I don’t really remember welcoming my Brother Tyler into the world. I was too young. When I think of us as young children flashbacks of photos I have seen over the years come to my mind. Burned images from times cherished by family long ago. As the first born, Tyler can be credited for giving me the title of “sister” that I get to carry with me through life. He was my first real friend, first best friend.
Like these photos? Bare with me. These were not ancient times, but this was long before any one of us could whip out a phone to capture a moment, upload to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, develop a hashtag #SiblingLove, email out to family and then send it to WalMart to have the image printed and mailed to your home, because this is a picture that you actually want a hard copy of too versus just a plain ole’ digital.
Sometimes you can recall a moment in your life when a lesson may have been learned. That instant when you achieved a new understanding or appreciation. With Tyler, I can’t because I was just three when he was born. But I know now that Tyler was the one who taught me to share, taught me how to play well with others, taught me that life wasn’t always about me and taught me how to love in a new way. Simple things really, but crucial achievements for a child.
When I was six, Tanner was born. He was our blue eyed, blond haired baby boy. I can distinctly remember the day Tanner entered our family. I was in Mrs. Adam’s First Grade Class. I remember being in the hallway at our Elementary School, lined up against the wall, awaiting our turn to use the restrooms. I can remember seeing my Dad walk through the main entrance of the school and kneel before me. “You have a new baby brother. Do you want to go see him?” I am so sorry still to this day, Tanner.
“Nope!” I replied. “I really want to go to art class next.” And, calmly my Dad obliged. I later learned my Mom waited in her hospital room with her newborn waiting for her happy family to arrive to meet our new baby. When my Dad returned and explained I wanted to stay at school and go to art class, she was sure he was lying and that I was waiting in the hospital hallway to run in and yell surprise! No, I remained at school. I also, remember returning to Mrs. Adam’s classroom after art and as we started our math lesson I cried in the back of the room wanting my family. Or, maybe it was just to escape math!
Tanner was always such a happy baby, and again I must apologize because once a third was added to the mix I quickly learned what the phrase “third wheel” meant. Some days it was me and other days it was Tanner. Somehow Tyler always got a team! He taught me to fight and truly pick. And, while you may think, “Hey, poor, Tanner, that is not nice!” Know that with that came the lesson in learning right from wrong, your actions have consequences and how to make amends.
In fifth grade, our family expanded yet again. What the heck where you thinking, Mom and Dad? I remember being in class and getting called to the office. My mom called the school and wanted to share with me that we were having another boy, I was having another brother… another brother! I cried, and cried and cried. It ruined the rest of my day. I sat, this time in Mrs. Smith’s class, thinking “Another boy! Really?” Oh, how I longed for a sister.
Then the thought of being the only girl grew on me and then seeing him for the first time, well, I no longer cared about what might have been but was as excited as any kid could be. Turner was born just eight days after my birthday and we celebrated with our first official family photo in the hospital. It took my parents four tries to finally accomplish this feat!
Turner added chaos to our no longer “little family.” He successfully with his small little being brought complete strangers to bewilderment and introduced us all to a new thing – the double-take look, as my parents went into public places with their little “crew” of ducklings following behind. So, many kids? How do they do it? Things got kicked up a big notch on the home front and I can thank Turner for teaching me the value of teamwork as he evened the playing field. Turner also blessed me with the eldest sibling pride and a protection instinct that one from a big family learns they possess. Maybe it was my age that allowed me to realize that while we turned to our parents for guidance, siblings also develop a bond and reliance on each other.
Then it happened… I was 15 years old. I remember this one clear as day. I stood beside my mother as she and I shared the bathroom to get ready for the day and she hit me with words, “I am pregnant.” I think my first reaction was an awkward you are kidding, please tell me you are kidding laugh. Although, what followed will forever haunt me. When she shook her head “no” and confirmed she was expecting, I cried, I screamed, I cried again. Worse than the 5th grader who just learned she was having, “another brother.” What was she thinking? Why would she mess with our already perfect “big” family? Weren’t we enough?
We did not speak for a few days, maybe weeks. Not because of her, but because of me. I held a big grudge. Then we received news that my mother’s already complicated pregnancy may become more complicated when she was sent to another hospital to run tests on the baby after some other concerning test results. I remember being sick to my stomach. Sick for my actions, words and thoughts from when she first told me she was expecting. I remember thinking God was punishing me and I prayed for the baby to be okay and for me to make things right.
It was the first time 3D Sonograms were being used and I traveled with my mom and got to see her… yes her! The sister I cried for some few years prior. We learned everything was going to be okay and my perspective was put into focus.
Alyvia, or Livy Lou as I like to call her changed absolutely everything about my world. She was born just a few days before my 16th birthday, so the whole experience with her was so different than my brothers. She became “my baby.” I learned how to change a diaper, rock her to sleep, give her a bath, make a bottle, all the little things that first time moms experience. She became the bookend to our family and all the worries and fears I had standing in the bathroom starring at my Mom who just announced “I am pregnant,” disappeared with Livy. Instead of “What were you thinking?” I was thanking my Mom and Dad for the gift of just one more. Livy taught me what a “sister bond” was. I had never known it before her. She taught me how to love longer and stronger and I credit her with so much of what I know now as a first time Mommy.
Today is National Sibling Day and while we celebrate our parents and thank them for their love, support and guidance throughout our lives, sometimes we forget the ones who also have contributed to the people we are today. You see, each one of my siblings taught me something along the way and they continue to teach me.
With our siblings we can have forever friends and supporters through this crazy road called life. I am so incredibly grateful for them. And, to my parents, who I have thanked so much throughout the years for various acts of kindness and lessons, I thank you for the greatest gift you gave each of us and that is each other.