When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, one of my first purchases was an ‘I’m a big brother’ tee-shirt for my son B. I bought a few big brother books, too, including a cute one called “Mail Harry to the Moon.” When I found out my second child was going to be another boy, I was very excited that I was going to have two little boys- brothers- who would be only 27 months apart. My husband and his younger brother are also two years apart, and they are very close. I was hoping the same for my boys.
As we neared N’s due date, I bought each of them presents to give to each other in the hospital: a stuffed monkey for N, and wooden trains for big brother B. When N was born and B visited us in the hospital, he was not interested in his little brother. I was not concerned. Once we got home, the indifference continued for the first week or so. Once my husband went back to work, however, and I was alone with two boys, my son started complaining about his baby brother. Every time I sat down to nurse N, B would start demanding something. Even if I tried to anticipate every need he could possibly have and take care of it before I sat down, B would still request something, then throw a fit when I could not get up to help him.
As N got older, B’s complaints escalated. When N started sitting up and reaching for toys, B started having meltdowns. I had never needed to discipline B or give him time-outs until this point. B was repeatedly hitting or pushing his brother, or taking away toys. I felt like I was spending much of my time yelling at B, putting him in time-outs or consoling a crying child. I was stressed. I tried to spend as much time with B as possible when N was napping, and my husband had alone time with B, but it did not seem to help.
Now I really began to worry. Were my beautiful boys ever going to get along?
When N turned two his language exploded. Now he could hold little conversations with his big brother. B seemed to enjoy playtime more with N, in part because he had a little brother who followed him everywhere and wanted to do whatever he wanted to do. Sometimes I would find them sitting together reading a book or playing together with a toy. I continued to focus on alone time with each child. I spent time with N while B was in school three mornings per week, and I spent every afternoon playing with B while N took an afternoon nap. My husband has alone time with each child, too.
Recently, on one of their outings, my husband bought B a cookie. He ate it in the car on the way home, but when he got to the last few bites, he asked my husband to wrap it up in a napkin and save it for his brother. He was very proud to come home and give a treat to N.
Last week during breakfast, B looked at N and said “I love you more than eating.” I was reduced to tears. I know they will have their ups and downs over the years, but for now, we have a house full of brotherly love.
This is an original blog post for Jersey Moms Blog by Elizabethboys, a New Jersey mom.
Photo credit given to Columbine Church of Christ.