The Birth Of Brotherhood

5 Mar

On the evening of Christmas Eve 2005, my husband and I lay on our bed with our son George between us. Then a little more than two years old, George was doing his usual pre-bedtime rolling around with Mommy and Daddy. It had been a nightly ritual from the day he was born. He would lie quietly with us while he drank his bedtime milk, and then he would spend ten minutes climbing onto my husband and then falling off in fits of giggles. It was a time that we treasured, but on this particular evening, I was feeling undertones of melancholy. My body was telling me that my second child would be born the following day. Which meant that this ritual was about to come to an end – or at least, dramatically change. In an odd way, I had already started feeling nostalgic for George’s only-child days.

It’s not to say that I wasn’t happy about the pending arrival. I couldn’t wait for this addition to my family. I was excited about bringing home a baby brother or sister for George, even though it would be a bit of a surprise for him to suddenly have an entire other human being in the house. Throughout my pregnancy, he hadn’t shown any signs of understanding what was going on, other than that he wasn’t allowed to jump on Mommy’s very large belly.

The baby did indeed arrive the following day, Christmas Day 2005. Having languished in his floaty home for a week past his due date, he was now very eager to get out and start living. I spent James’ first two days of life in a haze of exhaustion. When I had time to think, it was to wonder how George’s introduction to his new sibling would go.

As it happened, James started crying while we were driving him home for the first time. He wanted to be nursed, yet again. All about the boob, that one was. When we got him home, I settled down on the couch with him to nurse while my husband retrieved George from my mother-in-law. When George came bounding into the room to jump on the couch, I told my husband not to stop him. George stopped short at the sight of this tiny being attached to me, but although he was clearly surprised, he did not seem to mind the being’s presence. He didn’t say anything about it, but George was saying next to nothing at that time anyway.

For the first few weeks, George seemed a little bemused by James. I had the impression that he did not really see James as a person, but as an extra thing lying around the house. This was illustrated to me perfectly one day when James was lying on his back on the floor. We had one of those big foam alphabetic floor puzzles, and James was lying on that – in the exact spot where George wanted to play. George very matter-of-factly went up to James and took one tiny ankle in each hand. He then proceeded to drag James off the floor puzzle and onto the carpet. He was not rough or aggressive about it. He was merely moving something from Point A to Point B while I cracked up laughing. James didn’t seem to mind being displaced in this way. He just kind of looked at George with an air of resignation.

I will never forget the day I saw a shift happen in George – a shift from indifference to genuine brotherly affection. I had just changed James’ diaper and he was lying in the middle of my bed. George came in from wherever he had been and grabbed James’ leg as he was climbing onto the bed. James gurgled and waved an arm in response to being touched, and George stopped and stared at him, as if realizing for the first time that there was a person in there. His facial expression changed from one of curiosity to one of absolute tenderness. He reached forward, and with both arms, he reached out, lifted the baby and drew him close in a protective embrace.

It was the first time George spontaneously hugged James.

In that moment, I felt that my two sons truly became brothers.

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2 Responses to “The Birth Of Brotherhood”

  1. Karyn @ kloppenmum March 5, 2012 at 6:36 PM #

    Lovely, lovely post. Thanks for sharing this story. 🙂

  2. Love Many Trust Few March 5, 2012 at 7:04 PM #

    That’s a beautiful story about your boys. I’ve been writing and reading a lot about brothers lately and it seems like I’m not the only one!

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