There was a time when I thought I’d never witness a scene like this – a moment in which two of my children played together.
I thought my daughter was destined to be an only child, at least this side of heaven. And while I know she would have been okay – that we all would have been okay – I prayed for her to have a live-in playmate.
To experience life with a sibling. To have someone to grow up and old with. To do life with another person who she could commiserate with about the hard work of growing up – because as an adult, I so often forget. To have someone she could share secrets with. A buddy who’d be at the center of her childhood memories. Someone she could complain to about how embarrassing and out of touch her parents are. A loyal companion who’d cover for her mistakes. Someone to roll her eyes with when my back is turned.
For five years, I watched her play solo. And while she was good at that, always independent, rarely needing to be entertained, I prayed for her to have a sibling. And so did she. With hands folded and eyes closed, she’d send a prayer up to God, asking for a brother or sister – she wasn’t picky.
And then one day, a brother came home with her. And she smiled. And we smiled. And God smiled.
These days, she doesn’t always appreciate being a big sister, much like I don’t always appreciate being a mom – because I’m human and I’m tired and I easily forget what a gift this all is. But watching her blossom in her big-sister role is one of my life’s greatest joys. To observe her taking on the roles of protector, teacher, entertainer, helper, and leader makes my mama heart proud. And while I now know life could still have been good with one child, to think I might have missed this makes my heart tremble.
It’s true that I sometimes let myself remember the days in which it was just me and her. And honestly, sometimes I miss them. Looking back, I recall a certain sense of ease in caring for one child. But at the time, nothing about it felt easy. When pregnancy tests were negative and babies died, I wondered if I was failing her. The guilt and grief over it all sometimes took me away from her – at times I lost sight of what I had as I dreamt of what I wanted.
But we’re together now and I see her with him – two dreams come true, two answered prayers. It’s never perfect. It’s always hard. And sometimes I want to run away.
But it’s moments like this, in between the bickering and tattling, that I remember where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.
And it makes me smile.
These are the moments I cling too, because they’re not always this peaceful or picture-perfect.
And I hope that as they grow older, they’ll cling to these moments too. And that the catalog of memories they collect over the years will cause them to look back and smile.