I can see it like it was yesterday.
The scene in the back seat of my truck. A screeching baby and a fidgety toddler.
It was dark and after a long drive to I-don’t-even-remember-where, we were nearing our home. Our home for the moment anyway.
The wails from the backseat can grate on the very last nerve you have left when you are sleep deprived and trying to relish all the parent-of-little-kids moments. And our nerves were shot.
I tried every trick up the mommy sleeve, but baby girl wasn’t going to fall for it anymore. She was plain mad, plain tired, plain done. Just like her parents.
The kicking legs of toddler boy against our seats was the only rhythm we could seem to find. Ker-chunk, Ker-chunk. Little legs kicking to remind us the journey wasn’t over yet. We faced the joys of bath and bedtime after the long trip. Our night wasn’t over yet.
My warrior and I stared into the distance, worn weary by our little charges. And who would have guessed such small packages can fill your heart and drain your body all at the same time? Onward we drove. Ker-chunk, Ker-chunk. And the wailing resumed.
I don’t remember where we were when I noticed. I don’t recall what pulled me from my mama trance. But suddenly it was quiet.
Oh, maybe they fell asleep!
I whispered to warrior Daddy.
I craned my neck trying to avoid eye contact. You know, eye contact is just asking for more,
Mommy, Mommy, Mommy…
That’s when I saw it. The snap shot burned to memory.
My toddler boy had taken his baby sister’s hand to calm her. Sucking away at his binky, he grinned from beneath the round blue plastic pacifier. His dimpled fingers clutched baby sister’s small hand as he turned his gaze to the window. And baby stopped crying.
I wish I had a photo of this moment, but it was long before iPhones were a glimmer in our moment capturing minds. I stared long at the small hands clutched together in comfort. And I think the best memories are the ones burned on our hearts. I rotated to the front and smiled in the peaceful silence. I was sure it would always be a little like this.
But time passes and babies grow. Big brothers find joy in tormenting little sisters, and siblings spar. Giggles and jabs turn to tears and anger before we can get to the kitchen. We watch as they grow and know that part of growing up is learning to battle, and find peace – under one roof. Part of growing up is standing our ground and finding new paths all at the same time. Part of growing up is growing close, then growing apart, and praying to God we find each other again. I have big brothers, too.
Through the sparing and battles with the ones who share our blood we find a new branch on this rapidly growing tree. A place to sit together a while. And sometimes Mom gets to watch.
It’s been ten years since that ride in the car and the paths have been winding. The sibling peace has intertwined with sibling feuds, and sometimes I’ve wondered if my boy would ever reach for his little sister’s hand again.
And then he did.
She had been crying. It’s not easy sometimes – this military life. Just when we feel at home, just when we fall in love, just when we find that perfect friend – it’s time to go again. And my girl misses her home. The one that feels more like home than this one. More than that, she misses her bestie. The one who lives states away. I suppose we all miss at least one good someone in our lives. Sometimes more. So, she cried.
And it doesn’t matter how many times Mama’s arms wrap around her neck, or how many times I whisper,
It will be ok. It will get better. I understand…
Sometimes it takes more than Mom. Or Dad.
She hunched her shoulders and drew her knees to cover her eyes. The shaking shoulders gave way to wracking sobs. And this is when a mother’s heart breaks. Because there is nothing I can do about it.
Baby sister, only sixteen months younger slipped over and touched her leg,
I know, sister. It’s hard sometimes.
Funny to hear those words from a ten-year-old. And I watched the scene unfold.
That’s when I saw his face. His eyes softened as he slid next to his not-so-baby-anymore sister,
Not another word came from his lips as he pulled my girl into his arms and squeezed.
And just like all those ten years ago. She stopped crying.
Because here is the thing. There is a bond between siblings that is stronger and deeper than we can put into words. These branches from the same roots – spreading to the skies before our very eyes.
When we look closely, we can see – the branches reaching for their freedom find each other and touch. Blown by the same winds of change.
Even when decades pass and we wonder if any roots remain; we dig our hands into the common soil and find our roots have only grown deeper and stronger with the trials.
1 Peter 3:8-9
Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.