I think Boy 2 grew last night while I was asleep. This morning, I accidentally put Boy 1's shirt on him and didn't even notice until I picked him up from daycare this evening. All day long, he was sporting the "Big Brother" shirt like a rock-star who needs a new haircut.
Boy 2 is different than we are. My husband and I are both oldest siblings, so we rolled with Boy 1 like it was the only way to go about in the world. Three anxious, structured, cautious, reliable, firstborn peas in a pod. Then came Boy #2: an enigma wrapped in a mystery. He smiles just for fun. He tries to jump, falls over, laughs, and does it all over again. He will talk and talk his baby talk, and we all stare at him and try to figure out what he thinks he is saying. We are like three scientists working to discover the characteristics of an alien species. We want to identify, label, and categorize; he wants to put marti-gras beads on the cat.
Unquestionably, Boy 2 was born into a different family than was Boy 1. In 2010, I was still in my twenties, and neither my husband nor I had never really lived without adult financial support. I actually think the first piece of furniture I ever bought that did not come from IKEA was a couch that came into my life while I was pregnant the first time. We were young; we were amateurs. We had no idea.
Boy 1 threw me off the cliff of childhood I had clung to before he came into the world. I quit smoking, began to exercise, and quit my job. I stayed home and poured attention over him like a torrent. He thrived, but then my husband lost his job.
It is more than difficult to find work teaching in October. School districts hire in the spring and summer, so there were slim pickings when we found out his contract would not be renewed. We were devastated.
For the next six months, we lived off of the mercy of my father not charging us very much for rent and my doing any job I could find. I drove kids to school with Boy 1 in the car-seat; I tutored strange hours when my husband was home; I squeezed myself so tightly it seemed I would snap. We were drifting. We were lonely. We were scared. We were broke.
Boy 1 got to live through all of this. He absorbed our stress into his tiny pores. He came to see things as we did; he learned to be careful and cautious. He is us, and we are him. Peas in a pod.
Five years later, my husband has a better job then he had before, and so do I. We are comfortable and confident and just plain older. Boy 2 may not get to spend as much time with me as Boy 1 did, but the time he spends with me is better, because I am better. He was born into a different family that Boy 1 was, a different family that just happens to have the same people in it.
So now, as I ponder the future, I wonder if my baby will grow into a charming, agreeable, popular young man; an artistic, empathetic, and occasionally impatient adult. But what I hope for him, above all else, is that he will feel seen and loved in this world, and that he doesn't (too often) ask his older brother for money.