Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Special Relationship

Chris and I put Ian and Mira to sleep each night with a bottle and some snuggling. One of us sits with a toddler in our bedroom, while the other uses the rocker in the kids' room. Ada likes to be upstairs while we do this, and more and more she wants to be in the room with one of us. This used to be a problem, as her presence made it hard for the babies to relax and fall asleep. These days it is easier for her to lounge on the bed next to where I sit cradling Ian in my arms. (We do have somewhat of a loosely enforced "no squirming" policy, however.)

Recently I sat on my bed with Ian as he drank his pre-bed bottle. Ada lay under the covers, peeking up periodically to see us and try to grab my attention. At some point she started singing Ian a lullaby of her own invention. Hearing her sing to him, Ian strained to sit up a little and smiled around his bottle. Ada was thrilled, and thus inspired she continued singing until the bottle was finished and Ian was ready for bed.

There was something in their reaction that made me think for the first time about the relationship that Ada and Ian will have one day. It isn't that I do not notice their interactions. Just today I laughed as Ada whipped Ian into a frenzied laughter, getting him to chase her and keeping close enough to hold his attention without making it too easy for him to grab her. He and Mira watch Ada like hawks, taking in her every move and mimicking her in so many ways. She is often the first person Ian and Mira asks about when they get up. It is clear that they love her, but now I saw a glimmer of the special relationship they will develop and thought how that relationship will have nothing to do with me or my relationship with either of them.

This realization came with the recognition that my children will have other relationships that will quickly eclipse the bonds they have with Chris and with me. It was an electric moment, because this hits at a big part of why I wanted to have more than one child. I wanted to give my children the opportunity to have this kind of relationship with a sibling, the kind I have with my sister.

It isn't that my parents are not important to me. On the contrary, I am quite close with my parents and have a full relationship with them that runs from chatting about how wonderful my children are to health policy "shop" talk. But my relationship with my sister, even when we are not a period of constant communication, is one of the most important in my life. She is my confidant, my entertainer, my adviser and my shoulder to cry on.

I know not all siblings have a close relationship, either as children or adults. And I know I can't engineer things how I want them for my children. But I do hope that Ada, Mira and Ian will be as lucky as I am and have close and lasting relationships with one another. It doesn't seem too much to ask.

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