Wednesday, March 21, 2012


This afternoon, I watched Jillian make friends in the sandbox with several kids.  Myles was off perfecting his fire pole sliding skills.  After a while, he came over to the huge sand area and Jillian proceeded to introduce him to the friends she had made as, “My Myles”.  I loved this.  She was proud that he was her brother and she wanted everyone to know it.
I remember last summer the kids were playing at the park in Saugatuck.  A little girl who was much older (maybe seven) was playing with Myles.  Jillian tried to join in the fun and the little girl threw woodchips at Jillian and said she was too much of a baby to play with them.  I was on edge to come to her rescue, but Myles handled it himself.  He told her that Jillian was his sister and if she wanted to play with him, she had to play with Jillian too.
Every day, I see examples of how much my kids love each other.  From Jillian hugging Myles when we drop him off at school (which isn’t too cool for his image with his heartthrob based on his occasional resistance), to saying I love you, I know they appreciate having each other.
I have had several conversations with friends nearing the end of their second pregnancy about how the new sibling(s) will impact the life of the first child.  Maybe I am a likely candidate to field this question because we were among the first to have kids with many of our friends and consequently, among the first to add another child to the family.  I have confidently said to each of them that I really feel that although the first child may have to wait for that snack that they want because they are “sttttarrrvinggg”…the benefits of the sibling relationship will outweigh the negative aspects of raising more than one child.  I truly believe this and I am confident in saying it, but it is even easier to say when the friend can barely tie her own shoes reaching over her belly.  No turning back at this point anyway!
Certainly, choosing to have a second child (or third, fourth, or tenth) is a very personal decision and the circumstances that each family comes from in this decision is very different and unique.  I have struggled with decisions about a third (read about it here).  For some families, one child is the right number and other families continue to add to the litter as often as they can.  I definitely don’t think there is a “right” number of children to have in a family.  I am certainly not making an argument to have a second child.  Frankly, it is harder to have more than one child whining, needing to go potty before we leave the house, needing their teeth brushed, multiple favorite books needing to be read before bedtime...and just needing…  Yet, I am confident in saying that when a sibling is added to the family, it is another person for the existing child to love and to have on their side, their team.  
Daily life for the older sibling is certainly changed.  At first, there is a crying baby that needs their diaper changed instead of reading a story, or some milk instead of playing outside right now.  It can be tough, but there is always a stuffed bunny or doll that needs feeding at the same time…and we can go for a walk when everybody has a full tummy.  That baby grows and soon becomes a playmate…a best friend for the older sibling.  When they live in the same house, how would they not become the best of friends (at least some / most of the time)?  The kind of friend that introduces you to other friends at the playground and hopefully someday the kind of friend that stick up for you at school. 
Myles is super excited about starting baseball again this spring.  One of his concerns as the season nears…does Jillian have a cheerleading outfit so that she can cheer for him again this year?  It becomes their reality.  There is another member in the family to love, just like they love their mom, dad, and dog.
Don’t get me wrong, my kids bicker, whine, lapse in their sharing skills, and drive each other nuts sometimes.  They are twenty-eight months apart…of course they will have their differences.  Yet, there must be a reason that the threat of separating them for a while to play alone typically works.  They ultimately love each other…a lot.  With Jillian approaching three, we certainly have not experienced all there is to experience in raising siblings.  I look forward to learning and growing with them as they go through their own journeys…side by side.

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