Brothers and Sisters


She watches him play for several minutes until she decides to make a move. Picks up a toy and grins at her brother, inviting him to play. But he's not in the mood. Not now. He's in the middle of arranging his cars in a very particular way and she is ruining it.

"You're ruining my pattern!" he yells before yanking a car out of Fable's hand, pushing her down.

She screams.

"It was an accident," he says but it's not true.

"You're the oldest. You have to set a good example. Tell her with your words that you don't like that. We don't hit or push our little sisters down."

"I don't like that Fable!" he yells, both of them crying in each of my arms.

Until Archer stops, releases the toy clenched in his hands.

"Here, Fablela," he says, sniffling and Fable smiles. "But only if you let me teach you."

So he shows her, tries to show her, how to make a pattern with the cars. But she doesn't understand his directions and he gets frustrated.

"You're not doing it right! You're doing it wrong!"

Fable studies his moves, tries with all her might to keep up with him.

And I, in turn, study her. Wonder how it feels to be a little sister. A student looking up with eager hands and question-mark eyes full of worship, wonder.

Like Archer, I was the eldest. Spent my childhood looking down at my siblings, never up. So was Hal. Three of four of us, first-born.

...

My earliest childhood memory was the night my brother, David came home from the hospital. I didn't want a baby brother. I was just fine on my own, thank you very much.

But time changed that. He became my best friend and although we scratched and punched and drop-kicked each other in the face every now and then, I was his protector. His guide. Beyond our companionship there was something visceral lurking beneath our hide and seek. I was shy and powerless in school and beyond the home but with my brother, I was the leader. I had found my follower, one who would do and speak and play as I said.

Because I'm the big sister, David. I'm the boss of you."

Being the eldest made me feel needed. A protector but also one who wielded all the power. The responsibility, too, but mainly power.

At the time, it wasn't so sinister. But in retrospect my dependence on him was far greater than his on me.

I learned to lead by his want to follow.

"Sit here, David and I will teach you about girls and music and how to dress."

Same with my younger sister.

"Sit here, Rachel and I will teach you about boys and music and pretty clothes."

Age changes things, though and eventually the boss becomes the bitch. No matter how good her intentions be or how hard she loves. Power confuses people. Confused me. And in our teens we grew apart.

... Perhaps because they had no desire to follow me anymore.

So they forged paths of their own, in directions of their own making.


***


They wait in the window, together, side by side, their noses cold from the glass and hands touching, their heads pressed together like conjoined twins. Archer speaks to her softly.

"Daddy will be home soon, Fablela," he says. "We'll wait here together and see him, okay? Okay Fablela?"

And then...

"Fablela! Look! Our daddy's here! Let me show you!"

And she follows his fingers out into the night, where the cars race down the street faster than the speed limit and she stays like that for moments, until Hal's face appears and the two of them jump up and down side by side until she collapses head first into Archer's arms and he holds her, squinting.

"I'm your big brother," he says to her.

"Right mommy? I'm the big brother and she's the little sister and she's so small and I'm humongous."

"For now."

Hal jumps out from behind a bush, and Archer cracks up. Fable, too, until their giggles combine, tie knots in the moment, his and hers.

When they laugh they sound exactly the same. So do their faces look when they smile.


***

We're in Michigan visiting my sister who is performing her senior flute recital at the University of Michigan. Its the first time we've been away together, our family of five, without kids or significant others in years. The last time was our road trip to Yellowstone when I was seventeen and my brother was fourteen and my sister was ten.

It was on that trip that we lost power in our middle-of-nowhere Motel room, and my brother hit me in the face with a pillow, tore my nose-ring out of my nose. I said a lot of horrible things that night - made him feel bad for an accident. Because I was angry and in pain and wanted him to feel bad. I didn't let him come with us to the hospital and for the rest of the trip, refused to speak to him.

I still have the scar. And every once in a while my brother brings it up, which makes me think he still has his, even though we laugh about it now.

That summer would be the last time I was ever the tallest of the three. David grew almost a foot the following year.

Towering above me he was no longer my little brother. I would never look down on him again, only up.

Still, he called me for advice and I gave it to him. Made him mix tapes, bought him books I thought he should read, like.

Some of them he did. Some of them he did not.

Until he started making me mix tapes. Buying me books he thought I should read. Like.

I loved them all.

I arrive at my sister's house in Ann Arbor, the first time I've seen her living outside our childhood home. It's wallpapered with music, its floors covered in clothes. We share her bed while I'm there - also a first since we were kids on summer vacation when we trekked across the west by way of mini-van and ninety-nine-bottles of beer on the wall, ninety nine bottles of beer...

We giggle and spoon and talk about boys. She helps dress me for the cold because I have no idea how to dress for twenty degrees. And at night, my brother and I sneak away to share a cigarette in the freezing cold. Inhaling each other's secrets and news, exhaling advice and congratulations.

"Hey! Where'd you guys just go?" my parents ask, when we return the table.

"Nowhere," we say, crossing our fingers.

The next day, at Rachel's senior recital, I help her dress, do her makeup, then step off the stage. Sit down next to my brother and parents, wait.

