Ongoing Stories of My Soul

Look over my shoulder as I ponder life.

National Siblings Day: Or How We Survived the Other Kids Our Parents Dumped On Us

Today is National Siblings Day. Who knew? Not I. But since it is on the internet, I know that it must be so. So….let’s go there. Do you have siblings? Have you survived that phenomenon known as being a sister or a brother or having such? Are you a parent and do you wonder if your offspring will ever speak a civil word to one another, quit fighting over everything from who sits where in the car–to whose piece of lint fell on their side of the bedroom? Yeah…sibling-hood is part family network, part gang warfare, and a whole lot of Survivor.

But if you are raising kids, I will insert one more possibility of sibling-hood: intense friendship.

I raised four kids. They are gone from the nest and have their own lives. I am still dancing in the nest ever-joyful that they are gone. On a quiet afternoon, you may hear me announce to no one: “I am taking a nap because I can.” Or, as I eat a bowl of cereal and call it ‘supper’ I giggle because I will not spend hours shopping, cooking, and cleaning up a meal that no one really appreciated. But this is about them, not me.

With two sons and two daughters, that ranged ten years apart from numero uno to caboose, we had a lot of adventures. And mishaps. And near misses. And heartbreak. And just plain fun. I will admit that being the children of a public educator puts them on a special and scary kind of playing field. I expected the truth, 100 percent effort, and two straight lines to the restrooms at the mall. Every holiday was in triplicate: home, school, church. My children got to know–at the dinner table– the names and events of every student that drove me nuts. Once on ‘Take Your Daughters to Work’ day, my two girls scouted out ‘THAT KID’ and warned him to start behavin’ as they had to deal with me and my bad mood. Maybe it was their charm or threatening stare learned from their older brother, but I must say he cleaned up his act.

I truly wondered if my children would kill one another in their sleep. Oh come on….you have had the same thoughts, too. Everything was a competition, the Olympics, a courtroom, and a theatrical production. There was the plaintiff and defense team and I just wore out that judge’s robe. Until I learned that chasing them around with the gavel and threatening a trip to Juvenile Detention Center was far more effective. How many parents out there went from, “I’m sorry your bad choices are disappointing me and you will have a time-out” to, “I know you want a gerbil for your birthday, but I’m getting you a Probation Officer instead.” Yeah, I have to admit, I went from zero to a thousand in about 30 seconds. My kids will never recite a poem at my funeral, entitled, ‘My Loving and Patient Mama’. Parenting is not for the weak. My other favorite mental note as I dealt with my children was: “So this is why mothers in the wild eat their babies.”

My children really did love one another and I made sure of that by making a lot of mistakes which, inadvertently banded them together. And lovingly, I was invited to be part of the group. Even now, I crave time for just the five of us to spend a meal or event together. My daughter-in-law and sons-in law graciously comply. We are the ‘table of five’ who carried such memories and connectedness that truly forged immeasurable bonds between those four kids.

It amazes me today that the kid they tricked into believing was adopted has been so forgiving. The sisters are like two bodies with one soul. My oldest son showed off his baby brother’s hospital picture when he was collecting for his paper route; miles may separate them but still there are no spaces between the two. The four gathered in their grandma’s hospital room to bid her good-bye and the room became replete with stories, laughter, laced with tears and hugs. When the youngest spent untold days in the hospital, the other three maintained a routine and a vigil on when he would be released. Whether it was Christmas or birthdays, special events were marked by the giving of unselfish gifts bought with pocket change or meager paychecks. Whatever obstacles marked their journeys these four overcame them together. Their riotous laughter over music, dance moves, lines from the Cinema, or tricks they played on one another are pure joy for this mother. Even now, as they tell me things I could have gone to my grave not knowing, I shake my head and wonder why I have been so blessed with these guys.

National Sibling Day. I truly think it is a valid observance. Oh, and you know why else I think that? Because my siblings–two older sisters– are pretty incredible. I would like to think that my own offspring learned about relationships by watching us. Unconditional love, authentic relationships, laced with open communication and many giggles.

So today…love that brother and sister. And for goodness sakes….let them sit in the front.