The Art of Being Older

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Archer calls it "lifeguarding", the need to look after and teach, to sing and rock and sit with. He told me the other day, as we stood rocking the babies to sleep side by side, a bottle in his lap and one in mine that he "had it under control", that I could go back to work if I needed to because he had this. I almost believed him. When the babies finally dozed off I put them in their crib side by side and left the room. Not Archer. Archer pushed his stool to the side of their bed and watched.

"A lifeguard doesn't leave," he said.
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Yesterday Fable told me she wanted to be a doctor when she grows up, so she can take care of babies. I wondered if that came from our just spending a long afternoon at the doctor's office, the babies in for their two-month shots and check up. (Bo was a whopping 11lbs 4oz and Rev was 9lbs 6.) She told me that she wanted to be the "night kind of doctor" and I thought back to those weeks in the NICU, a thousand years ago/ yesterday when Hal drove Archer and Fable through the darkness to visit the babies and me. We were all a little nervous then. A little scared and protective. The fear is gone now but the protective never went away.
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I used to think that the more children a family had, the less time and energy they'd have to care for them because how can one mother possibly dote on all those children? When we found out we were having twins, that was my biggest fear. How could I possibly be a decent mother to FOUR? It is clear to me now, not only how big families "survive" but also how they flourish. When Archer was a baby, Hal and I were his everything. But Boheme and Reverie have this:
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As an older sister, it took having children of my own to understand my role, my influence and responsibility. But now, watching our four together, it's like watching miniature adults redefining what it means to be "big". And even on the days I feel lost, trying to recognize myself in the reflection of all these eyes, I am found because of them. Because somehow they always know to come to my rescue. Before I even think to ask, they are here.
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In Archer's Thankful Book at school, he wrote about being thankful for "his twins". Because as much as they are mine and Hal's, they are his. Fable's too. How lucky Bo and Rev are to have such doting lifeguards...
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... How lucky I am to have them too.

GGC

88 comments:

Marie-Ève | 9:48 AM

<3

Kels | 9:49 AM

As a person who wants to have a large family, but hasn't really been able to articulate why, thank you so much for this post! The power of their connection and care for one another is just so visible. I love it.

Erin | 9:57 AM

Very lucky. That Archer gives me goose bumps. What a guy!

Claudia | 10:00 AM

It is so beautiful to see how much your children all love one another.

Abbey | 10:01 AM

We are now expecting our third with many of the same worries and this is such a wonderful, reassuring perspective. Thank you!

Emily | 10:05 AM

Just so perfectly sweet! I love that your older children take their responsibility so seriously. That Archer has a certain gravitas that is heartwarming. Happy Thanksgiving!

Sara | 10:09 AM

I just adore you and your family. My husband and I are trying for our first and I secretly hope/fear they are twins. Now maybe I would like an older sibling first...

annabelvita | 10:09 AM

But Boheme and Reverie are going to treasure those pictures. So beautiful!

In some of these pictures Reverie looks more like Fable than Fable does! I know that sounds silly but I'll always think of Fable as a tiny baby.

Toots | 10:11 AM

'A lifeguard doesn't leave' what a kid :)
Beautiful post

diana banana | 10:13 AM

*POP* my heart just exploded. i officially love archer and fable, it's so amazing to see the unspeakable connection they have to those babies, and the way the little ones look towards their older sibs with such trust is beyond....i don't know, beyond anything words can say. my first children will be identical twin girls (in 1 month!!), and seeing your family develop these roles amongst themselves already makes me want more kids.

cd | 10:13 AM

Aw, dang it. C'mon, Rebecca. I'm trying really hard to keep the ovaries closed here. Seriously. One child is plenty. Right? I mean, isn't it? She doesn't NEED a sibling. Ohhhhh no, here it comes.... yes she doesssss.
(I suppose I'm only slowed from jumping into bed with hubs to try for another right now by the memories of the non-relationship I had with my younger sister. I was a failure as a sibling. Abjectly so.)

mom2nji | 10:13 AM

Archer reminds me so much of my Noah. Arabella is HIS baby too, all of the boys have taken on the responsibility of protecting her. I love Archers name for it!

