141 days. That is how long it took. I know the date and time and have photographic evidence. It was a huge deal! You could say I’d been eagerly anticipating the moment, whilst beginning to wonder if it would ever actually happen, or indeed if they were destined to be arch enemies for life!
In those 141 days we had tears, tantrums, cuddles and kisses, more tears and tantrums, all mixed in with jealous snatching, pushing and hitting. I could not safely leave the two boys in one room, even to go to the toilet, without expecting to return to a screaming baby and guilty looking older brother.
What on earth had happened to love at first sight?
I don’t recall reading any parenting books on introducing siblings. In hindsight maybe I should have done! I know I’d had my suspicions that it would not all be plain sailing and I did go as far as to read a children’s book endlessly to our eldest, convinced that this would ease the journey for him.
We were on a steep learning curve and rapidly discovered that life doesn’t happen quite like they describe in the ‘Becoming a Big Brother’ book. Our three year old would end up with next to no protected ‘mummy time’ and when he did finally find a few minutes between a sickly baby and an exhausted, frazzled, highly emotional mummy, it would always be disturbed by the realities of daily life.
I suppose we are surrounded by unrealistic expectations fed to us from media, books, etc, that we begin to believe them as the norm. All showing instant reactions of love upon meeting a future boyfriend, husband, baby, sibling. Who knows, maybe fellow mums skirt around the real truths, through fear of not conforming to societal, or indeed their own, expectations for their growing family.
I’ve always tried to be quite honest with myself and others that it was not love at first sight for my children. Please don’t get me wrong, affection was present but I’m pretty certain the love was one-sided for some time. My eldest struggles with empathy and is not overly paternal (no doubt the underlying reason for my obsessive retelling of the big brother book, desperate to convince him all would be happy and wonderful). He struggled to adjust to being a big brother and to understand why mummy and daddy were all consumed by this new little being. Who can blame him, I certainly don’t!
I’ve come to learn that it is perfectly OK for love to take its time. Not all love is instant. This doesn’t make the love any weaker. The heart just needs time to grow to make room for new love. Growing a little each day until it is so full of love it spills out in words and actions. In our case, it took 141 days of growing before Bubba had the realisation of just how much love he had for his baby brother and it spilled out in cuddles and the words “Mummy, I really love my baby brother”. I could not be more pleased (and if I am honest, a little relieved!) to hear these words after what felt like a fairly long time.
Now, I often hear Bubba saying “I love you more than you love me”, and watch our youngest smiling back, unable to construct the words to reply. It is wonderful and reassuring to hear and I feel safe in the knowledge that despite all the competing, bickering, snatching and fighting, they secretly (and sometimes publicly) adore each other and always will. A very special love indeed, that took time to forge its strength and continues to grows each and every day. Brothers. Best buddies for life.