Rachel rehearses

Until she comes out on stage, bows, begins her performance - plays songs way beyond my comprehension level, radiating confidence and talent. Genius, really. And a kind of fire that I've never recognized before. I watch her and laugh and cry and listen, learn.

"Hi, I'm Rachel's sister," I say after the recital, introducing myself to her friends, professors.

"Older or younger?" everyone asks.

"I used to be the oldest," I joke and we all three laugh, them towering above me, dwarfing me in height and intelligence.

Our laughs sound eerily similar. So do our faces look when we smile.


...

I call Hal from Ann Arbor, ask him how the kids are doing.

"Are they getting along okay?" I ask.

"Yes," he says. "They're getting along great."

I find out later that while I was on the airplane flying back to L.A, Archer accidentally pushed Fable so hard she bumped her face into the window ledge and her mouth poured blood for fifteen minutes

Archer was so upset he hid under the table and Hal didn't know what to do.

"I was so mad at him," Hal said. "Even though it wasn't exactly his fault."

He knows how it feels to be the older brother. Always getting into trouble. Everything's your fault even when it isn't. The temper and the frustration and the want for everything to be perfect. Neat little matchbox cars in a line.

I remember, too.

"But they're okay now?"

"They're great.

On the way home from the airport, Archer and Fable hold hands in the back-seat. Fable's mouth isn't bleeding anymore and Archer hums softly. He sings and she listens. He waits for her to close her eyes and then, so does he. He is her keeper, I think.

For now.

When I tell my mother, she says I was the same way with my little brother. I held his hand in the back of the car.

"You used to read Rachel stories every night before bed. Until she was old enough to read them herself."

I remember that. But I also remember the unpleasant things I did. The horrible things I said. The meanness. The manipulating and bullying and bossing.

I wish I could take back all the times I pushed them down. Tried to keep them there so I could tell them what to do, how to behave, who to be.

They can read their own stories, now. Dress in their own clothes. Grow up without my guidance.

Now they lend me books. Dress me in their clothes. Teach me about music. Show me the way.

It took parenting siblings for me to finally understand my place and purpose as the eldest, my responsibility, not unlike a parent, to let my siblings grow up, step off the pedestal so that they can take my place.



For now, it is Archer who gets to be his sister's keeper. Her motivator and teacher, greatest influence, guide.




Someday she will grow up and return the favor.



And it will blow his mind.


GGC

92 comments:

Loukia | 12:09 PM

Your posts almost always make me cry, you know...

I love watching the interactions between my two little boys. I love seeing my youngest son trying to do everything his older brother is doing. I love hearing my oldest son try to teach his brother things. I love seeing them together.

I don't like when they fight or both want to play with the same toy at the same time, or when my oldest son pushes his little brother, because it makes my baby cry, and it makes my oldest son upset, too. I hate trying to break up fights! It's so tough, sometimes, but seeing them together, happy - that is something else. Warms my heart... I hope to God they'll be best friends forever...

robyn | 12:17 PM

I'm the oldest of six. And I was one bossy big sister. Several years ago, I sent one of my brothers an email apologizing for how mean I was when we were kids. Things are different now. These days my brothers are more apt to tease *me*.

Bea | 12:17 PM

Although I'm older, I stopped being the bigger (read: taller) sister when I was 15 and he was 14. Now, at 36 and 35, I'm always looking up to him and not just because he is 6ft 2inches, and I am a measly 5ft 8inches.

Amie | 12:21 PM

Rebecca, you are raising such beautiful children. The only thing I regret about having a daughter first is that she won't have an older brother. I still feel lucky I have an older brother. Fable is lucky too.

Ailen | 12:24 PM

This was so touching. My little brother's birthday is tomorrow, he'll be 22. He's already starting to lose his hair, and has been taller than me for a long time. I have learned more him than from anyone else in my life.

BookishPenguin | 12:35 PM

As always, beautifully and brilliantly said. My husband and I are both oldest children and I'm now expecting our first child, a boy, who will (hopefully) one day be a big brother. I hadn't thought about how that 2nd child will be the only not-oldest in the family. It's an interesting dynamic to ponder.

My "little" brother is almost 28 and he unfailingly recommends fantastic music and articles for me to read on a regular basis. Somehow, when I wasn't looking, he figured me out completely.

Abbykins | 12:36 PM

Damn you woman and your making my cry all the time! I swear - I should just be allowed to read your posts when I am at home and NOT at work!

Beautifully written... I am also the oldest, and although my younger brother has yet to teach me much, I know it's coming... He's on the verge of life and I can't wait to see where it takes him...

Ashley Parker, 2008 Class Reporter | 12:36 PM

Rebecca,
Girl, you write so beautifully. It's amazing. I'm an only child, and so I don't have these experiences, and have always struggled to understand what could be so great about having someone else you have to share your parent-time and life with, but you just made it crystal clear to me.

Jessica Eiden Smedley | 12:38 PM

I'm the oldest of eight and have felt like a parent for most of my life; despite not having children of my own.

This was a lovely post and made me think about my own siblings - the youngest are now 18 and will be graduating high school soon, but I still see them as these small children. Their last year of elementary school was the year I got my undergrad. Time stopped in my head and now I'm desperately making up time.

