Thursday, May 31, 2007

Brothers and Sisters

Siblings. Brothers and sisters. The last couple days I went about my life with the beginnings of a blog about siblings fermenting in my head. More specifically I was planning on lamenting how impossible it seemed to be to get my children to get along with theirs.

We have 4 children. The older two bicker constantly. This is not an exaggeration. Almost every moment they are in a room together they will pick at each other, belittle each other. Fight...until I separate them or threaten them with a punishment severe enough to get them to stop speaking all together.

We had 4 children because we wanted our kids to grow up in a large family. We wanted them to feel part of a community, to learn to share and problem solve. I liked the idea of a noisy, chaotic house full of children. And years down the road, grandchildren. It was also important to me that they have siblings that would be in their corner, when we were no longer here to help them fight their battles. So when it seems that my kids, not only can't get along, but genuinely don't like each other. It feels like a failure, the end of a dream.

So I pray a lot. I pray for God to help me teach my children to love each other. To change their hearts. And some days it's just a desperate plea..."Lord, please today, just let my kids Not Fight!"

Then, as part of research for this blog, I started really watching my kids yesterday, observing the way they interact with each other. Looking for interesting anecdotes to share. What I found surprised me, though it shouldn't have. I knew these things, I just got bogged down in the negative.

I saw Ben crawling along the floor next to Clara just to watch her laugh. I saw him bring her a cracker to share. I saw him try to comfort her when she was crying. I saw Brandon wrestling with Ben. This happens every day in our house and I usually discourage it because Ben ends up hurt. But I saw it for what it really was: a rough, physical expression of love. They really enjoy each others company. I saw Brandon cooing and talking to Clara with a tenderness we never see from our 15 year old.

No it wasn't idyllic, Brandon & Allison still fought mercilessly and I sent them to their rooms. Ben still snatched his toys away from Clara and made her cry. But in the cracks, between the fighting, the crying, the nitpicking there were glimmers of genuine kindness and love. So last night when I prayed my familiar prayer asking Jesus to help my children love, I first thanked Him for showing me the ways they already do.


Don and Lynn said...

Great pics! Very sweet!

Spice Girl said...

This has been on my mind a lot lately too. I was thinking over Mother's Day weekend how my mom used to say all she wanted for mother's day was for my sis and me to get along. I would roll my eyes.

Now I understand why she always said that. That would truly be the greatest gift a mother could have. Still waiting for that gift-wrapped package to come to me...but I do enjoy those FEW moments that are peaceful.

Joy, of course! said...

Ging, I say that too on Mother's Day. Every Single Year I say, all I want in a whole day with no fighting. I haven't received it yet. I am still holding on to hope though. Surely they can accomplish this when they are all, say...25?

Christine said...

My two are only 6 and 2 and they have just started in with the rolling on the ground trying to maul each other fights. It is shocking and sad as my sister and i NEVER fought like that. We argued a bit, but for the most part we were really close and happy. But it has only been few times, so hopefully it will pass.

slouching mom said...

Your children are so attractive.

My boys fight all the time. But like you watching your children, I see my boys being incredibly loving to each other when they're not fighting.

I'd rather they have the emotional extremes than feel nothing for each other.

Though the fighting makes me want to scream. And sometimes I do.

karen said...

First, Joy, your children are gorgeous! Nice work. :) I am thankful every day to know that my kids love each other and I remain amazed that they often choose to spend time with each other, so much so that they are frequently treated as a package deal on invitations. Granted they spend a good deal of the time they're together yelling or wrestling, but they're still together by choice!

Ging - growing up, I was always jealous of your relationship with Bethi! Sure, you bickered but you also seemed to get advice from one another and talk together or giggle about boys - things I wanted but never really had with my own sis.