There was a time, a brief interlude not so long ago, when you scarcely noticed the stuff other people had that you didn’t. Your basic needs were satisfied and so were you. And then just like that…
You’re special, see? And you’re just like everybody else.
You wanted a train set because there was one at school you liked that you had to share with other kids – who were shitty at sharing. (We got you a train set.) You wanted a teddybear you saw in a catalog I left in the bathroom. Some stranger-kid in the ad made it look so fun to hug. (Your grandmother brought one for you on her last visit. It was twice the size as the one in the catalog. Plus, it was pink.) You wanted to go camping because Peppa Pig did. (We’re actively planning a camping holiday for when/if the weather breaks. And, spoiler alert: You’re getting a sleeping bag for your third birthday.)
Then – and here comes the show-stopper! – you wanted a baby brother because, legit, all your little friends were having siblings. And all you got was…disappointed.
It went something like this. Your friends’ parents had kids – kids roughly between the ages of two and four, like you – who were growing up right before their very eyes. These parents stopped spending so much money on diapers. Or they bought some shoes that were a totally different size from the pair they bought their child just yesterday when her feet were still small and she had those itty-bitty triangle-shaped toenails. Or these moms and dads got a good night’s rest. Or they looked at some baby pictures. Whatever. Then it rained. Or it snowed. Or they drank too much wine with dinner one night and nine months later…
I know all this because sometimes I miss my little baby, too. The difference is, even if it rains, or snows or I drink too much wine with dinner, it won’t matter. That baby brother is something your dad and I can’t provide – at least not without extraordinary effort.
Now, look, you know us: We’re neither lazy nor unmotivated. So, perhaps, if we’re being honest (and we’re being honest) even if siblings were simpler to come by, you’d still be an only child. Because, turns out, we embrace the fact that no amount of rain/snow/wine/sex is going to make a difference. We like our family, a family growing in its own right, as is. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
So there will be no baby brother.
But, chin up, here are some things there will be if you want them (and sometimes even when you don’t). These aren’t your consolation prizes, kid. These are your blessings.
Your teachers. One or two are going to absolutely blow your tiny mind. They’ll teach you things that you’re never going to forget as long as you live – some directly related to some lesson plan, others not. At all. (In fact, some of your “teachers” won’t be trained educators.) They’ll inspire you. They’ll mentor you. They’ll challenge you. Your favorites won’t be the ones who sling easy A’s or excuse lack of effort.
Your friends. Go ahead. Have as many as you like. You’re going to do you: smart, silly, weird, wonderful. You’re going to embrace difference, withhold judgment. For their parts, they’re going to be themselves and flipping love you – even when you drive them crazy. For yours, you’re going to forgive them when they piss you off. Together you’ll play and celebrate, struggle and mourn. If you’re in a jam (and, chances are, they’re in it with you), they’re not going to get you out of it. They’re going to help you help yourself. They’re going to encourage you to live your best and let you know it right away when you’re acting like an ass. Because obnoxious. Because your mom is going to be horrified. Because friends. The family you choose for yourself.
Your family. They’re where you came from. You’re where they’re going. They’ll share their traditions. You’ll pass them along. You’ll call them your own. When you’re together, you’ll have this special history. And you’ll have “home.” And if you catch yourself lamenting not having the opportunity to look after that little brother in your imagination, check up on a first cousin. (You know them. Three of them. All boys. Two of them older than you.) Probably/usually they’re going to be pretty grateful you have their backs, too. Except for when you’re grateful they have yours.
Us. We, your dad and I, are among your teachers/friends/family, sure. We are so proud, so grateful, to have been a part of your beginning. We promise to prepare you as best we can for your middle. (We hope we might take a step back, watch it all unfold.) And then, if we’re very, very lucky, we’ll be long gone for your end. And your “little brother?” He’ll be an afterthought. You’ll be surrounded by so many people whose lives you’ve touched along the way. And you haven’t even met them yet.