complexity. Scattered all over the floor was a deck of cards for kids with hand-drawn yoga poses on one side and an activity to save the earth on the other (Grace’s “big sister” gift on Whit’s birthday). I was blown away at how long they had been entertaining themselves doing this. Then Grace held up a card that showed one person in a handstand, leaning against the other person, standing in tadasana. “Let’s do this one, Whitty! You do the handstand,” she suggested, surprising me not at all with her selection of who would play which part in the pose. I decided this was a good point to stop and pointed out that hand stands were best attempted with parental supervision.

On Sunday morning, Grace and Whit accompanied me to church (after we took Matt to the airport). What’s more holy than taking pictures with my iPhone before the service starts? They colored and ate their booty (pirate for him, veggie for her) and then they actually sat and listened for a bit. Whit looked carefully through the hymnal and the book of common prayer and was disappointed by the lack of illustrations. They enthusiastically participated in the peace, shaking hands and repeating loudly, “Peace be with you!” to our neighbors. Later on as the rector said the prayers over the bread and the wine, Grace, who was reading the BCP with me, said “The Lord be with you,” in unison with the rest of the congregation. Whit said (not in a whisper), “No, Grace, peace be with you.” This child, hilarious as he is, is becoming a liability in my short-lived church career.

They both joined me for communion, and Grace for some reason reversed her firm stance on No (red) Wine to take a sip from the chalice. She spluttered dramatically as we walked back to our pew, eliciting several giggles from other people in the church.

Grace went to a birthday party in the afternoon and Whit curled up with Star Wars and I curled up with bills to pay and thank you notes to write. Relaxation and fun all around! The party Grace went to was hip-hop themed, so she came home with this hat and a bunch of new moves which she promptly taught Whit.

They even went to sleep in good moods with each other. This has to be a record, and just as I think “my baby slept through the night!” is just asking for five nights of screaming child, I am likely jinxing it now. But it was lovely.

Watching Grace and Whit in a patch of sunshine, behaving benevolently towards each other made me think about my decision to have a second child. It’s no secret that my introduction to motherhood was difficult. The honest truth is I felt no impulse whatsoever to have another baby. Zero. In fact, truthfully, I felt dread and fear. But I also knew, intensely, that I wanted Grace to have a sibling. I feel guilty about this memory, because I worry it might make Whit doubt how fervently he is loved. Despite all of my anxiety, from the moment he arrived he brought laughter and joy in his wake, and he gave me the blissful newborn experience I so desperately wanted to have. And I haven’t for a single moment, ever, wished he was not here. I really do believe that a sibling is a gift. I have one, my older-and-wiser younger sister, and I can’t imagine my life – or myself! – without her. Seeing Grace and Whit this weekend made me think of the interwoven lifetimes that lie ahead for each them, the particular terroir they are growing in, and the tremendously good friend I hope they will always be to each other.

And I tried to pause over the weekend, to watch them, thinking: we won’t come back here.

13 thoughts on “A sibling weekend”

  1. As much as you worried about having a second child, I SO desperately begged God for one, thinking it was impossible. And when my miracle arrived and then I couldn’t find my happiness, I wondered what I had done. Now, when I look at my two little siblings on the days they truly appear to love each other, there is nothing more beautiful. They will forever have and need each other. And your pictures capture both perfectly!

  2. This warms my heart, knowing that two siblings can get along like that, even if only for a day at a time 😉 I see glimpses now and then, but for the most part Fynn & Paige just aren’t there yet. They’re very close together, 21 months, and I’ve always wondered if I’d done more harm than good having them so close. But it will come.
    This was so good to read Lindsey, thank you.

  3. I love this post! I especially love that first picture of them, sprawled out like puppies.

    A day where they appreciate each other is rare, indeed.

    It also made me feel a pang of sadness, as my sister is lost to me. I hope Grace and Whit keep those sibling bonds strong and close.

  4. Excellent story! Love the pics too!

    My younger two are the same. One minute, best buds curled up together (this past weekend, they drug out the air mattresses and made a huge mess “camping out” – oh well, they were getting along!) The next minute, they’re fighting!

    It was a big surprise to me to find out I was pregnant with Lucas – Rebecca was only 5 months old! (They are 13 months apart!) I was not ready for a third – no money, struggles with the hubby, major unhappiness that i was feeling about being a stay at home mom, exhaustion, etc.

    But as you say, I have NEVER wished that he wasn’t born – he is so special and so sweet and a huge comfort to me. And to see the two of them together and know how much they need each other is incredible.

    My oldest didn’t get to have that (there’s 9 years between him and Rebecca). He had to have an imaginary “evil-twin” as he used to say!

    Thanks Lindsey for reminding me to appreciate that sibling love. I’m going to call my 2 sisters and 1 brother this week!

  5. My two are still quite small, but already I am so gratified by the companionship that they share. Like Whit, my baby worships his older sibling and, like Grace, my older plays the role of (usually) benevolent dictator. I already feel in my gut that their bond is meant to be – that somehow they are learning about who they are because of the presence of the other. Thank you for this glance ahead at all of the ways that that sibling bond grows and expands with time.

  6. This is funny, and poignant, and so true to life. These are the moments, as parents, that we cling to. My boys, only 18 months apart, couldn’t be more different, and yet they seem to grow in respect of each other. I’m glad they have each other, and hope they always will.

    Beautiful post.

  7. I treasure these moments, as they have sometimes seemed rare (at least when the sibling rivalry and sarcastic sniping just breaks my heart, as all I’ve wanted for my boys was kindness enough to envelope both of them). On the other hand it seems that in moments like these Grace and Whit represent the way all of us might naturally be if we didn’t, for whatever wounds and reasons, grow out of it. In some way life is about getting back to child-mind even though we are no longer children. Namaste

  8. I love this post. The love, respect and joy your children feel with each other is wonderful to behold, and says a great deal about how you’ve mothered them. Kudos to you. And after keeping my own brother up half the night tonight to talk, I can attest to how vital and rewarding a close relationship with one’s siblings continues to be throughout life.

  9. I am so grateful for my second. Like you, it was the newborn experience that I always envisioned, that I missed out on with my little Emily.

    The sibling relationship is the most complex relationship a person will ever have. It is also the longest relationship. It is often full of hurt, laughter, pain, love. Siblings grow close, fall apart, and grow close again. It is beautiful.

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