My husband recently took our oldest son to his first Yankees game. They had to see Derek Jeter play in one of his final games! Since we live in Vermont, this meant two overnights at his cousins’ house in Connecticut. As they left for their adventure, I realized that this was the first time our family of four has split up. Don’t get me wrong, I have been away from my kids for overnights (not many though!). But this would be the first time that the brothers would be split up. Owen has never known life without his older brother. Yes, he gets time to himself when Jaxson is at school, but that’s a short period of time. This would be the first time he would sleep in his room alone. The first time he would have a bath alone. The first time he would have mom all to himself. I realized that this would be a really special time for me and Owen and I wanted to embrace it.
When you go from two children down to one, the dynamic completely changes. Owen is normally loud, trying to get his voice heard. He also plays off of Jaxson so much. They are like Pete and Repeat! Jaxson says something, Owen says the same thing, over and over again. Without Jaxson there, he was quiet. I mean, strangely quiet! In the car, usually both boys are shouting over each other. Without Jaxson in the car, Owen just started chatting.
“Mommy, I have to tell you something.”
“What’s that buddy?”
“I see cows, and trees, and poop.”
Laughs hysterically. (I must mention my children are in the middle the potty talk phase. It’s so annoying and we are working on stopping it, but so far, everything is poop.)
Then he proceeded to just ramble on and on. Starting every sentence the same, “Mommy, I have to tell you something.” I hear him say this all the time but today I heard it differently. Now, it was loud and clear and super cute. As well as a little heart wrenching. Have I ignored him to the point that every sentence has to start with a plea to listen? It’s hard when two boys are fighting for your attention and sad but true, often the loudest voice gets heard first. I turned down the radio and quickly flashed him a smile. “Go ahead buddy. What do you have to tell me? I’m listening.”
We spent time reading books, and he got to choose all of them. We got to read them at his pace, which involves pointing to every picture on the page and saying every word. “Horse, barn, cow likes to moo, birdie in the tree.”
Bath time was especially interesting. Owen has always had a playmate in the tub and he has always been relegated to the back of the tub. Jaxson insists on sitting right by the spout. Owen got in the tub and went to the back but then realized, he could take the front! He sprawled out and loved it. Floating in the bubbles, we talked and sang a few songs. He played with his cars. I remember the leisurely baths that I used to give Jaxson before Owen was born. I loved those times and I loved that I was getting this time with Owen. He deserved to have this quality of time with mom. And I deserved this quality time with him.
Bedtime typically goes rather smoothly in our house. The first night though, Owen howled when I closed the door. “No mommy, I don’t want to go to bed.”
He was exhausted and practically half asleep during this protest, but what he was really upset about was being in his room alone. He has always had his brother to fall asleep with. They have been sharing a room since he was 6 months old, and before that he had me to sleep next to. I laid down and cuddled with him until he fell asleep and then got myself ready for bed. I realized that I too haven’t spent many nights alone in my bed since having children, so when he came into my bed to snuggle in the middle of the night, I welcomed him with open arms. I know one day he’ll stop coming in for a snuggle, so I got to take them when I can. Plus, a king size bed is really too big for just one person!
This time really made me realize how important it is for both my husband and I to spend one on one time with each son. They feel how different you parent and they feel how special they are to you. You build a stronger connection and their confidence soars. It is hard to do with busy lives, working parents and all the obligations we have. But carving out the time is worth it. Even if it is just a special trip to the dump with Daddy, or running an errand with Mommy. The amount of time doesn’t matter as much as the quality of the time.
I loved my special time with Owen. I loved how I got to see the sweet little boy that he is, when his brother isn’t stealing his toys or sitting on his head, and he isn’t shouting or crying. I know he loved the extra attention, but he also constantly asked when Jaxson would be home. The time apart made it so clear how wonderful it is to have a sibling. Of course they fight, but they also play really well with each other. They are truly best friends. They have such a bond and I am so proud of this connection that they have. I know they will forever be there for each other. They also gain so much from having each other. That is the gift of a sibling. A friend for life. One that knows you inside and out, and still loves you!
Owen and I really enjoyed our time, but when Jaxson and Daddy walked in the door, we were elated! The boys fell quickly back into their roles, Jaxson wanted to show Owen the cool things he got and tell him all about the Yankees. Owen wanted to hold Jaxson’s new baseball bat but Jaxson wasn’t ready to let it go just yet. So the first fight ensued. Owen’s lungs again erupted in a scream I hadn’t heard in days, and tears poured down both cheeks. The fight was quickly squashed, tears wiped, and normalcy returned. I was back to handling two boys and I couldn’t have been happier. Now to plan my special time with Jaxson and Owen’s special time with Daddy!