Cindy | 10:15 AM

I want to reach through the pictures and hug them all. I kind of just want to follow Archer around and listen to him preach. You guys are one very lucky, very blessed family.

bridgette | 10:32 AM

These pictures made me so happy

JLF | 10:32 AM

Thank you for sharing this beautiful post and heart-warming pictures. I grew up as an only-child and so far, my husband & I have a 4 yr old son. I've been sitting on the fence for a while about having baby #2, mainly because I can't imagine what it would be like - for my son - to share our time & attention. Your post made me realize that he's probably more ready to welcome a new baby into our family than I am!

Alyssa | 10:39 AM

I love your family. I find myself wanting to name my future children Archer and Fable purely because of posts like this where they are such beautiful children {note: I realize no child is 100% 'beautiful' all the time}.

By the way, how did Archer turn out to be such a perfect grown-up gentleman with a heart and soul way beyond his years?!

Kerry | 10:44 AM

I teach kindergarten and I've found that kids consistently refer to younger siblings as THEIR BABIES. Not "my sister", "my brother" or "my mom/dad's baby", but MINE.

As someone enjoying watching my three year old with our new baby, I loved this post.

RSilvies | 10:44 AM

Wow, what a beautiful post and what beautiful children (inside and out!). You must be so thankful for them! You really do make it look easy!

Bracha | 10:46 AM

I have five kids, who now range in age from 16 to 29. But I still remember that the most difficult transition was between one and two children. After that, they all just fell into place. And now that they're pretty much all going their separate ways, they still love being together whenever possible!
Enjoy your big family!!

Jenny Rae Rappaport | 10:48 AM

When I was a little girl, I was convinced that my brother was my very own baby doll, born expressly for me to play with. =) I used to roll him around our apartment in my doll stroller, put him in my doll highchair, and I helped my mom diaper and feed him all the time. I was very good at handing over diapers, I'm told.

And even though I'm older now, not the 3 and a half year old I was when he was born, he's still my baby brother. Even if he frustrates me to no end, family is still family. =)

Perfectly Impurfect Me | 10:58 AM

*sniffles* I love!

Flannery | 10:59 AM

What a beautiful post. As "the baby" in the family, I can't even begin to express the influence my sister has had on me over the years- as a role model, critic, partner-in-crime, compatriot, friend, and teacher. Our shared histories create a bond that is so special and strong.

robin | 11:05 AM

I heart them.

LindaB | 11:24 AM

Wonderful post and pics! For the first time, I noticed how much Fable is starting to resemble you as she is losing a bit of the baby face. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your cute family!

Laura Jane | 11:26 AM

Beautifully written and photographed. Thanks for putting a smile on my face!

J from Ireland | 11:59 AM

Wow what beautiful babies you have, all four of them. I am just in the middle of reading your book, Rockabye, your journey with Archer. I LOVE your book and LOVE your honesty and your kick ass writing. Its a pure pleasure to come here to your blog and have the continuation of your very interesting and very cool lifestory. Thank you so much for sharing.
Julieanne.

VlogMom | 12:18 PM

How do you always make me cry? You are a very blessed woman, as you know :) Thanks for sharing

Sarah | 12:43 PM

This is my favorite post yet. LOVE.

Nicole Francois | 12:55 PM

Wonderful post with lots of beautiful photos, but Jeez Louise, all I could think was how even more UNalike the babies look when dressed the same (which I don't think you've shown before). Truly, genetics is an unruly beast.

bessie.viola | 12:57 PM

This is so beautiful. I am one of four, and it is a WONDERFUL dynamic to grow up in. I mean, of course there is some fighting, but there is nothing to compare to that crowd of people who solidly love you.