Peach | 12:43 PM

truly touching post. made me shed a tear or two over my office computer. i also have a brother and sister, but i'm the youngest. this brought out every emotion i have felt growing alongside two amazing people. i'm going to send them this link as i cant voice my feelings towards them so eloquently and beautifully.
this made my day.

Anonymous | 12:55 PM

I'm pregnant with #2 and you just reminded me of why I wanted this so badly. I can't wait to show little Gracie her new protege.

Amy | 12:59 PM

Love it. I am the youngest of our sibling duo so I feel for Fable. She will find her way to get back at him eventually though and that will only make them closer!

Corinne | 1:07 PM

This is all so familiar...
I'm so glad my kids have each other, but man do they test my patience at this point! :) I can't wait to see what kind of friends they end up being as they grow and learn to love each other so deeply.

Marie-Ève | 1:22 PM

You made me cry. Eldest of three girls.

I think now I know why I need to stop being scared shit and have another kid.

Classy Fab Sarah | 1:24 PM

I am the oldest and this definitely hit a nerve for me... my dad always tells me that my brother can't stand me because I try to parent him and won't just let him be himself.. and your post encapsulates that perfectly.

meganboley | 1:30 PM

I am trying to de-lurk as much as possible this week. This post was amazing. The video of Fable and Archer learning about the universe was the sweetest thing ever.

Shnerfle | 1:32 PM

You always make the most everyday things into poetry. I was the oldest, too, but my baby brother grew into someone I don't like, though I will always love him, for the child that he was. I watch my two boys now, the best of friends, teachers, partners in crime. I hope that they stay this way, never lose this bond, never become people they don't recognize.

Eric and Katie Colvin | 1:34 PM

Maybe it's becuase I'm pregnant with my second baby but I seriously have tears in my eyes... thinking about how my kids will act together... reading how yours do. I'm an only child and have no idea how I"m going to handle the two of them when they yell at each other or when they hurt each other or when they love each other... it'll be interesting to experience. Great post! Perfect timing, lol!

Talini | 1:36 PM

Wow... this was beautiful. It actually made me tear up.

I have an older brother for whom I have always held the greatest respect. But I also have younger siblings. So I can relate to the feelings on both ends of the spectrum!

P.S. --- Being from Michigan, I LOVE UofM!

Mommy Lisa | 1:36 PM

Wow. I love it. It is happy and sad and joyful.

My hubby and I are each first born, I have two step-kids that are 16 & 17, then there is my baby. She turns four on Saturday and I wonder...who is she going to the the big sister of???

The talk at daycare and pre-school is always the same. "She is such a mother hen, always looking after so & so." She wants to lead someone, but the only other baby that will ever come to our house is our kitten Roofis who is only 1.5.

sigh.

Glad I read this post.

Someone Being Me | 1:36 PM

I am lucky in that I was the youngest for a long time until my mom had another baby when I was 13. Then I got to be a middle. When I moved in with my Dad when I was 15 I became the oldest in the house because only my younger stepsister lived with us. But I still always consider myself a youngest child since that is how I spent the bulk of my childhood. My husband was the oldest so I think we are both in a unique position to understand our two boys. I will always see things from the perspective of the youngest and he sees from the perspective of the oldest. Hopefully our combined perspectives will help us understand the inevitable sibling conflicts that are sure to come. My mom never got it because she was an only child.

sara lou. | 2:05 PM

lovely, lovely, lovely.

seekingclarav | 2:07 PM

That was b.a.youtiful!

Michelle | 2:07 PM

You make great connections in your post. I love it! My sister and I have definitely gone through different seasons in our life. Now as adults I couldn't imgine life without her.

Shaina | 2:15 PM

i'm a little sister (22 now) with a big brother (26 on saturday), and you DID make me cry. my parents are also both oldest of three, and reading this, i now wonder, how much that is responsible for how they raised my brother and me? hmm...

i love my brother now, but can still easily remember when i used to say i hated him. it changed a little bit when i watched him at his bar mitzvah and realized i was proud of him. it took three more years before i'd hug him and tell him i missed him when he went on a trip. another year or two before i'd kiss him. now he's my best friend, the one person who can really commisserate when the parents drive me up a wall, the one who gives me life advice and a shoulder if i need it. i hope it stays that way. and I hope it stays that way with archer and fable, too.

Heather @ Sellers Gang Mama | 2:22 PM

Ok I am crying. I am the oldest and as my little sister gets older she says things and does things that are so much less like someone I need to care for and more like a friend.

My sister is 15 and I am 23, there was a time where I just treated her like a little baby and then a time where she was just some annoying kid following me around. But not anymore.

This past week when I had surgery and couldn't move off of the couch to take care of my 6 month old twins, she came and she helped. She cleaned my house while I napped, changed all the diapers that day, made every bottle, brought me which ever baby needed to be cuddled by Mommy and held the baby that needed to be rocked. I will be forever in awe of this change in things. This shift that has been slow to come and snuck up on me so quickly all at the same time.

My daughter is 30 seconds older then my son. I watch in wonder at the way they already love each other. I wonder how it will be as they grow.

Thank you for this post. It was a nice thing to think about today.

