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Thursday, 14 June 2012

Sibling love

I spent a lot of my pregnancy with number three feeling guilty. Number two was only six months old when I conceived and though it was planned, it still felt shocking.

As well as this, number one had only just turned three – only just adjusted to number two being around, and then suddenly I upset the apple cart again.

When number three first arrived, I was so busy breastfeeding, doing headcounts and changing nappies (all at the same time) that I did not notice the quiet alliegance being built between my babies.

Then one day seven-months sneezed. Twenty-three months froze in her play, raced to the kitchen to get a tissue, then oh so gently wiped her sister’s nose. On her way to the bin she stopped to check four’s nose was clean. At the gesture, four gave her a kiss.

This was not my doing. I have preached “share share share” at them when they snatch. I have told them to be quiet when one of the other ones are napping, but I never taught them this. I never taught them how to love each other. They did that all on their own.

When they have been apart for the morning and then are reunited, after the squeaks and squeals of welcome, a warm silence ascends. Hands meet. Eyes scan eyes like monkeys looking for nits. They mutter a language I do not understand. I did not teach.

If I’m honest, we had hoped for a boy – at least one time out of the three. When pink followed pink following pink, perfect as they were, already stealing chunks of my heart as they did, there was a small blue hole inside of me that split and cracked and bled.

I never stopped to consider the joy of three girls. The sisterhood I had created.

I never realised that families really do grow trees. Trees with roots than run forever underground while their leaves dance on the breeze. I, little acorn, have made something far bigger and stronger than myself.

It will live on after me, this tree – and in doing so, will give me peace in the knowledge that my children, my babies, my branches, will never be bare, never lonely, never alone.

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