This whole thing just made me teary. Archer has a beautiful old soul, he really does.

elizabeth | 12:59 PM

my baby is wearing that same brown outfit with the stars. your family is so sweet. my older daughter is fable's age and i have found it so incredible to watch her with our new baby... having another child has made me love her in such a new way

Heidi | 1:00 PM

As an only, this made me come undone. I have two and watching their dynamic as they've grown (now 17 and 21) has time and again made me come undone.

I always longed for a sib, but it wasn't in the cards for our family. It's a longing I do believe will never, ever, ever be quelled.

Lucky indeed. Bless you all.

flyrish | 1:42 PM

Your family is probably my favorite among people I don't know in real life. Does that make sense? Ha. Anyway, LOVE this post and the big bro and big sis.

Katie | 2:32 PM

You know what they say, good things come to good people. You all deserve each other - you are a most wonderful, inspiring family and I'm sure you guys don't even realise just how inspiring you are (even putting that down into words doesn't do that justice). Thank you!

Naz | 2:55 PM

SOOO CUTE! Oh my goodness! Those photos are so precious and reminded me of when my baby sister was born and how our 7 year age gap made me feel like I was another mum to her. Actually I still feel like that about her, and now that she is 23 I still see her as my baby sister. :)

All your kids are just absolutely gorgeous :)

Amber | 3:02 PM

I love your blog!! I have read all the way back to when Archer was a baby and it is amazing how for you and your family have come in the last few years!! You are an amazing writer and the love you have for your family and children is abundantly clear! Archer and Fable look like they are enjoying their new roles and bigger brother and big sister! The babies look like they are growing and getting big and healthy!! I have started my own blog this last week and am quite enjoying the therapeutic feeling it gives me to write in it!! You are an inspiration that is for sure!! There are only a few posts and I am starting out doing a photo challenge but if you have time stop by for a peak!! heretothereinayear.blogspot.com

doahleigh | 3:15 PM

I come from a family of 5 kids, and I completely agree. We had more than parents - we didn't need them to dote on us all the time or be our sole support. We had each other then, and we have each other now, and my siblings are the best gift my parents ever gave me.

jessicapea | 3:30 PM

:,)

Kristen | 3:56 PM

Love this post. I think sibling relationships can be so magical. I remember when my mom brought my littlest baby brother home, I was 8 and I too told her I had the baby under control...she didn't really need to be involved anymore. I HAD it. She didn't agree...but being able to care for that baby (to the extent that I could being 8) was such a powerful experience for me...

Clandestine Road | 4:07 PM

This was such a touching post. Those pictures are beautiful, but the look on Archer's face? Priceless.

Alissa | 4:19 PM

I love this. And these photos are so good.

Christina Rosalie | 4:25 PM

I love the way you see motherhood: not as all consuming, but as an opportunity to grow... I also think it's quite possible that you make the most beautiful children on the planet. Seriously, how can you stand to look at all four of them together? Cherubs. Lucky kiddos. Lucky mama. xox!

GreerAnn | 5:11 PM

I can't tell you how much I love this post and these pictures. You look at your children in such a beautiful way an are gifted with the ability to express it so well. They are lucky to you have you, and we are lucky to get to share in it all.

julia | 5:19 PM

I'm 1 of 4 of a father who's 1 of 12 (and loved it) and a mother who's an only (and loathed it). My relationship with my younger brothers has shaped me into a better, happier, more successful person in innumerable ways (just as I see happening with your kids!). I think especially now (when kids are unlikely to grow up daily with their cousins, when we're facing a global need to think of others/share better in almost every way, when parents are more likely to get old enough to suffer mental decline/need months/years of care) it's short-sighted and selfish when parents *choose* to only have one child. Clarification: I don't judge individuals because I don't know particulars (and it isn't my business!) and many of the issues that limit family size are harder enough without me making assumptions or thinking I have all the answers. For myself, my ideal would be 3-5 though I realize how little control I have over that.

Rae | 5:19 PM

It's so true. I don't have twins, but I have four, very close together, and the love spills out from everyone. It's a big love cake. Your family is beautiful.

kittenpie | 5:38 PM

omg your son Bec, is amazing.