Dory | 2:31 PM

I Love this post. that's all :)

Ashley, the Accidental Olympian | 2:44 PM

This post left me with tears in my eyes as this struggle of how to be a good, loving, caring big sister to a little sister who adores me is the mess I find myself trying to make sense of right now.

As odest siblings we are born into a roll we never ask for, -and one that seems to take lifetimes to understand.

Thank you so much for this. I am forwarding this to my sister right now in the hopes she might understand what it means to carry that confusing title of 'first born'.

MB | 2:54 PM

I have a younger brother and sister. I can relate to every word of this post. It really helped me to reflect.

Also, the signer in the Phoenix video from yesterday kinda sorta resembles Archer. Funny because you've pointed out his musical inclination in the past. It's a bit like seeing into the future.

BEAT | 3:05 PM

This is my favorite post thus far from GGC. Thus far because I know more goodness is coming.

I have to say being the youngest with an older brother was a very different experience than what you described. I was always the loud, bossy, know it all sibling. Even being four years younger. My poor brother never had a chance to be the guardian and guide. But for us it worked. Always has and most likely always will.

I adore the closeness of your children. A good post. A very, very good post.
BEAT

Anonymous | 3:17 PM

Reading this, I was a storm of tears and sniffles. My "little" brother is one of my very best friends, but I still think of what I could have done, should have done as his protector when we were kids (and when he was a kid, while I was almost an adult). In the end, he's an incredible person who teaches me things all the time & I'm just happy that we're close enough for me to tell him so.
Beautifully written, Rebecca.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 3:26 PM

Thank you all.

And MB? Thomas Mars reminds me SO MUCH of Archer, yes. They have the same look. Same mouth. Same vibe.

Megan | 3:57 PM

This was a great post! Like the others, I got teary too. I am the little sister; though I'm 31 now. I have to say, I don't think my older brother (he's 5 years older) ever liked me very much. It was like I came and rained on his parade...I can probably count on one hand the times he's been sweet to me in our lives. But it's true, I always looked up to him and wanted to do the things he did. He got to do everything first and that made him supreme in coolness. I also learned a lot about what NOT to do...he was the rebel and I the "goody goody." Hey, I learned how to work the system in my favor thanks to him! :) Seeing Archer be so sweet on so many accounts warms my heart. There will be bumps in the road (or in the head), but it looks like they will have a wonderful life together.

mom2nji | 4:09 PM

Damn you know how to make a reader cry. I am the oldest. With parents who never had it together, I always felt pressure. And felt like every accident was my fault. Now we are all super close.

I watch my sons struggle with the strange dynamics we have now. My oldest is autistic and delayed quiet a bit. So it leaves my middle son to act like the oldest, but still filled with the insecurities of a middle child.

Anja | 4:10 PM

i love how archer explains fable everything about the planets! hes so enthusiastic! and i love how he takes the ball from her and throws it away :P made me laugh. love your blog! greetings from a silent reader :)

My Name Is Jonas | 4:13 PM

I have four "little brothers" who aren't so little anymore. Despite the fact that I was the only girl they still claim I was the toughest... even though they know in their hearts that in many ways I was the weakest. I cried as I read this, rubbing my 8 month pregnant belly, thinking of how my second son is about to make our first a big brother. I think often of the two of them together, and my own reign as eldest. Nothing can compare to the mutual history siblings share. Thank you so much for this reflection.

Anonymous | 4:54 PM

I needed this post after having to spend time listening to my MIL talk about how my oldest son is too rough with his little sister. And how I need to figure out a way to make them interact more positively. When I pointed out that all children fight occasionally. She pointed out that my "perfect" husband never hit his little sister, he was too busy polishing his halo (in different words of course). I come from a family of 8 and am a middle child so I know both sides of sibling interaction. But I still question myself after a week of MIL comments about my mothering skills.

Thanks for reminding me that my kids are normal!

Mae

MU | 5:31 PM

The posts about your family (not just your own but your siblings) always make me smile.

Mama Cas | 5:59 PM

Hands down, my 5 siblings are the greatest gift my parents ever gave me. And my kids each have 3 of the same gifts. I hope they treasure each other long after I'm gone.

Karen Chatters | 6:09 PM

This is beautiful. I'm the oldest, I have 2 younger brothers. There are many things I wish I could take back, horrible things I said and did. I think these are things that we learn, that make us better parents. Better people.

I love the images and description of the relationship between Archer and Fable. I desperately want something like that for my kid(s).

Danielle | 6:29 PM

Now I'm crying, having just read your post and watched the video of your ADORABLE children. What a beautiful observation. I have a two year girl and I'm 6 months pregnant with her little sister. I grew up as an only child and know nothing of what to expect between siblings. Now I'm sitting here crying imagining my daughter reading to this new baby one day. Thanks for the great post. Also, there should be warnings on here for pregnant women.

Kimberly | 6:52 PM

Thank you, so much, for this post. I am an only child blindly raising three kids, sometimes questioning my choice...but mostly hoping for a relationship like you have with your siblings.

