Thursday, February 24, 2011

7 and 4

 It's hard to believe I'm going to be the mother of a 7 year old on Monday. 

Isaac's big brother, Ethan, will be officially 3 years older than him.  Believe it or not, we did plan for our children to be about 3 years apart.  I really felt like I invested time and cherished memories at home with Ethan and myself.  I felt ready to love even more...and felt confident Ethan could do the same.  And he has.

Being a big brother isn't easy all the time.  Isaac makes it difficult sometimes.  When we learned of Isaac's delays, I worried about their communication levels--Ethan, speaking in full sentences clearly at 18 months, and his brother, nowhere near that milestone.  I worried about their ability to play together...maybe having children 3 years apart wasn't as smart as I originally planned.  Different toys, different styles of play.  As time went on, I did more worrying.  

But I watched as my sons developed.  They are boys in every sense of the word, but oh, so different.  Ethan is the the party animal, and social butterfly--"Cruise Ship Director" if you will.  He's quick to organize a group and create some fun, new game with impossible rules.  Yet, everyone wants to join in.  (His latest one was coming up with a contest among his friends at school to see who could create the most awesome Lego monster.  The winner?  Would be judged by Ethan, and Ethan alone, and that boy would be rewarded with what else?  A sleepover at Ethan's house.  IS there a better prize?)

Isaac loves this sense of adventure!  He thrives on watching his brother get excited, and has gleaned bits and pieces from watching the ways Ethan responds with emotion.  Isaac will often repeat phrases with Ethan's inflection--getting pleasure out of feeling what his brother feels.  Who cares if they couldn't share toys.  They are sharing life. 

On top of this, Ethan is my "emotional" one.  He is tenderhearted with a tough exterior.  It has been hard to explain to Ethan why Isaac can't handle certain emotions; why Isaac can't process certain things the way he can."Mom..." Ethan whispered to me while tucking him in for bed one night, "I wish Isaac and me were twins."  I thought for a second.  "You're right, Ethan.  It WOULD be easy to have a brother who was the same age as you, who looked just like you, who shared mommy's belly with you...but even then, you could still be TOTALLY different.  And I'd still love you both the same."  

I'm proud of both my boys.  Watching their relationship change and grow is a tangible, daily experience.  I watch them share moments...and then I have to separate them...then watch as they go back to playing as if no one was ever harmed.  Brotherly love isn't without it's bumps and bruises, but it's characteristically marked with persevering tenderness and strength. 


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