Being raised as an only child for my first 12 years always had me longing for a big family. Now that I have four kids of my own, I do often question am I spending enough time with each of them? I didn’t grow up with siblings like this. My brother was born when I was 12 and I was already engulfed in being a tween to really have that young sibling bond. I now get to see the world from the sibling perspective and relish in their happiness as the perfect little gang. But not everyday is it the perfect setting.
Now that I have been braving the parent thing for the past ten years, I have learned a lot about the dynamic of siblings. Jackson, my first born has always been the leader. At nine years old, he is so sensitive, yet displays such an unbridled passion. He takes his role as oldest brother quite serious and often tries to be the peacemaker. Dylan, my daughter, who is only 16 months younger than Jackson is more of a free spirit, and quite the social butterfly (when she gets to know you). It takes her a few times to warm up, but once she does you will enjoy her blossoming artistic, creative self. Its interesting watching a girl grow who has three brothers. Tutus and footballs would describer her best.
Roman, our sweet number three is the one who has us always on our toes. He has been outspoken since he could say his first words, "Mama." His tone has always been an authoritative one. He doesn't speak as much as he commands and demands. Having two older siblings leads him into this role where he wants to be heard and instead of everything being harmonious, its more of a competition. He is vastly more comfortable in his role as older brother to Brody. than younger brother to anyone. He tries to find his way with the older two, but has this stuck in the middle disposition that I am always playing referee too. He just wants to be part of the gang and tries to keep up with my nine and eight year old, but his sweet little brain is only four.
My darling daughter Dylan is struggling with 3rd grade Math and this new concept of breaking down numbers. I leave this struggle for my husband as he is great with numbers. If you don't have a Math genius around the house, I suggest you check out this NY Times article covering 5 ways to help your kid not stink at Math.
I cant help but wonder as a mom, am I spending enough time with each of them? I do think that most mom’s with more than one goes through these feelings of guilt. I remember when I left for the hospital to have my second baby and I grieved saying goodbye to Jackson. It would no longer be just him and I … He would no longer be my only child. However, I learned your heart does grow larger, larger than I ever imagined.
My first born Jackson is quite the leader of the gang. I sometimes wonder is he a born leader or is it because he's the oldest and he takes the job so seriously. He, however, sets the bar high for the others. He is truly an exceptional, shall I say, sweetheart. There is never any back talk and his manners are plentiful. If I say, "Jackson, please go upstairs and get mama diapers," he says, "yes ma’am," after all... my littles were all born in the South.
Reading is something we do every night. I loved a bedtime story as a kid, so I make sure I read special stories at night to each of them. Jackson is loving chapter books and Dylan still wants me to sing her baby book, “hush little baby.” Roman right now is in Italian school so we reinforce Italian before bed.
I wonder at times if I will ever have the time for me to read. For now, with all these little beings I think reading for pleasure is a thing of the past and I am ok with it, as my job is much greater, being Mom.
Despite the little things I try to do with each of them I realized something different that an only child like myself didn't have. They have each other. They are the perfect little tribe. My sweet oldest boy leading the group, my only girl who loves to rally them up, Roman who tries to have his voice heard, and baby Brody who gives us all the sense of calm we all need. They love each other so much and it's quite amazing to watch how they all interact.
As a kid, I was always fascinated with families that had siblings and so much chaos going on. I knew at their very "young age" that I too longed for that same chaos. I yearned for siblings like my cousins had upstairs or my sweet childhood friends on Bleeker Stree. I knew that when it was time to have children I would have a big family. I wanted the sibling memories I saw my friends and cousins experience.
Instead of me worrying about spending one on one time, I need to dive into this Schaffer party of six and embrace the love and excitement that a big group brings.
You see, this is so foreign for me. However, in a strange way I feel like I get to experience siblings, not as one, but as their mom. It is truly the best thing I have ever seen or embraced as a parent. The way they play with each other, argue it out, pick each other up and conquer the world is totally inspiring for an "only child" parent.
I want my kids to celebrate being siblings; to be close in mindset, but always respect each others differences. As they navigate through life, I want them to know their relationship is worth celebrating. They should always know they have each other, whether for counseling, guidance, cheering or support. These kids are navigating adventures and adversities. I don't want them to be just siblings by default, I want them to share in life the wins and fails, accomplishments and setbacks. More than the sister or brother thing, I want them to fight, forgive and love through all the varied stages of sibling hood and simply... "sibling on."
I would love to hear from you. Were you a sibling? Please comment below.