Kimberly
http://yeptheyareallmine.blogspot.com

Shelley Greenberg | 7:27 PM

Wow, thank you for that. I just started this week as a nanny for two young children, a 4 year old girl and a 2 year old boy. I have been struggling to deal with their squabbles, specifically the way the older one gets territorial and petulant at times over "her stuff". She snatches things out of her brother's hands that he was just innocently exploring and trying to play with.

More than that, I've been dealing with my reaction to these moments. To be honest, I find myself resenting the older child and siding with the younger, more seemingly innocent one. I think because I am an only child, I have trouble relating to these situations. I can't put myself in Archer's shoes, as you are able to do and speak about so beautifully because I never was an older or younger sibling to anyone.

Posts like this help me remind myself that this is typical older child behavior. And like Archer, the older girl also displays those precious teaching moments with her brother that help ease the other times.

Anyways. Thank you for your honesty in this post.

Jenny Murphy | 7:58 PM

What a beautiful post. My younger (and only) sister died suddenly 2 days after her 20 birthday. I was 23 and had just gotten married, officially starting my ADULT life. Now that I'm 30, not a day goes by when I don't think about what our relationship would have been like as adults. We were starting to outgrown our adolescent selves--my bossy, snobby, too cool for school attitude, and her idontneedabigsistertellingmewhattodoleavemethehellalone attitude. And during that shift into adulthood, we found that we were starting to appreciate each other, enjoy each other, and admire each other for the ways in which we were similar and different. How wonderful that you are experiencing that in real time with your siblings and your kids. :)

Kristen | 8:19 PM

I just stumbled upon your blog for the first time. What a great post. It was like reading a short story, I actually got tears in my eyes!

Amber, The Unlikely Mama | 8:39 PM

I'm the oldest with just one sibling. I was the bossy one, the mean one, the leader...the bitch.
I'm not sure we were ever friends and now I know we're not.

Reading this had me in tears because I will never know what it feels like to have a sibling I can share my stories with.

I only have one child, and I want to keep it that way. Maybe it's the horrible experiences I've had with my brother that have left me jaded.

Oh how I wish I had felt the love that you have within your family.

Melissa | 8:53 PM

Rebecca, I've been reading your blog for a few months now, and I absolutely love the way you write. Your emotions just leap off the page through your words, it's amazing!
It's clear from your pictures and video that Fable and Archer absolutely adore each other. You have beautiful kids.
Thank you for yet another wonderful post!

Rachael | 9:52 PM

This is just beautiful. One of the things I look forward to most about having our second child is watching the boys together. I just can't wait.

Kendra | 10:16 PM

everytime i read your blogs....i seriously want to cry. you inspire. you are amazing. i love you!

beth | 4:59 AM

Our stories are so similar. My son is 20 months, and my daughter is 2 months. I was the oldest in my family with two sisters. Switch the names and your childhood could have been mine.
I don't always like being the oldest, but wouldn't change it. I am still the protector, will always be. It is a burden, but one I enjoy, although I sometimes feel bad for passing it onto my son.

MplsChica | 6:16 AM

These are special and timely words for me. I am the oldest and this year my two younger siblings are both getting married. Such milestones and so many opportunities to reflect on how special that sibling bond is. I feel so intensely protective of them. In some ways, the fact that they have found wonderful partners for themselves makes me feel at ease...not that I am any less protective, but that I know there are others in this world now (other than my parents, of course) who feel as protective as I do over these two amazing people.

Thank you for putting this in writing. You are an amazing talent and inspiration.

Kendra | 7:33 AM

You totally have me in tears. I'm the oldest of three, my husband is the youngest of four, and we now have three of our own. And as I watch them try to sort out their own relationships, I'm so reminded of how hard it was for us--and how things are still messy for my husband, his older sister still trying to sort out her place in the family now that they're all grown up.

It's an awesome responsibility, raising a human. It's even more daunting, raising siblings, knowing their relationships will outlast theirs with me. But when I look at my own brother and sister, I know what a gift I got in them, and what a gift I can give to my own children.

Meg | 7:42 AM

I agree with so many others, you are fantastic at making me cry. Your writing here is impeccable and if this is what you come up with after your "blogcation" than take one whenever you need it. Thank you for opening my eyes to so much, for slowing me down and encouraging me to be a bit more observant and a lot less the oldest child I still tend to be.

Anonymous | 7:58 AM

Damn you, makin me cry like that, makin me want ten more babies! Your posts are beautiful, and so is your family. Thank you for sharing your life. :)

Josey | 8:17 AM

Wow, I am seriously in tears at work right now. I am the oldest of five (four girls and a littlest brother) and this so aptly described my feelings about them all growing up and becoming so good at so many things! I always used to be the best, you know? Wow, again. Thank you for this post.

Anna | 9:45 AM

This made me cry. I am the oldest and I was always bossy. My little sister now is an MP in the Army and lives far away in Alaska. We use to fight sooooo much. I have a little brother too and he is now my 2 year olds favorite uncle.

I want more kids and am deathly afraid of how they will get along. Thank you for your stories and inspiration.

