Post #10: A Letter to Big Brother Brayden

To my sweet baby Brayden,

I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve gotten bigger, slower, and a little more tired, but I doubt you realize the significance of these changes. Since I first learned that you, my little boy, would be made less little by becoming a big brother, I’ve wondered what it all would mean. For you, for me, for our family… Especially these last few weeks, I’ve found myself worrying about how you’ll feel when a new little love is brought into our family. There’s so much I want to tell you about the wonderful chaos that is waiting just around the corner, but I don’t know how. As we cuddle up with our books, collect colorful leaves on our walks, practice our hockey passes outside, I struggle to find the words. So, I guess I will just write them here. Maybe someday you’ll find them and you’ll understand. You’ll nod your head about how smart your mommy is. How she knew so well the things you’d need to know as you made your way into the Older Sibling Club…

First, you may not always like your little brother, but you will always love him. Always.  This is the reason why you might say something mean to him, it might even be true, but when someone else says the exact same thing, you might morph into a Hulk-version of yourself. Being protective is a natural instinct when it comes to your siblings. And your unconditional love for him will excuse a few minor not-so-niceties that, coming from anyone else, would be unacceptable.

Second, he will look up to you from the moment he is born. Yes, it will get annoying when he wants to follow you around and play with your toys and do whatever you do. But, you will always have a sidekick, a playmate, a friend. A cowboy to your Indian, a bad guy to your good, a forward to your defense (unless you somehow both become goalies like your Daddy and Uncle Mike.) This trade-off works in your favor, I promise. But have no doubt there will come a day where he confides in you. Not in his dad or mom, but in his brother. Be it with a personal struggle, a girl problem, or the request for you to buy him and his underage buddies some beer. When this happens, you are under no obligation to tell him what he wants to hear. Let his friends do that.  He may not like what you have to say, but he will trust that whatever you advise will be in his best interest. He will know, whether he admits it or not, that you know him better than anyone else. You will either have the answer or the tools he needs to find it within himself. Don’t take this responsibility lightly. And don’t forget that he will be there for you to do the same, minus the beer. This will be one of the greatest gifts of your brotherhood, worth more than all of the annoyances and disagreements that come with the territory.

And, finally, no matter who your little brother turns out to be, your daddy and I will always love you. And while we won’t love you more than him, we won’t love you less either. Despite what your Aun-T might tell you about her being Gramma and Grampa’s “favorite” daughter, there is no such thing as a favorite child. You’ll have to trust me on this one, because you might not fully understand it until you have a baby of your own some thirty years from now. Even though I have always felt loved immensely, I couldn’t truly fathom my parents’ love for me until you were born. The reason that there won’t be favorites is that my love for you is immeasurable. My love for your brother will also be immeasurable. And you can’t compare infinity to infinity… you just can’t.

I remember before you were born feeling overwhelmed by the reality that our lives were about to change forever.  I have the same feeling now, but I know, thanks to you, just how wonderful that change is going to be. So, my little Knight, no matter what lies ahead, have faith that your brother will be as great a gift in your life as you’ll be in his. And please don’t ever lose sight of how much I love you…

xo - Mom


Post #9: The Scot on the Cot

It’s funny how, even after nearly a decade of friendship and love including over three years of marriage, Kevin still surprises me. There's always more to learn about the oft-perceived quiet Bostonian I’ve been calling my other-half since the fall of 2004. Our new adventures in parenting have definitely given us the chance to learn more about ourselves, about each other. Things we want for our children, things we don’t. When it comes to the big important things, he is as steadfast in his beliefs. But these are the things that we agree on, like our values, morality, and what it means to be good parents... we wouldn’t be married or at least not happily so if we didn’t have these things in common. When it comes to the little things, however, that’s where we sometimes run into disagreement.

