My eldest, now four, spent the night an hour away at his Aunt’s place with her last night. The first sleepover they had left me weary, anxious; car keys next to the bed waiting for that “Come get me!” call that never came. It was harder on me than anyone.
That is not to say his two year old brother did not have questions. Non-verbal yet intuitive, he had fallen asleep before we dropped off his brother only to wake up in our driveway with his brother no longer in the car. Many whines and pointed fingers to his brother’s car seat trying to urgently express to me that I must have indeed, forgotten his other half somewhere.
Two years ago when I brought Bad Baby home (referred to from here on out at BB;) his brother was just under two. A very angry almost two year old was very upset I left for three days and came home with a loud loaf of bread, occupying all of my new time. And in time he learned BB was not going anywhere, and we grew into normalcy. As normal as having two babies in the house could be. I was worried about having them so close together. I was worried about jealousy and them both not understanding the sharing of my time. I was worried love was not measured in a knowing glance with them, but the time spent individually.
It’s been two years. BB refuses to go to bed without Rainman (my four year old) sleeping next to him. They were in their own rooms and it became such a guess in the middle of the night as to where one of my toddlers were that I finally put both beds in one room. It’s been about 8 months and they now sleep together in the same bed. I’ve tried to separate them to no avail. They are the size of 4 and 7 year olds, in a small twin bed, and they find comfort in each other enough to sleep at opposite ends of the bed, feet touching.
So when Rainman leaves, I’m not the only one who is on edge.
BB enjoys the company this morning waking up to my smiling face, and I his. He enjoys the extra effort he gets in the bath; letting him play until all the bubbles are gone. Mommy is more carefree, easy going. Cuddles on the couch to Doc McStuffins. Constant kissing and hugging all around.
But it’s not without a silent understanding that something is missing here. BB did go to the front door and try to unlock it. When I asked him where he was going he handed me his brother’s shirt and ran back to the door, whining and pointing. Almost to say “let’s go get Brother.” We’ve settled down, but it’s not without the glances to the door every time there is a noise outside. And I think it’s about more than that missing face.
It is eerily quiet. The sound of Doc and my squirming cuddly baby who can not get comfortable on the couch, the coffee maker whining in the background, the keys clacking as I type; all audible and present. But the room still feels empty. BB has caused enough trouble in one hour for the two children combined in a day; and it still is calm beyond reason. There are no puzzle pieces strewn about. There is no toilet paper coming from under the bathroom door in a trail. The couch seems longer than ever before with space.
I am trying to remind myself Rainman needs this time away from home. My BB needs some independent time with me before Baby Unnamed gets here next month. I am fighting the urge to get BB dressed immediately and put him in the car and drive the hour in the snow to get his brother. I am fighting it because I know this is bittersweet time that I should cherish. Only one kid in a household of three? A single mom with full custody of three boys and I want them HERE?!?! Am I insane?
No. The truth is this is all I know. People used to tell me how hard it was with multiple children. And in the beginning-it was rough. But it was never in my mind unfathomable. Once I held BB I never again questioned what “punishment” I was inflicting on my then almost toddler by having to share that time and love. It was a learning process but it was one I accepted with little personal conflict. And people now give me their unsolicited opinion on having the third baby where I can confidently say, “What is one more loved child?”
My children don’t know struggle in this household. They don’t know selfish. They have no concept of loneliness. They are familiar with jealousy; but only in the sense of the last gummy; the difference in TV time. They do not know boredom or resentment at their friends who always have a playmate.
They know companionship. They know friendship. They know sharing. They know love.
They know that I will never love any of them more than the other. A different but equal devotion of my time, energy, resources, and patience. They know family.
I know that they love each other more than they could love another person. And while Baby Unnamed will bring some challenges; his bond with the two older boys will not be the same-I know that my Almost Irish Twins will find comfort in each other during the upcoming time of adjustment. They will find solace in the thought of their dependent brother being there to turn to.
And I will find relief in knowing that I could not live my life any other way than having a full home with three loud, messy, screaming, LOVING boys.
So we will wait another hour or two, and we will scramble in the car to go get my independent four year old. And while they will bicker in the car over the different toys from their happy meals, I will glance in the rear view mirror with a knowing smile on my face. This is how it should be.