Breezy | 9:49 AM

Thanks so much for this. I can't relate at all and that's why I needed to read this post. I'm an only child and always wanted brothers and sisters. I have no idea what that relationship is like and desperately want my son to have siblings (he's just turned 1 so I'm giving myself a little more time before starting on another one). I cried and cried at how touching "Fabela" and Archer interacted in the video. And, as always, your writing makes me swoon. I asked for your book for Christmas and unfortunately did not get it...BUT never fear because I will make sure I get it! I just love how your brain works and how your thoughts look on paper!

Cave Momma | 10:30 AM

I'm crying, thanks. I was an only child so I never got this, never understood this. Watching my daughter (2 years old) and my son (1 year old) interact with each other is magical. I don't witness nearly the same interaction as you witness with Archer and Fable due to a lack of age difference but it is still so amazing and it makes me sometimes wish I had not been an only child.

Mama Bird | 10:35 AM

what a great post. makes me think of my brother and I. We're only 4 years different in age, he's 30 and I'm 25 but we always have so much fun together. He was my keeper too. I remember him telling me to change my skirt because it was too short!

What a great post.
Your siblings seem awesome!

Amber Gregory | 12:10 PM

This made me cry. I am an only child. My husband is also an only child. We know nothing other than this existence, and though of course we wouldn't change it because it has made us who we are...sometimes it can be very isolating.

Mo | 12:32 PM

*picks up the phone to call my sister*

Anonymous | 1:16 PM

Your brother tore your nose ring out of your nose?
That is like, so, you know, irritating.
Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!
And ha.

Sarah | 1:28 PM

*applause*

the way you describe what it's like to be the oldest, when all of the siblings are all grown up...it's making me a little teary because it's exactly how I feel. (I'm the oldest of 4, but don't have kids of my own.)

...I love your perspective. Thanks for writing and sharing!

daniloth | 1:46 PM

Sniff. I've been trying to explain to my partner why I want another baby (our daughter is 18 m. old). He's an only child, and I haven't been able to make him understand why I think siblings are so important. I'm going to make him read this post. Because really, I couldn't have said it any better. Thanks, Becca!

Anonymous | 1:46 PM

Thank you for reminding me why I wanted more than one child. My daughters are 16 months apart -- a little closer together than planned. And they are fantastic. But, with an infant and toddler, it is chaotic at home.

Sweet quiet moments dont come as often as they did when we just had one. I cant concentrate on my toddler daughter the way I used to. Im always distracted. And it always seems like one child isnt getting enough attention. One is always needing something. I never have enough hands. And sometimes I feel guilty that they are each not getting my full attention.

Today I spent time with my friend, who has a toddler the same age as mine. Her daughter had the most darling clothing and her hair is perfectly brushed. They came to the playdate ontime. I was late. My daughter's clothes were stained and her hair wasnt brushed. My daughter was crabby. Her daughter perfectly pleasant. I thought to myself "I was too busy with the baby to get everything together. Our life is a constant struggle of burning the candle at both ends."

Later, my friend told me that she and her husband will likely not be having any more children because, for them, the bond they have their one daughter is so strong. Life is so calm and manageable with one. Why make life more hectic? This way she can always give her daughter her full attention, all of her love.

But for me, Im happy with my choice. It's ok that it isnt what's best for my friend. But it is for my family. After the baby/toddler stage passes, and the dust settles, I will have given my children a great gift - eachother. And that is something they will have for their entire lives. Thank you for reminding me of that.

racher | 4:29 PM

First, I loved this. Great writing, and the video! Gah!

Second, our lives continue to parallel in ever increasing ways - I (Rachel) am the oldest and have a younger sister and brother (Sarah, Joseph) and have a boy who is just shy of five and a girl a month younger than Fable. ALSO, and most weird, I just got back from a cross country trip with my parents, siblings and son and had SO MANY of these thoughts ran through my head. Crazy.
Thanks for writing out the beauty of this magical thing, the overlaps of family of origin and created family. So amazing, all of it.

Perrin | 5:06 PM

I grew up as an only child, with a half-brother and a half-sister who were much older than me, and adults when I was born, and I always desperately wanted to have a sibling. I literally begged my parents every single day to give me a baby brother or sister. I asked them to adopt when they told me they were too old to have more children. I always knew that I wanted to have more than one child.

After my daughter was born and we thought about another pregnancy, I began to waiver. Would I be ruining Juliet's life? Would I take away from all the specialness between us? I turned out fine! She could too. But, my husband has a brother who is 17 months younger than him and he loved that. He promise me that things would be great, that having more was the right decision for our family. Still, it is hard to conceptualize what it will be like.

I am 6 months pregnant with a baby, and Juliet will be around 18 months when she becomes a big sister. Your words allowed me to peek into my future and see what is ahead. And it makes me so happy that we made the choice we did.

Thank you.

ZDub | 5:08 PM

Just perfect.

xo-z

Mox | 5:32 PM

That is so beautiful. I can't put into words how I am feeling right now. I just know god willed me to find this post. Today.
I am also the oldest. Only my brother died last year. Today would have been his 20th birthday.
I have so much guilt for my own meanness and selfishness taken out on my innocent little brother. And even more guilt knowing that he would forgive me though I don't deserve it.
Sorry I am blubbering. I am profoundly touched by this post and wanted you to know.
Your writing? Well, it rocks muh socks. Wish, hope, dream of writing that way someday!

