I was about to turn 14 when my mom announced to us that she was pregnant. My first thought was, "Please, oh please, be a boy." I already had two sisters and had always wanted an older brother. This was as close as I was going to get. During her mid-pregnancy ultrasound it was clear, she was having her very first boy. We could not have been more excited.
Nine-ish months later my brother was born via cesarean. My mother’s only son was too stubborn to be turned and stayed breech for the entirety of her pregnancy and labor. He stayed put when the doctor did everything in his power to convince him otherwise. In his defense, he was born with his umbilical cord securely wrapped around his adorably chubby belly. Firmly buckled in. Even before birth he knew that he was in for one heck of a ride.
Due to some sort of miscommunication or mean spiritedness, my post-operative mother didn’t get to have her new son in her room with her. So, every afternoon when the clock struck 2:20, I would bolt out of my school and speedwalk to the birthing center. I would breeze past the nurses station and head straight for the nursery. I dropped every ounce of teenage angst and rebellion. My tiny charge awaited. I would smile and coo at this brand new person as I wheeled him in his plastic nest to our mom.
The moment I saw him I was smitten. He looked like a tiny pink teddy bear with a head full of fuzzy hair. Watching my mother snuggle and hold this brand new baby made me realize that some day, I had to have a family. I loved sitting in the rocking chair in the corner of her room, holding him. Telling him about my day at school. About my friends, my favorite music, what I had for lunch. Everything. I wanted him to know everything he could about me.
He became my tiny buddy. After school I would take him into my room and play music for him. He would happily bounce in his chair or roll around while I told him about my day. He became my primary subject of a budding passion for photography. When he would drift off to sleep, I would quietly sit down and draw him. I completely adored my new little brother.
He was only 2-and-a-half years old when I moved out of my parents house. I was 18 and about to graduate high school. There were four kids living under one roof. We were all trying to navigate the rough seas of adolescence. I moved out. It was what needed to happen at that time, however, it was not easy. I no longer had my tiny buddy to scoop up after school every day. He lived in the next town over and I didn’t have a car. As he grew up, we grew apart.
Somehow, 2 became 6. Then 6 turned into 12. Next thing I knew I was sitting with my husband and daughter at my little brother’s high school graduation. As they called his name and my 18 year old, 6-foot, 2-inch brother walked up to get his diploma all I could see was a tow headed, chubby toddler running towards me with arms outstretched yelling, "Welwy!"
Nothing may completely prepare you for having your own child but I owe so much of who I am as a mother to my brother. Being so much older, I understood. I was able to help. I was able to learn. Taking care of him gave me confidence when my own daughter was born, 16 years later, in the very same birthing center.
The most common thing I heard as a new parent was, "It goes so fast." I would smile and nod knowingly. I have witnessed first hand how childhood flies by at breakneck speeds. My daughter is now the same age my brother was when I moved out and he is now 19. He is an adult, facing adult choices, trying to find his path. He is grown up. And it happened in the blink of an eye.
Happy birthday, brother. You will always be my tiny buddy.
Michelle Stephens is a wife, mom to a toddler, photographer, writer, the most outgoing shy person you will ever meet and a super hero in her head. She blogs at www.JuiceboxConfession.com and is a weekly contributor on www.LiteraryTraces.com Email her at JuiceboxConfession@gmail.com Follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/JuiceboxConfession.