This post has been rattling around in my head for so many years I can’t even remember when I first wanted to write it. Possibly when MM was three and had stopped smacking Nano indiscriminately as he walked past him. This was after the slightly humourous habit he had of giving his ‘only just learnt to sit’ baby brother a gentle shove as he walked past, hence toppling him over, like a skittle. Humourous now, at the time, very very annoying. When we look at Social Media lives, the things that grate with us are more to do with us than anyone else and the thing that always bothers me are the super sweet Instagram posts that only mention the lovely side of siblings. It always made me wonder why it was only my children who would fight and argue and bicker, but I’ve come to realise that my children have perfectly normal, healthy sibling relationships.
Both the boys were two when a younger sibling arrived in their lives for the first time and they both reacted in very similar ways. Fascinated by the new arrival, keen to interact with them, occasionally beautifully affectionate, but mostly irritated by the time their new sibling took up, unable to really interact with them, confused about the new family dynamic and too young to recognise these feelings or react to them in any way, other than physically or acting out in a general way.
It’s extremely hard to be faced with the prospect of your baby getting a shove or a poke. We immediately go on the defensive when we feel our children are being threatened. It’s even harder when the person dolling out this behaviour is your, previously passive and adorable, toddler, who you also want to defend. Add to this that you are probably exhausted and that things always seem to explode when your baby is finally happy and content and you have your hands free for a moment, it’s no surprise that emotions run high for everyone, adults included.
I like to think that I was and am fairly relaxed about these sibling squabbles. I really did get why my two year old would want to hug his baby sibling in a manner that wasn’t really a hug. It wasn’t that their behaviour didn’t make me mad or exasperated and frustrated, but I always thought it was normal and that as they got older, it would change and be easier, until, of course, someone raised their eyebrow or I saw the Insta-life of someone declaring that their small children were devoted to one another. Then, I would question myself. Question whether we were doing the right thing by keeping our reactions low key and not making a huge fuss.
Fast forward a few years and it turns out I was right. Their behaviour was normal. The dynamics of having three children aged 6, 4 and 2 is actually really interesting and watching their relationships with each other wax and wane is fascinating. Mini Mck is pretty much devoted to the his sister. The almost five year age gap showed me a very different sibling relationship. He’s never physical with her, always amazingly patient with her and is able to express what upsets him pretty well. He understands that if he doesn’t want her to eat his sweets, or break his Lego he needs to get it out of her way. He is completely different to how he was when his brother was born.
The ones that are closer in age also have nice relationships, but they can be equally as challenging and difficult to navigate. Nano seems like great fun to his sister and they can enjoy the same things more easily, just as he also has things in common with his older brother, but in both of these relationships there is friction. Perfectly normal friction. There is jealously, frustration, occasional hitting, definitely shouting and lots and lots of laughter.
But here’s the truth about siblings, they FIGHT, they ARGUE and sometimes they hit. It’s horrible, but they learn to be better and here’s the other truth, it’s all NORMAL. Imagine having to live with the same people all the time. People that you didn’t choose to live with. I mean, let’s face it, living with people we have chosen to live with is hard enough. I love Mckdaddy with everything I have and yet sometimes he can be the most annoying person on the planet, but I am an adult (most of the time) and can recognise my emotions, take a step back and maybe spend some time away from him, or just take a breath. That’s not always possible when you are 6 or 4 or 2 or even older.
The thing that finally made me write this post was a little spate of new siblings in my blog and Instagram and some of the older siblings struggling to adjust, so this post is for all those Mamas living it at the moment. My message to you is: Don’t fret, give lots of cuddles to everyone and just know that this bit gets easier, at least it does for now.