Rebecca | 6:48 PM

This totally clicked with me. I'm the oldest of 4, I'm 26 and my brothers are 21 and 18 and my sister is 17. Just this past Christmas, I realized we were all able to relate to each other as adults now. And like you described, they now tell me what music to listen to and what books to read. =)

Re: the video: Awww. =) "Those are daddy's books, Fablela." Totally cute.

K | 6:49 PM

GGC- I am not a mommy but have been reading your blogs for a while now and this post really hit home. I am your age with a little sister who is almost 16. It wasn't until about a year ago that our relationship started to blossom. My sister battled demons of her own at a very young age and wile she was going though those things I always felt guilty and thought it was because of the way I treated her during her developmental and growing years. (I was horrible and really mean, being 10 years apart I was well into my angst teens days and she was a toddler wanting to grow and learn and be just like her big sister.) I now know that isn't the case and my sister and I have started building a relationship that will forever be my greatest. I know she doesn't hold a grudge towards me and we are still going to have our battles but I hope everyday that she still looks up to me and I dream of the day when I can look up to her and she can teach me things, although she has already taught me so much.

You have two very BEAUTIFUL children and I hope one day I am as blessed as you are. PLease keep up the wonderful writing!

Ray | 9:01 PM

I love hearing about Archer & Fable as the big brother and the little sister. They're so unbelievably adorable and beautiful together, and I know that will ALWAYS be the best of friends. Makes me wish I had an older brother (I've always wanted one, though I got stuck with being the oldest).

You have a wonderful way with words Rebecca. This post was MAGNIFICIENT and almost made me cry.

P.S. You should check out this song by "Cold" called, "Cure My Tragedy." The lead singer wrote it for his sister who had cancer. Such a beautiful song about the love of a sibling, absolutely awesome (again it makes me wish for an older brother, just listening to it).

Anonymous | 4:43 AM

so lovely to read.

emily bilbrey | 6:13 AM

um, so, after finding your blog on babble like two years ago and being a continuous reader/fan since then (yep, that's right - i'm geeking out and qualifying myself as a "fan" of yours!) i JUST found this blog!! i wished i'd have known sooner! what great stories you've shared here - lovely, just. love them.

well, i've got ya safely bookmarked, and i'll be reading. hope all is fantastic with you and yours. cheers!

julie forkner | 9:00 AM

I have just started following your blog & think today has solidified my addiction.

I was the baby of 6 kids, with a 13 year age gap from me to my closest aged sibling. Growing up, I had 8 parents telling me what to do, wear, read, eat & how to speak. It was exciting & confusing, enjoyable & annoying. The older I became the more resentful I was for not being allowed to just be, to just create the way I wanted, to grow the way I felt I needed. I didn't understand why my siblings - esp my closest - wouldn't just back off & lead their own lives.

I'm married now with a 5-year-old & a 2nd baby due in August & am so looking forward to the day when my boy becomes a big brother. He's already playing music to my belly & constantly asking if the baby is asleep or awake. If I tell him it's asleep, he wants to wake them up, if awake, he plays music to lull them to sleep. Not because he's a bossy child, he just wants to be involved somehow.

I loved this post because it helped me see siblinghood from a different angle & has given me a clearer view of what mine were going through, watching me grow up & make mistakes they knew they could have helped me avoid. Every paragraph brought forth more & more tears for me today. My family is not nearly as close to one another as yours, but reading this has given me hope for my own & for my babies - big & little, leader & follower - that hopefully someday when they're all 'grown up' they'll still laugh & love & reminisce about times past, & experiences survived.

Thanks for sharing this. I really appreciate it.

Chrisitna | 11:19 AM

I am here. 27 years old mother of 2 boys, ages 5 1/2 and 20 months. But also the oldest of siblings...sister to a 20 year old gorgeous brilliant theater actor who towers over me at 6 ft. 3 in. and is so smart and funny. A man now who I still remember in my deepest heart as my very first baby. Thank you Rebecca for always putting into words so much of what I think and feel. Happy New Year!

Jessica | 1:19 PM

A long-time reader here. Your posts about your family often make me teary. This one was no exception.
I have a younger brother who's taught me more than any friend ever has. He's also the reason I can tolerate the wars between my two kids -- because I know what comes after.

sxia | 5:12 PM

As I was the youngest, always telling my 7 years older bro-- "You're not Dad!" "You're not the boss! Girls can do the same stuff as boys!" -- I see things from a slightly different perspective. But as roommates for a few years, things changed. The sister took care of (cleaned up after) the slobby brother. And now, even though we're 7 years apart, those years have disintegrated and we're equals. I can't wait for the day when the two and a half years between Sammie and Max fade. But for now she's the BIG SISTER as she constantly reminds him; and he's teeny tiny, crawling around after her, grabbing at her skirt with pudgy fingers, pulling at her hair, and stealing her blocks away, slobbering on the edges.