Amber S | 6:15 PM

This was so nice to read...I'm getting induced on Friday morning with our own twins (38 weeks!), and hope that our two year old daughter can be a great lifeguard too!

dna | 6:21 PM

and now I am weeping... beautiful family...

FSURia | 8:26 PM

I love it! You have such wonderful kids and such a beautiful family!

Emily | 8:39 PM

I hope every day that my son turns out as marvelous as yours. (And that any subsequent children follow suit.) Thank you for sharing.

Nysha | 8:40 PM

The love that Archer and Fable express toward Bo & Rev is a reflection of the love they receive from their parents. You are awesome people and the world is a better place because you've chosen to pass your values on to another generation.

parentingwithpinot.com | 9:54 PM

Thank you for posting this. We are expecting our second baby next summer and I am currently shitting the bed over worrying about taking care of another child and being able to do everything for everyone. Until I read this. Thank you for repopulating the world with such wonderful kids :)

Barbara Arnsan | 10:09 PM

Rebecca,
It's Thanksgiving Eve and reading your blog and being mesmerized by the incredible photos of your closeknit family, shows what really counts - unconditional love. You are your mother's daughter and a reflection of an incredible woman. As they say, not far from the tree does the apple fall. All I can say is this was inspiring.
Barbara Arnsan

Glenda | 12:35 AM

Beautiful family!!! I love watching my 2 share their love. My son is over protective of his sister. You can see the love!

Happy Thanksgiving to your beautiful family!!!

lola + oliver | 4:51 AM

I read your posts about sleep deprivation on babble last night before I went to bed. Later, I had a dream in which I went to your house, announced that your nanny clearly is not doing her job, and offered you MY services (because I have experience nannying for a family with 5 girls, the youngest of whom were twins). Hilarious, eh? Dreams are strange. But seriously -- if you need me, I'll jump coasts and lend a hand. I'm great with lots of kids! I'll cook and clean and play and let you nap! :)

Happy Thanksgiving!! xoxoxoxx

Jeninne | 5:31 AM

Waaaaaaaa! This has me bawling like a baby. Wonderful! You are all very lucky to have each other!

Anabelle | 5:45 AM

I totally understand you and feel exactly the same with my children. Beautiful pictures.

Anonymous | 10:47 AM

Archer's an old soul.

haleyhd | 10:52 AM

A beautiful post. Thank you for sharing!

Jamie | 8:15 PM

This is one of my favorite posts! What a great glimpse into this special dynamic relationship between your older children and babies! Beautiful. I think they are blessed to have each other and they will continue to be as they grow. My son is about Archer's age and I think he would be totally protective too if I had another baby!

Maria | 3:35 AM

I can only imagine the amazing feeling you get seeing your two older children care SO much for your twin babies.

Archer & Fable are amazing, as is your family.

Such a beautiful post.

Blessed With a Boy | 7:51 AM

You said it perfectly. You can feel the love through the photo and your words were the perfect topping.

Claire Gibson King | 9:16 AM

wow, you have the most amazing kids. archer is just a old soul, a lifegaurd...amazing to have said such a thing. you have done such a wonderful job raising your family. I can't wait to watch them grow and continue to read about their/your lives.

Rosstwinmom | 11:16 AM

Again, I cry. Some day Archer will change not just his world, but all of ours, and I'll be able to say I was in on the beginning.

We won't be having anymore kids after our twins, but I know if I did, it would be into a loving home of older brothers waiting to help and watch.

Bea | 12:12 PM

These are amazing photos!

I'm new to your site, but I've read a lot of your older posts. I really enjoyed reading your many insights and experiences!

Unknown | 12:32 PM

Beautiful family and amazing nursery! I followed it from the beginning, it looks fantastic! Congrats!

Brooke | 4:15 PM

You are so lucky to have both Archer and Fable be so...aware? I have just one 6 month old child. But for the past 11 weeks, I have been picking up my cousin's almost-7 and 8.5 year old daughters from school each day and keeping them until 6pm. The oldest seems to just "know" when I am in need of helping hands, a break or a mental time-out. She'll say "As soon as I finish my homework, I'll take her." It's quite amazing and even though it's chaotic-getting homework for two completed, "welcoming" my husband home and caring for my baby all at once- I can totally picture us doing it, years from now.

