Friday, October 12, 2012

Sibling Love

I am completely in love with Jack and Grace. And it brings such joy to my heart to see them falling in love with each other. They are finally at the stage where they interact and play together. I love watching them create pretend worlds and fight over toys. Just like with any relationship their sibling love swings on a pendulum from infatuation to disgust. One minute they are snuggling on the couch and the next they are both screaming and throwing punches. Regardless Grace is eager to to be just like Jack. Jumping off the couch head first? Sure! Jack is doing it so it must be fun.

I am lucky to have a good relationship with my brother. It is one of the things I value as an adult. Interestingly, I feel absolutely no competitiveness with him. Anytime he is successful I am nothing but genuinely happy for him. I believe our relationship is solid because we were in the trenches together. We learned to work together and be a team at an early age and that has carried us into adulthood. As children in a low income family we were often left alone without a babysitter. Even at age 4 and 5 we would be left for 20 minutes late in the night between the time my dad left for his third shift job and my mom arrived home from her second shift job. I would sneak over to the window scared to death of being alone in the beaten-down trailer park. My brother would pop his head up from the twin bed we shared and tell me to close the curtain and get back in bed. We were each other's playmate and security.

I believe now is when the foundation for Jack and Grace's adult relationship is formed. It is my hope that I will not screw it up. I want Jack and Grace to be best friends. To share a love and bond that will carry them through life. And I see it as my job to encourage that relationship. I don't ever want either child to hear me say "why don't you do such-n-such like your brother/sister." I have also heard parents say that they love their children the same amount but in different ways. For me this doesn't fit either. I love them exactly the same. In that jump in front of a bullet, go to the end of the earth, give you my last bite of chocolate cake kind of love. And in truth if I raise them up and they don't end up friends, I will know it is a failure on my part.

Recently I was talking with my good friend Jen about how parents impact sibling relationships and she shared some valuable wisdom from her mother. Jen told me how anytime she has trouble with her sisters, her mother willingly listens. However, her mother refuses to say anything negative about her sisters. Her only comment being, "she is my baby too." As in, I love you and I love your sisters and I will not involve myself in gossip or negative talk about my kids. This was wonderful to hear as a mother of young children. A golden lesson about cultivating a loving relationship with and between children.

Not only is this advice applicable to my sweet babies but relates to any relationship I value. It is easy to be critical, to point out the negative in other people's character or actions. It takes discipline and maturity to keep your mouth shut. A lesson I have learned many times over the years.

I hope to apply Jen's mom's philosophy as my children grow. Not only will it strengthen their relationship with each other but they will have faith in me that I have their best interests at heart. After all if I am willing to say negative things about their sibling why would they ever trust me not to say bad things about them.

I am so excited to watch my sweet babies grow and form their relationship. To watch them discover the world together. To see how they help and hurt each other. To watch as this relationship teaches them to resolve conflict, to fight, to share and to love.


  1. Sometimes I wish we were in the same room and could chat as good old friends. I always love your perspective...and sometimes want to challenge it but feel it would seem like I am disagreeing. My mom gave me different advice and practiced a whole different parenting style...I am close with all 3 of my siblings and if it is not apparent we adored her. She used to always say...I love you all with every inch of my being, but the love I have for you is so different, because you each are so different. I want to learn to love like that...I want to learn the strengths of each of my kids as well as their weaknesses and love them in a way so intimate that I can encourage and challenge them in their strengths but also speak up in love about the things they are challenged with and by. Truth in love is not a bad thing and is often lost in a society where we all just want everyone to "FEEL" good. Now that my mom is gone...I love that each of us kids has the ability to speak up when the other is challenged by life...or a bad decision erupts. Trust me, it is not always easy to hear but LOVE is not always easy. I love it when Chris talks about my mom...he will always share he has never known a mother that was so in tune with her kids. I would share so much more if we were sitting on a couch somewhere...a piece of my real life that is playing out...
    I love reading your posts because it is so obvious your desire (as is mine) to figure this mommy thing out...I love that we all can be different with different perspectives and challenge each other to be better. Thank you for sharing your journey even though I wish we could meet at starbucks and have these discussions in person. Your babies are beautiful and you truly are an incredible mom!!!!!

  2. Sara,
    Somehow I missed this comment back in October. I love what you said! And I love to be challenged. Part of me was just trying to stick to someone who offended me by writing this post. And part of me is so grateful for my relationship with my brother. I think because we were in the trenches together at such a young age. I do agree that I love different things about my children. It becomes more apparent as their personalities develop. But I do love them both in this fierce way that is unequal to any other love I have. I do want them to grow to be able to disagree and fight and challenge each other while still being able to find their way back to the bond they are forming now.
    I can tell you adored your mom. And I can also tell that she raised you well. You are strong and speak your mind but are also kind. I love your passion. I wish we could grab a coffee and talk too. I was telling Christian recently that you guys were one of the few couple friends that we have ever found that we both enjoyed.
    Thanks for your kind words. And I love when people disagree with me. It makes me think. And I like to think.