sxia | 5:12 PM

As I was the youngest, always telling my 7 years older bro-- "You're not Dad!" "You're not the boss! Girls can do the same stuff as boys!" -- I see things from a slightly different perspective. But as roommates for a few years, things changed. The sister took care of (cleaned up after) the slobby brother. And now, even though we're 7 years apart, those years have disintegrated and we're equals. I can't wait for the day when the two and a half years between Sammie and Max fade. But for now she's the BIG SISTER as she constantly reminds him; and he's teeny tiny, crawling around after her, grabbing at her skirt with pudgy fingers, pulling at her hair, and stealing her blocks away, slobbering on the edges.

dana | 5:39 PM

Fablela!
Kills my heart.
My 3-year-old son calls his twin sister Josephini (not Josephine).
That stabs my heart too.
I'm so glad you have that on tape.
d

Anonymous | 7:57 PM

So interesting that so many older siblings have guilt over how they treated their younger siblings. I too am the oldest, and I also had guilt about being the mean bossy older sister to my only sister, who is 3 years younger.

When she and I entered our 20s, I wanted a friendship with her, but I began to worry that she did not want one with me. I noticed that I called her more often than she called me. I would ask her to meet up for lunch, and she would sometimes have an excuse why she couldnt go. I always assumed she was rightly punishing me for the past. Or it was just the organic way that chickens come home to roost. I hadnt done enough early-on to create a bond with her, so naturally she didnt feel a connection with me.

One day, I finally asked her about it. Her jaw completely dropped. She told me that she really didnt remember many times during our childhood when I was mean to her. She added, "and of course I forgive you for the times you were the bossy, overbearing older sister. We were kids. And I was probably mean to you to"

Ive realized that my sister wasnt punishing me for the past. She is just more of a introvert, and treats me the same as all of her friends. It was a huge weight off my shoulders. I suppose all of that time, I was punishing myself.

ninja | 10:27 PM

Your post moved me to tears.

I grew up an only child, always wanting a sibling, and now am a mother of siblings who get along great but with the same little bumps and frustrations as your kids. My daughter is 5 years old, and my son 2.

Not having had a first hand experience at any of the 'sibling business', i am learning as they're going. I hope they will grow up to stay as close as they're now ... despite the smaller and and larger battles that may lie ahead.

Beautiful pictures, btw.

Trista | 8:14 AM

This post was fascinating - I'm an only child, so I have no idea what this type of interaction is like when it's with someone you live with and with whom you share parents. We have a daughter now, but intend to have more children (or at least one more) and I often wonder how they will interact and how my daughter would adjust to being an older sister instead of an only child. You write beautifully.

Robyn | 9:22 AM

You totally ruin me, ya know. So often it seems I have this feeling, this thing on the tip of my heart that I'm working on waaaaay back in the back of my sentimental brain, something I know I'll need to blog about if I can only find the right words. And then before I can even shape the feelings into phrases there they are, right out of my own life and head and heart, On Your Blog, from your life and head and heart and fingertips, perfectly said.

And there's nothing else to say, really. I should just post a link to this on my blog and say, "Here. This is what I feel when I watch my two tiny little boys interacting." Except I was the middle child and so filled with a little bit of knowledge of both sides of the spectrum, a half-leader and half-follower, without the singular perspective of being just one of the two.

I'm blessed to read your stuff, Rebecca. You steal my thoughts in a beautiful way. Thanks for sharing.

3StinkyBoysAndMe | 7:49 PM

Oh, my, my, my... what a lovely post. The same thoughts run through my mind so much these days being a big sister and parenting two little boys: a big brother and a little brother. Your words were wonderful.

Pam | 11:15 PM

I'm the oldest too. Forgive me my two brothers :) Anyway, hearing Archer talk to his baby sister is so awesome. I remember not too long ago, speech was not so forth coming. Remember Mama? Time flows huh. Go Archer go! You are going to be a great Big Bro lil' man!

Rebecca | 2:36 PM

Archer sounds so sweet and caring. You're doing a great job!

I was the little sister. I had an older brother. But, I remember being the boss of him. I was downright bossy with him and I really don't know how he put up with me because he was always so much bigger than me....oh well. He still loves me.

Christine | 6:17 PM

This is your best piece yet. Maybe because I am the oldest of four is resonates with me but I just love it. So touching......

Oldest Girl | 10:16 AM

@Mox - after I read your comment I had to jump to the end and comment as well. I am in the same situation as you, although today is not his bday. I, too, feel horrible. I was so mean to him growing up. Ugh. If I decide to have children, "conflict resolution" will be a big theme in our house. Sigh. I guess, if it helps, I am in the same boat as you....

mommymae | 8:27 PM

he kills me the way he calls her fable-a. he loves her muchly & you and hal are doing such a great job nurturing them wholly in the way they need to be nurtured & taught. they can only glean from us what they will. we can't force it.

my relationship with my own siblings (older sister & younger brother) has changed much over the years. my sister & i have had a tumultuous reationship that has gotten better with distance, age & us becoming parents. my brother is still working on it.

Anonymous | 6:15 AM

This is the most beautiful thing I read in years.
Thank you for that.

Rebekah | 3:21 PM

I love this. It got me a little choked up thinking about my relationship with my siblings. Like you, I remember horrible things I said to them many years ago and wish I could take it all back. Thanks for reminding me of how thankful I am for them.