What was the best day of your life? The day you got married? The day you found out you were finally pregnant? The day you got that great job or beat that health scare? Maybe like so many often say, it was the day you had your baby. Full disclosure: while I love my kids, the day I had either of them was not particularly stellar, nor is it one I’d really want to relive. For me, the day I will never forget, is the day my son met my daughter. It’s a day I’ve thought of often, especially on National Sibling Day this April.
I had my daughter on a Thursday. My son was at preschool and like every Thursday he had swim lessons that night. We knew his entire world was about to change so we had my parents take him to his swim lesson and have one final night of “normal,” where he was the center of attention. They kept him home the next day and we all prepared for him to come visit at the hospital. At just 3 years old we weren’t sure how he’d react or if he really knew what was about to happen. Would he be frightened by the hospital? Would he be upset I couldn’t pick him up right away? That the baby would cry? That our attention wasn’t on him? We played scenarios over and over trying to make sure we were on the same page.
We had been planning for this moment for so long. We put together a small “big brother” gift bag with puzzles and games, coloring books, and a new “Big Brother!” shirt and we kept telling him the hospital had the greatest cookies (they really did) to keep him excited, hopefully distracted, and most importantly positive. Nothing could have prepared us for the reality of that day. He walked in quietly, and he seemed so small. He looked up and ran over (only whispering) giving us the biggest hugs and wanting to climb in bed with me while I held the baby. He looked down at her in my arms and immediately, he fell in love.
All my concerns and worries completely faded away in that moment. He wanted to hold her, poke her nose, gently pat her head, and he kept trying to figure out how to give her a hug when he had both arms wrapped around her securely so he just kept bowing his head into her. Sure my hormones were a wreck but there would have been tears regardless. It was so pure, and so real. To know my son could love her so completely, so purely, when their only bond was us telling him she was ours. His. Part of the family.
I have replayed that day in my mind 1000 times. The first moments of my two kiddos together will forever be ingrained in my memory. In all the pictures we took that day, my son has nothing but the biggest smile on his face (until it was time for him to leave) and I am so thankful we captured those moments. My daughter is now 7 months old, and the two still have the most unbelievable bond. He is still entirely in love with her, and she is obsessed with him. While my daughter smiles a lot, she doesn’t laugh aloud at just anything – except my son. No matter what he seems to be doing, her entire face lights up, her eyes squint with joy, and her nose crinkles. She has a belly laugh like the best of them when my son is acting silly. And it goes both ways. My son loves to hug on her and hold her hand. When she first rolled over or put her pacifier back in her mouth on her own, he didn’t hesitate one second before running over, patting her head, and saying “I’m so proud of you baby!!” The other day I legitimately caught him hugging on her and saying “I love you baby. You’re my best friend.” Cue the waterworks. For real.
Now I’m not taking crazy pills you guys, or drinking the Kool-aid, or whatever your favorite analogy of delusion is. I am a realist. I am fully aware that this is not the norm and that while we have been living in this la la land of sibling love, that this will very likely change (likely SOON). I am aware. I am preparing myself. There will be a day when my daughter takes something my son wants to play with, or gets in the way, or embarrasses him in front of his friends and there will be plenty of moments where they are not ALL about each other. And that’s ok. My only goal as their mom is to continue to reinforce their bond, help them to grow and love and respect each other, and continue to support each other in all they do. So that when they need each other, they are there.
April 10th is national sibling day, and while it’s not really a “holiday” in the true sense of the word, it does give us a reminder that while we are raising our little ones to be the best little humans they can be, a sibling bond is something to value and not take for granted. Honor and respect your parents, but love and support your siblings. Lean on them, love on them, stick up for them, and while you may not always agree on everything, have each others backs. So this year, maybe think of starting a new tradition. Have your kids make crafts for each other, write a thank you to each other, say one thing they enjoy doing together, or play a game together. Do a little something to celebrate.