You've heard that adage right? It's what I repeated to myself over and over while we anxiously awaited Agnes's arrival. And it's what I cling to almost every second of the day now, hoping desperately that this will prove to be true. You see, things are hard in the Caskey house as of late. My full-of-life, funny, energetic, loving and sharp as a tack two and a half year old is really struggling with loving his little sister, and it is like a pain in my heart. This isn't new either. The first 6 months of her life he mostly ignored her, but once she started crawling and then walking and talking and interacting more, its been a constant struggle to keep the peace between them. It's clear to me that she loves her big brother. She does what he does, goes where he goes, laughs at his antics. But, on Tommy's end of things, he spends all day shoving, pushing, and hitting her.
I guess this post is a vent, a confession and a cry for help. Deep down I know he loves his little sister (at least I pray) but he certainly doesn't show it. I know things aren't always as they appear, especially in our social media world, but I am plagued by facebook and instragram posts from other moms showing their littles holding hands, or playing together, with captions like "they love each other so much!" or "he loves his little sister!" This is not my reality, and it makes me ache.
I know, I know, I know...he's not even three! He's still little himself, and he's still working out how he feels about the world around him. And I know, I know, I know...I don't know what the sibling relationship looks like, having no siblings myself, and everyone around me assures me that this is normal. But...this is not what I pictured. I have admitted to a few people that I am terrified of what the arrival of a new sibling will bring (this isn't a pregnancy announcement, FYI :) ) If this is how much of a struggle it is now, how will he feel if another baby comes into the picture? (Not to mention, how to handle three separate sets of sibling relationships!) Will the two of them ever be friends, the way I dream they will be? At this point, I am even looking forward to the day that they join forces against me, driving me crazy in tandem. I want to believe they are a gift to each other, and I DO believe it. But for our family at this moment, it looks much different than what I see in other families.
I'm struggling to learn that this is okay, and that in this moment in time this is what God is placing before me as a mom. Because on the surface, that phrase: "The best give you can give your child is a sibling" sounds like one thing, but in practice for our family right now, it is quite another. For us right now it means lesson after lesson after lesson in love as a choice. And I can see what a blessing this will be for them down the road. Love, as we know, is not a feeling, but a moment by moment choice in action. I wasn't expecting to be teaching these lessons to my children yet. Lessons in co-existing, when we don't feel like it. And I certainly wasn't expecting the lessons I've been learning as a mom. Lessons in appreciating the little, mundane, ordinary moments. Being content with the life I HAVE instead of the one I WANT. Knowing that God knows what we need, and will provide that, but sometimes only that, and nothing more, at least for now. Knowning that sometimes love, and friendship are hard won, and don't come easy. Knowing that comparison really is the "thief of joy" in my life.
Because, love is messy and hard. Love doesn't always come wrapped in a pretty package. Sometimes, its sweetest when it's not so freely and easily given. I see this in my son. I revel in the simple-ness of him asking me where his sister is when he wakes up in the morning. I rejoice when he sneaks a package of fruit snacks from the kitchen, and brings one for her too. My heart aches at the beauty of them just sitting next to one another.
Oh yes...I can see that God is teaching me something, even if it isn't always clear what that is.
I am equal parts apprehensive and excited to see what the future holds for their relationship, and for our family as it grows. I know that all I can do is trust God to provide what we need, even in our relationships with one another. I know I have to trust Him alone for the grace to handle it all, because I fail in big ways in my attempts to mother these two souls. I am comforted by the thought that while being a wife and mother is my path to heaven, my kids are here on this earth to teach each other how to love, as well as to teach me. I know that even now they are a gift to each other in ways that I can't, and maybe never will see.
So at the end of the day...after all the time outs and the lectures (that probably go right over his head), and the ham-handed attempts at discipline, and the embarassment I hate to admit that I feel that I don't have this under control, and the ache in my heart for my toddler to show love to his little sister...at the end of all that...
I still believe it. "The best gift you can give your child is a sibling."