Kris | 10:08 AM

Oh gawd, sobbing. Beautiful, the love that you all share.

Your children are so lucky to have you and Hal and each other. I'm not religious at all (so I don't throw this word around), but your family is blessed in every sense of the word.

elb | 2:57 PM

You have some amazing kids. You really make it seem like they never argue, never fight, never cross each other in the slightest. That just can't be true, can it? And seriously, where does Archer get all of his wisdom? You are so very blessed :)

Heather | 10:03 PM

Beautiful post! What a beautiful thing when your kids pass on the love you've given to them. What adorable "lifeguards"! You're doing a great job, mama!

Karynn | 5:10 PM

Wonderful pictures! Your children are beautiful.

Lexie, Little Boat | 7:35 PM

i am one of four (second born), and the love i have for my siblings is unending and incredibly special. now that we are mostly grown (25, 23, 20, 18), we're hitting that age where we only see each other at holidays and special occasions! it's so hard sometimes thinking about how we'll never be under the same roof for any extended period of time!

Pearmama | 8:56 PM

Thank you! Yes, you have the discovered the secret to this large family thing. Along the way, they learn to coexist and love and care for each other.

tarable | 6:58 AM

Holy tears. Thank you.

Caitlin | 9:12 AM

Your children break my heart. They are so wonderful

Priscilla Edwards | 9:20 AM

"a lifeguard doesnt leave". What a lovely boy. I am certain I will quote him.

Bonnie | 10:43 AM

I just cried my fucking eyes out reading this. Such an awesome way to describe how siblings love on each other. It's like nothing else.

The Bevins Bunch | 11:52 AM

Makes me tear up to see this post - so sweet! I love Archer's term, lifeguarding. My son calls his twin brothers "his babies" too. :)

Angie | 1:53 PM

"a lifeguard never leaves"

that about melted me and of course made me all teary. so very sweet.

flyrish | 2:22 PM
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Chuck n Jess | 2:31 PM

Archer is more amazing by the day. Now... I want a thousand kids!

Anonymous | 3:16 PM

gosh what a lovely post. all four are so very lucky to have each other!

lisafoose | 8:20 AM

beautiful. Archer and Fable are just so dear. and I love that Bo and Rev are sharing a crib.

Annie | 12:40 PM

Hi Rebecca!

I've been reading your blog for a few years now and I love it! Thank you for sharing all that you do.

Last year an online event called Reverb10 was conducted by a few ladies and had thousands of participants. They're not leading the charge again this year, so a fellow blogger and myself are taking a shot at it. If you would like to participate, please go to http://perpetualramblings.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/kicking-off-reverb11/ to find out more. I know this isn't the typical kinds of content you put on your blog, but if you know of someone else who might like to participate, please pass the link along.

Hope all is well and that you have a magical holiday season!

Thanks!
~Annie

Nicole | 1:28 PM

<3 <3 <3

Cynthia Ford | 2:46 PM

Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing your magical family with us. I have three children and I don't know what I would do without my oldest to help me with his siblings sometimes. I was raised as an only child with much older half siblings so I missed out on the joy siblings bring. I am glad my children and yours will get to have that blessing in their lives.

Ray | 5:16 PM

One: Archer's amazing times a million-bajillion-katrillion.
Two: Fable's precious.
Three: You have a gorgeous family, who are blessed BEYOND measure.
Four: It makes me want to cry.
Five: "And even on the days I feel lost, trying to recognize myself in the reflection of all these eyes, I am found because of them." Beautiful sentiment.
Six: Thank you, for your beautiful entries. Thanks, for sharing your loves with us. <3

Jessea Knight | 7:33 PM

this is beautiful. i have a 5 and 4 yr old....and plan for more. :) what a great picture for my future--- you have a great family.