Being a really laid-back guy, Kevin usually relegates all small decisions to me. He knows full well that I might agonize over simple little choices about which he (or most normal people) wouldn’t care. Black or brown picture frame for this photo? Should the couch be on this wall or that wall? Should I buy this shirt in a color other gray, black, or brown? Needless to say, he happily takes a back seat to most interior design, organization, and shopping decisions. Which explains my amusement when he actually DOES have a strong opinion about something that I would have otherwise categorized as a simple little decision in my territory. Take v-neck tee shirts for example. I mistakenly bought him v-neck undershirts a while back. Despite the fact that any undershirt would have been a vast improvement to the holely, miss-shapen ones in his dresser and regardless of the fact that v-necks had long since become a trend in male attire, this package of v-necks needed to be returned. Non-negotiable. He would NOT wear v-neck shirts. Here’s a guy who wears most whatever I buy for him just because it means he doesn’t have to shop for himself and he hates shopping. But he wouldn’t wear a v-neck. He’s since caved, as I happen to really like them on him and I’ve casually mixed them into his wardrobe the last couple of years. He concedes when laundry gets low, but I can’t say he’s thrilled about it.

Anyway, last November I learned that there is something else that, much to my surprise, Kevin has a very strong opinion about: The Elf on the Shelf. In my excitement for our first holiday season with a baby, I was all about establishing some fun traditions. Having a cheerful elf come around to cause a little mischief and bring some fun Christmas activities from the North Pole seemed, to me, like a marvelous idea. I did not expect in the slightest that my Christmas-loving husband would disagree at all, let alone so vehemently. But, he did. “Absolutely not” were his exact words when I suggested we adopt an elf. I thought that maybe it was just the v-neck he was wearing making him grouchy, so I decided to bring it up again later. But he stood his ground. He argued that the elf was creepy and the whole concept was unnecessary while taking away the true meaning of Christmas. And that was that. Well-played Kevin. Spend 95% of the time letting me make the little decisions so that, when you DO put your foot-down on something, it really counts. Yes, Sarah, you can decorate the mantle with whatever your little heart desires, you can choose the hotel and itinerary for our vacation, you can order your own meal but eat mine when you decide it looks better, but NO, you CANNOT bring a little elf into our home every December.

Now, sometimes my darling husband gives me a hard time just for the fun of it. He really agrees with me on whatever it is I’m suggesting, but he pretends to disagree with me anyway. He thinks it’s amusing to see me plead my case on things that are probably ridiculous to him and rest of the world. I brought up the elf again recently in hopes that maybe this was one of those things. That maybe he’d forgotten his joke from the year before and he’d back my idea. But, he didn’t. Same reasoning, same “Absolutely not”. Humph… I really loved the idea of hiding the little activity-bearing elf every night for my boys to find. And maybe I loved it even more now that Kevin was so against it. Why does it work that way?

So, there I was. Defeated. I couldn’t just go get an elf because it was supposed to be something for the whole family to enjoy, Kevin included. But did that mean I had to give up entirely? Marriage is all about compromise… if I could just find a way to meet in the middle. But where was the middle of “creepy, unnecessary, takes away from the meaning of Christmas” and “adorable, fun, adds to the meaning of Christmas”.

That’s when E-bay saved the day. I’d ordered a trainset for Brayden for Christmas and so a list of other things I might like popped up at the bottom. It kind of freaks me out how the web can do that, but without this stalkerish technology I never would have found him… the little plastic Scottish man, dressed in a kilt, and donning a bagpipe.

Ta-daaaa!! What if we had a little Holiday Scotsman instead of an Elf? That addresses the creepiness factor. And what if the said Scotsman brought activities that embraced the spirit of love and holiday giving. Sometimes, crafts, yes. But also activities like “Donate a toy to a child in need” and “Give daddy a big hug”. A glorified advent calendar of sorts! I could concede on having a fun storyline behind his presence in the house like the Elf has with helping Santa to make his naughty or nice list. The Scotsman didn’t have to tie in with Santa at all as long as I could hide him somewhere fun on a nightly basis and use him as an excuse for some holiday activities. Kevin shouldn’t have reason to disagree on those terms!

A click of a button and 5 quid later, the little toy Scottish man was ordered. And, when he arrived Kevin decided he was welcome in our home for the upcoming holiday season. To all of you in my very small but lovely lifeloveandgelato community, I’m very happy to introduce little Hamish from the Kingdom of Fife.

He’s no Elf on the Shelf, but he sure is one fine Scot on the Cot. Can’t wait to see the fun and cheer he will bring to my boys and I this Christmas!