Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Winding down the clock


You are so overdue for a newsletter. I have started at least 3 of them and can't get one completed. Every day brings new things out of your mouth, new words, new ideas, new tantrums, new smiles and mischievous stares.

Your favorite thing right now is ORANGE. You want to wear an orange shirt every day. You see orange in the smallest quantities; the seam of the lining of a suitcase, for example. Today, you went through the neatly arranged drawers of your unborn brother and pulled out the 3 orange items you saw in there with a definitive, "Mine." You also have learned the phase, "By Myself," enough said. "By Myself" is a "front" and it usually relates to singing a song unaccompanied or holding a fork... Lord forbid one of us leaves your side, "By Myself" falls to the curb like an empty snow-cone wrapper at the end of an Independence day parade.

Your mama and i have been talking about you more than usual lately. We love you so damn much and we begin and end every single day telling each other how cute we think you are. You are amazing and you are sweet and funny. You are soft- your skin, and the way you look around and observe the world, even the brave way you jut out a bottom lip and hold back tears (or let them fall) during time out. We're not sure how the arrival of your brother will effect you. And that is weighing on our minds. We just can't predict the things you will need from us. And if I meditated on it, I might just need to cry a good cry- a release, a watershed, a nervous tic- the expression of an overfull heart.

We have been slowly adding more detail to the story about your "Brother". We have for sometime been pointing and referring to him in Mama's belly. And in the last 2 months when we see little babies, we try to show you their mommy's bellies where they "used to be, like your brother is now." In the last 2 weeks, we have made a point to paint a picture of what the arrival of your brother might look like; the stay with your Nana, Papa, TT, and Bill... the visit at the hospital... Mama and Mommy going to the hospital to have brother and bringing him home... As we add these details, you glaze over seemingly on purpose. (You couldn't be more clear if you covered your ears and started singing, "lalalalalalalla, I can't hear you.")

You are an easy going boy, but you are not void of opinions. And frankly, you don't like change. You've been known to cry when I drop you off at day care AND then cry again when I arrive to pick you up...

You are interested in the babies at school, but this will be exceedingly different. You thoroughly enjoy the undivided attention of your parents. When one of us leaves the room, you consistently call after that parent, even if the other of us has remained by your side. I am confident that (in the long run) having a brother will be an amazing and positive experience for you and for our family. BUT I can't help looking at you these last few days and realizing that it will be somewhat heartbreaking for you; having to "share us" all of the sudden, and share our attention with someone else. I think of the story my cousin tells about his oldest daughter bursting into tears the moment she saw her parents arrive home with her new sister. When I look at you, I'm pretty sure that I know you will feel the same way. I can imagine you, putting your hand up like a crossing guard, "No, Mommy... STOP" as you have been inclined to say to us recently.

Your Mama is even more sensitive to your discomforts than I am. She hurts thinking of things that may cause you consternation or confusion, let alone grief or pain. For your whole life, everything we have done has been with your long term best interest in mind, and this "brother" thing is no different.

But so you know (cause I won't admit it later) I'm nervous. I'm worried about how this will rock your world. I'm worried on some level it may "set you back", upset your sense of safety, and make you feel rejected. It is hard to be "big picture" right now. I feel like IN THIS MOMENT there is a lot (that you don't even know you have) that you are about to lose. I can't begin to tell you what it will be like, because I have no idea, but... there are a few things that I DO know.

I know we are adding more to our lives. More confusion, chaos, texture, stimulation, challenges, and love. More of what makes us real, uniquely human, and more of what makes life worthwhile. More for us to work on, work with, lean on, teach, and learn. I believe this is what family is for, to teach us what real sharing is. Sharing your parents, little boy, is no minor thing.

We will try to teach you that a big brother is there to smooth the way and a little brother is there to help break the falls (or vice versa). If we do our job right, this is the guy that will "toughen you up", but break the arm of any dude that crosses you... Who will shout you up off your ass when you're feeling sorry for yourself, and sit quietly with you in times of heartbreak. He may be your sometimes hero/companion/friend, and your sometimes rival/tormentor/button-pusher. He will know you as perfectly as you allow him. He will know better than anyone else on the planet what it is like to come from the place you came from. He won't speak with your voice, or think your thoughts, but he may listen to them and he will certainly watch you and know you on a level that others can't.

Mama and I are excitedly awakening to the fact that this little guy is more than just an idea now. It is like right before we had you: we tried not to have any particular expectations, but we were giddy in nervousness and we were eager. This time is obviously different: With you in the picture, when brother starts the process of arrival, we can't even focus on him until you are shuttled off to safety or "operation JB stash" is initiated...

So, in your life, if or when you feel (consciously or unconsciously) like this little boy has picked your pocket and/or inserted himself where you didn't invite him, I hope you remember this tiny tidbit - Brother never got these two years of princely and singular devotion. The only unique adoration he might receive is from you, actually. So, do your best to be good to him.

Soon everything changes, little boy. But really, in terms of how we love you and what you mean to us, I promise, no matter what- nothing changes.


Anonymous said...

Your honesty is amazing. But I think Jake is ready for a brother. I picture vividly Mac's first look at Cameron - full of excitement, full of adoration, full of amazement - she tried to be a helper from the start (not every minute of course). And she has grown into a little mommy right before my eyes.

Sarah said...

this is beautiful.

AJ's mommy said...

What a beautiful well written letter! I love it. We have a 14 month old son at home and as we talk about trying for a 2nd this has been some of my fears and thoughts as well. Thanks for putting this down on paper! If you don't mind I will be following your blog now!

Leslie said...

This is absolutely beautiful. Just lovely. And the best articulation of what it feels like adding a second child to your family.