I believe one of the greatest gifts I could ever give my children is a sibling. I am so fortunate to have two siblings myself, and I am thrilled that my little lad and lass will have each other in this crazy journey called life.
Having siblings can sometimes be difficult, as many of us know.
The rivalries, spats, jealousy, and other tough situations only siblings can truly understand can be taxing on a family. So, to set ourselves up for success, I've decided to make my children a promise.
I promise to help them have a strong relationship.
My husband and I always talk about how we are in "the thick of life", right now.
There's plenty of bills to pay and not enough money coming in.
If one of my children is sleeping, the other is crying. Of course, there are also the not so infrequent days when they're BOTH crying at night.
We haven't had a normal night's sleep in over three years, our house smells like baby poop because the diaper pail is full, OR it smells like cat poop because the litter needs to be cleaned.
Then there are the special instances where there's a sweet combination of both just wafting through my house like a marching band on an extremely long and smelly parade route. Yes, I was a band nerd for 8 years, and that is exactly what wet stinky old band uniforms smell like!
I could go on and on about the annoying things in my chaotic life, like how my husband and I haven't had a proper date in god knows how long, or that I feel like a failure in many aspects of being a good and righteous mother.
My kids watch more Little Einsteins than I care to admit, and the days are full of coffee til 5pm, and then wine til bedtime. This is ALL a reality.
Sometimes I want to break. Sometimes I want get in my car, put it in drive, and go west til I run out of gas. Then, catch the bus.
But I don't.
Because I have my family, and they are why I get up in the morning. The love I have for them, and the love their share with me, is how I'm able to deal with incessant crying, the biting, the constant drone of "Dragon Racing" from the How To Train Your Dragon 2 soundtrack bellowing throughout the cluttered halls of my destroyed house time after time after time after time.
You see, I wake up every morning and the first thing I see - besides my adorable husband with terrible morning breath and even worse bed-head - is a picture that he took of myself, my daughter, and my son right I gave birth to my daughter.
This picture, which is framed on my nightstand, is the shot of adrenaline I need to start my day.
There's something so visceral, sweet, innocent and honest about the vulnerability of my newborn, the curiosity of my toddler, the warmth I seem to be emanating, and the sheer luck that my husband had to capture this serendipitous moment.
It's me. It's my life. It's my love. It's my family.
This moment is bigger than me. It's bigger than my husband, or even my kids. It's the moment when all the roads led to our coexistence as a destined UNIT.
This picture that reminds me that my love goes beyond physical touch, metaphysical feeling, or theoretical contemplation. My love is electric - and it's conducted by the tactile relativity that's centered around my children and the man with whom I warmly and passionately created them.
We will ALWAYS have each other.
To get nerdy about it, in the words of Darth Vader - "Together, we can rule the Galaxy."
Now, will we create the Death Star, take out Alderaan, and scour the stars for the last living Jedi? Of course not. But we are going to tackle our very complicated, busy, fun filled lives together.
My children need to know about this kind of love.
They need to know that they are not whole without each other. They need to know that they are literally capable of doing WHATEVER they choose. They can even conquer the galaxy if they want. But they also need to know that it's the love from their parents, and the unique bond they share with each other, that will ground them.
And it's up to me to teach them.
I PROMISE NIGHTTIME RITUALS
Together, every night, they are read a few stories. Granted, my little lass is often crawling across the floor, looking for objects to put in her mouth (ah, the life of a nine month old) but we are still creating a tradition.
Every night, I ask my kids to give each other a hug and a kiss, and to wish each other a good night. Most of the time they just bump heads, and I need to hold down my infant's hands as my toddler goes to kiss her head good night, but it's still special.
I even continue these nighttime rituals at naptime. I think it's important to tell our nearest and dearest that we love them every night.
I PROMISE TO HELP COMFORT ONE ANOTHER IN TIMES OF PAIN
Kids get hurt on a daily, if not hourly basis. Tumbles, trips, scrapes, bumps and other various pain inflicting catastrophes take place all too often in the Larsen household. But no tear, whine or cry can defy the power of the kiss.
Boo boos - no problem. Kiss it better.
Feeling frustrated? No problem - hug it out!
And what's awesome about having siblings is that sometimes a hug from brother or sister gets the same job done as if I were to kiss a boo boo better.
I PROMISE TO BE REAL WITH THEM, BUT ALSO MAKE THEM FEEL SPECIAL
Even at a mere 9 months and 2 years, my children are drastically different. And I think it's wonderful! It's important to talk about their strengths, and not how one should be more like the other. We're human and that's greatest strength, but also our equally tumultuous downfall.
Tall Dad has an almost unhealthy obsession with the intent of trying to teach them the necessity of how to lose and that not everyone gets a trophy. He often quotes Rocky in that movie, Rocky Balboa (yes - sad, cliche, but apropos and unrelentingly cute)
"The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place, and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that! I'm always gonna love you, no matter what. No matter what happens. You're my son and you're my blood. You're the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain't gonna have a life."
