It was 1988. I was 8 1/2. (That half is crucial when you are a kid.) My mom had just given birth to my baby brother. Once I had gotten over the initial bummer of finding out my new sibling had the wrong genitalia, I went to the hospital along with my Grandma and Aunt to meet the little creature.
I’ve been handed 6 other newborn baby boys since then. All of those were my sons. I recall THIS memory just as vividly as I recall those. Except I think there was much more adoration and magic and bliss with my sons. When they handed me my baby brother, I cradled him awkwardly, peered into his little wrinkly red face and thought two things immediatly “Wow, he’s small.” and “Boy, he’s weird looking.”
He didn’t look anything like the baby doll my mom had bought me months earlier to get used to properly holding a baby. He wasn’t all rosy-cheeked and plump and dimply and smiley. He was pink and scrawny. He looked sort of like a bald monkey. He sqaulled a lot. He was weird. And annoying. And kinda boring.
One day at home, while watching my mom change his clothes and attempt to shove his rubber, wiggly arms and legs into some ugly, tacky 80’s style sailor outfit, I informed my mother “He looks weird.” (His skin was all splotchy from screaming for teh past five minutes, which wasn’t helping matters.) She replied “All babies look like that.” I wondered what led so many women to want to be moms if THAT is what they end up with.
But then he started growing. He started plumping up and crawling around. (MAN did he plump up. He became a bit of an over-achiever in the weight-gain department.) He got downright cute. And fun. And I started to forgive him a little for being a boy.
When I was 11 and he was 3, we shared a bedroom. Not a great deal for me. He liked destroying my stuff. But at night I would scoop him up in my arms and rock him while singing ” His” song (the one I always sang to him- “Kuckabearah”) and rocked him until my arms ached. I loved it. It was my first taste of motherhood. A glimpse of what was to come. I woudl weave him elaborate stories about the “dew fairies”, explaining to him that teh reason the grass glistened with dew in the early morning was because the dew fairies came out late at night to dance on the grass. We would venture out onto the lawn after dinner time and hunker down to brush our hands across the damp blades of grass and he would stare in awe as I would whisper the magical tale once again.
I lived 8 years with just my mother. We were a GIRL home. Now here was this boy to come along and stir it all up. Suddenly we became privy to matchbox cars and Star wars and Pokemon. He was a strange breed. He would spend a solid half hour just lining up his crayons by color in OCD-like rows at the table. He did the same thing with his matchbox cars, lining them up in categories in his room. I found it sort of creepy. I preferred the chaos and clutter of my bedroom, where my clothes all lived on the floor and stuff sometimes grew under my bed. He saved every penny he earned. I blew my cash on junk. He kept his Halloween candy until Christmas. I devoured all of mine in two days. And then would sneak into his room to eat from HIS stash. (Sorry, bro, that’s where all of your chocolate went.)
Then he got a little older and started developing this awesome sense of humor. And intelligence. He was awesome. Suddenly he was evolving into my FRIEND. (gasp) I could discuss things with him. Thoughts, beliefs , ideas. I could laugh with him. laugh until I cried. Laugh until our stomachs hurt.Laugh while our mom eyed up suspiciously like we were both certifiably nuts and she wasn’t certain if we could possibly genetically be hers.
My brother and I are opposites in so many ways. He lives in New England, in a busy tourist state. He’s a college graduate, works full time at the same job he has held since he was 16. I’m a hippie mother of soon-to-be-7. I live in a small Southern town and spend my days home schooling and blogging. But what connects us is that one single, unbreakable thread called FAMILY. Nothing can sever that. Not distance or age or pathways taken individually. I would stand up beside him and defend any cause that stirred his heart. I would walk through hell with him. I would swing my sword with every bit of courage I could muster to protect him. He is my brother. That word encapsulates it all. He is the zen to my tantrum. The calm to my storm. The GPS to my hopelessly lost. The nerd to my hippie. The wise to my intuition. The believer to my fantasy. And I love him. Not only because he is my brother, but also simply because he is a genuinly groovy guy.