I was five and three quarters when my mom gave birth to her fourth child. I can still clearly remember listening to one side of my grandmother’s conversation with family and family friends in which she was regaling them with the tale of my mother’s labor and ultimately the joyous news of Peter Joel’s arrival.
The newest member of our family; a sweet baby boy with brown eyes. Another brother. My third.
I cried and cried and cried and then cried some more that April day in 1986. He was supposed to be a girl. He was going to be my side kick and even the score. But, well, you know what they say about those plans we make….
As life continued on as a family of six, my mother assured me that our family was complete and no amount of whining or pleading or proposing baby names (Sheila!!) would bring me another chance at of getting a sister. I laid low for a few years and eventually found an opportunity to take matters into my own hands. I tried to give my baby-baby brother away in hopes of perhaps replacing him with a mini me. I snuck out, from under the watchful eyes of some well intentioned adult (Why has this family member not come forth and identified him/herself? Mom – this is something you should investigate!!) who was charged with watching us, to take Peter for a walk. He was about six years old at the time and generally listened to his big, bossy sister. We walked together on that summer day through the four way intersection with no stop sign, past the golf course until we arrived at probably the least welcoming house on the street. At that point, I told him: “You live here now.” as if it was a matter of fact. I pivoted and left him at a stranger’s door step. Always one to abide by the rules and realizing he was surely breaking one by being outside of the confines of our yard, he followed me home. This wholesale failure and the growing comradery of my best friends led me to ultimately give up on my quest for a sister.
Fast forward twenty-ish years and surprise, surprise – – having brothers, and my brothers in particular, is actually not so bad!! We share a lot of the same interests, but are different enough from each other that we offer fresh perspectives and sound advice. I have learned many lessons from each of them – we are all creative in our own way, never sell out, and drinking mojitos on your 21st birthday is a no-good, terrible idea. I’d like to think they’ve learned a few things from me too.
My brothers married fabulous women I love and are deep within our clan’s circle of trust. How lucky am I to have these ladies by my side to delight in each other’s successes and hold each other up when the going gets tough. Best of all, I can turn to them for all the sisterly things I ever dreamed.
My hope is my daughter and her two brothers will have the same tight-knit bonds and I’m doing all that I can, but for suggesting we get matching tattoos, to hammer home the message of “Family First”. When I’m on the verge of exploding due to the fighting and bickering and wrestling I remind myself that they’re bonding. They are creating memories and stories to last a lifetime. I mean, I honestly would prefer them to build relationships in other, more peaceful and productive ways, but for now, while the physical scars are minimal and all children are accounted for, I’ll take it.