Sometimes when you have a second child you wonder what you were thinking during those fevered days of family planning. It’s double trouble. It’s mischief and mayhem. It’s refereeing and fending off the green eyed monster. And it’s twice as tiring and demanding (goodness knows how people cope with more than two!). But then there are those moments of sheer wonder – the growing bond, the teamwork, the companionship.
For me, the first signs of brotherly love began to show the day JJ came running through to the room I share with EJ (and still do now) and jumped into the cot with him first thing in the morning. Of course initially I was a bit worried about EJ’s safety – JJ was a boisterous 3 year old and bounced around that enclosed space like Tigger on acid. But as EJ has grown and developed he began to beam as soon as a pyjama-clad JJ came bounding into the room shouting his name gleefully. A bit of cot wrestling results in them both collapsing in fits of giggles and JJ sometimes even brings his portable DVD through and plays EJ a bit of his favourite – Chuggington. I actually overheard him the other day saying to EJ “you like Chuggington don’t you?” to which EJ readily responded “Yeah” – so cute when you consider that EJ probably had no idea what he’d just been asked but it demonstrated this companionable togetherness and made me feel just a little bit more in love with them both (if that’s possible!).
On Wednesdays my mum arrives to look after the children after I’ve left (but whilst hubster is still in bed sleeping on for a late shift). JJ has a tall stair gate across his doorway as his room faces the top of a steep flight of stairs. He’s never tried to climb over it before but last week she reported that he had pulled his little table/stool over, somehow flung himself over the top and she found him lying next to EJ in the cot! I do believe the time may have come to put them in together!!
I don’t have any recent pictures as I generally don’t have my camera with me first thing in the morning, but here’s an older one which demonstrates those ordinary moments of morning ‘in-cot’ hilarity:
Looking at the photo above I’m reminded of the day when JJ went from being an only child (at almost three years of age) to a big brother. He seemed to take it in his stride and never seemed jealous or tried to hurt EJ, and yet at the same time his behaviour went completely haywire – he became an extremely fussy eater, had some horrendous tantrums and began pushing the boundaries further and further.
Fortunately things settled down in the end and now, 18 months later, they play together, JJ refers to EJ as his best friend and delights in being the first to wake his brother and say Good Morning EJ!
When you have a newborn second child and find your family once again renewed its so difficult to project into the future and imagine what kind of bond and relationship your children will have with one another. And now, even though EJ is not a new baby any more, the situation is still new and renewing all the time as these two little boys discover and inspire each other’s developing personalities.
Having recently read a post from one of my favourite parenting blogs, Raising Edgar, on the subject of the decision to have (or in their case, not to have) more than one child, it got me thinking about why I wanted two myself. Of course there are just as many reasons for not wanting more than one as there are for not wanting any at all – the less you have the better off you are financially, the more time you are likely to have for your one child, or for yourself if you have none at all, the easier it is on your body and the way you live. Plus, no arguments to break up, no disagreements to mediate, no fights to referee…
As I said in my comments on the aforementioned post, I can’t, off the top of my head, give a really valid reason except to say that with one child it felt like we were a house with three walls and now, with our two boys, it feels like we’re a house with four walls – ie, complete, symmetrical.
Financially, childcare is the key factor that we had to take into consideration and I think timing is key on that one. Being an older mum I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for JJ to turn school age before getting knocked up for the second time, but I did, just about, have time to get him to pre-school age at which point nursery fees dropped by 3 quarters, just in time for EJ’s to kick in! In future it will of course be more expensive to go on holiday, out for a meal, day trip, anything really, but those are all luxuries that you either put aside for, downgrade or give up on until finances permit.
To us though (and I’m guessing to a vast number of other people) the material considerations are massively outweighed by the desire to fulfill our destiny as a family. I am one of two, my mum and dad are both one of two, the hubster is one of two – I guess for us two is the magic number. I can’t imagine being happier now if I’d been an only child. I love my sister and I love my nieces. I love the fact that that my boys have got cousins (albeit girls who are a decade older than them but still just as loved!) (their cousins on the hubster’s side live in another country mind you so they never get to spend time together but that’s another post).
And to the argument that you don’t need a sibling later in life because you make better friends – well, maybe that’s true, I don’t know from personal experience but I do appreciate feeling a part of something which to me, is forever, binding and unconditional. Maybe that’s not true of everyone’s families but it is true of mine.
I am also just starting to see the lovely relationship forming between my sons – even with EJ at the tender age of 15 months. JJ makes him laugh hysterically chasing him up and down, and, even though EJ is known as the Destroyer of All Things, JJ still also refers to him as his best friend.
And despite my longing for a little girl, I’m glad that I had two boys because I think they will have so much more to do with each other’s lives and so much more in common as time goes by.
To those reading this who may want but be unable to have a second child, I really hope this doesn’t come across smug or thoughtless in any way – I do realise how lucky I am and this is merely an unravelling of my own, up to this point, undefined reasoning for making my life (temporarily) more difficult. Two is not by any means better than one, or three, etc, ad infinitum, but it is nice to have been able to have the choice and been blessed with the gift of fulfilling the biological destiny which I had mapped out for myself as far back as I can remember.