Kids need to know that they are themselves. And they have our undying love. But they have to be honest with each other, with us, and most importantly, with themselves.
I PROMISE TO EDUCATE THEM ON HOW TO WORK THROUGH CONFLICT - AND NOT BE A REFEREE
Granted, my kids are a little young for this, but in a year or so I'm going to really try to help them work through their issues together.
I PROMISE TO REMIND THEM THAT THEY HAVE EACH OTHER FOREVER
As chaotic as life may seem with two children at such young ages, I also remind myself daily how incredible it is that they will never know life without one another.
They will have grown up always knowing a sibling, and that is so incredibly special.
I PROMISE TO FIND ACTIVITIES THEY CAN DO TOGETHER
Right now, that includes going for walks, playing with blocks, bubbles, listening to music, jumping either on a trampoline or jumparoo, and eating. Yes, eating. Haha! I know it sounds silly, but my kids honestly love eating at the same time. They make silly faces at each other, babble across the table at one another, and have this incredible toddler/infant conversation that I can't even begin to fathom.
I love it! and it's important for me to continue to find times and ways for the two children to be able to do the same activities.
I PROMISE TO MAKE TIME APART
And as much as it is important to do things together, I also know it's important for the children to be apart occasionally.
Right now, that is often during nap time. My daughter still naps in the morning, which gives my lad and I a solid hour and a half to ourselves. He has the run of the house, and often I take the baby monitor outside and he and I run around and giggle until we tire ourselves out.
I also get special one on one time with my infant during the evening, since she still wakes frequently to nurse during the night. Luckily, my toddler now sleeps (most of the time) through the night, so the nighttime is saved for my baby.
Here's a cute time I was able to share with my little lass while my toddler was napping:
Someone wants to try on my lipstick!
Posted by Tall Mom tiny baby on Saturday, March 26, 2016
And another video when I was able to spend some time coloring with my son :)
Having some fun coloring with my #larsenlad while our #larsenlass naps Any other How to Train Your Dragon fans out there?
Posted by Tall Mom tiny baby on Thursday, February 11, 2016
I PROMISE TO DO CHORES TOGETHER
As much as I wish we could play all the time, I realize that all of this fun sure does make a big mess.
So I'm trying to have my kids help do chores together. My son and I sing the clean up song whenever we pickup toys, and I often help the baby place toys away as well - so big brother can see that she is helping out.
Even something as simple as having my little lad throw away his sister's diapers is a huge step in teaching him responsibility. And, believe me when I tell you he's had his hands full with this chore recently because my little lass is on antibiotics (because he bit her and broke skin) and she is prone to getting awful diaper rash. So, we are changing her and using Pampers new "Premium Care" diaper often so as to help her teeny tiny super sensitive skinned touchey from becoming a giant rash.
(PS - I'm a huge fan of Pampers, and this new Premium Care Diapers [which you can find at Walmart or Walmart.com] -- are the top tier, and are hypoallergenic, have wetness indicators, breathable inside and out, and has extra absorb channels.)
I PROMISE TO UPHOLD AND CREATE FAMILY TRADITIONS
So far, we are doing "Breakfast with The Beatles" on the weekends, which is a big pancake breakfast made by Tall Dad while we listen to The Beatles.
We also have picnic movie nights, where we eat dinner on our family room floor and watch a movie together.
I'm excited to continue to create more special traditions like this with my kids, as some of the most simple things done with my family are some of my most fond memories.
I remember how we used to have dance party Saturday nights, where my mom, brother and I would turn up the oldies station on the radio and dance until our legs felt like jello.
Or, how we also had a pizza night - where we went to our favorite pizza joint as a family, and my parents gave my brother and I 4 quarters for the jukebox. My brother would play the ghostbusters theme four times in a row, and drive all of the regular friday night pizza patreons crazy for a good twenty minutes, but my brother and I thought it was the best song in the entire world!
These are just some of the promises I make to myself, to my husband, and to my children on a daily basis.
Trust me, no - life definitely "ain't sunshine and rainbows." It's easy to get caught up in details like why didn't my husband clean off the dinner table, or how my son refuses to stay on the potty for more than 5 seconds at a time, or how my daughter still keeps getting up every two hours. I often find myself bogged down by these little details.
But my children will know about these very important lessons because, like the picture that motivates me every morning, they will need them to navigate savage seas of life together even long after Tall Dad and I are gone.
It may be a little "pie-in-the-sky" to expect them to live their lives according to some credo I proposed when they were both 2 and 9 months. It may even be a little silly to expect them to have ANY understanding of what these things mean until they have children themselves - because I sure as heck didn't get it til then. Yes, it all may be silly. But that didn't stop Darth Vader from telling Luke, "together, we can rule the galaxy", right?
So why should it stop me?
What #MothersPromise did you make or would like to make for your kids?
Talk soon, friends!
This post was sponsored by Pampers Premium in partnership with Walmart & Acorn Influence. As always, all opinions are my own :)