Once we hit a certain age and were all married with kids, the age difference didn't seem to be there anymore. EXCEPT for when Ty turned 30 and I called him to tell him Happy Birthday he reminded me that while he was on his way into the 30's I would soon be headed out! He still loves to tease and aggravate me. One thing has definitely changed. Now, even though he is still my younger brother, he takes care of me. He helped me with my air conditioning and freezer problems last week by calling and getting someone to come over. That is just one little example out of about a million!
He and my sister are my kids' godparents. That is something they both take very seriously. He has his hands full running the family business but still takes time with my kids. He knows they need that male influence around and he makes sure they have it. My kids LOVE him. They don't take for granted what he does for them.
It is the same way with my sister. My kids spend a lot of time at her house and she knows everything that is going on with them. This is so important if they had both parents, but me being a single mom it is invaluable to me the time and love they give to my kids. I do the same with theirs. I know I couldn't love them any more if they were mine, but I don't think I could know them any better either. Trust doesn't always come easy for me. I have learned the hard way that sometimes people aren't honest and have a hidden agenda. I don't have to worry about this with Amanda and Ty. I know if they tell me something I would rather not hear, it is for my, or my kids, own good. They would never tell me wrong on purpose. It is so hard raising kids, period, but it is especially hard these days being a single mom. I know there are times I am tired and may miss something. This is where they are a huge help. Hopefully, I return the favor with their kids.
Trust is such an important thing and I work really hard at making sure their kids know they can trust me. Even from the simplest, silly thing like if I tell them I will bring them something or help them with something. Whether or not it really matters is not the point. The point is I told them I would do something and I make good on my word. The little silly things now are hopefully building blocks of their trust in me so that when they get older they know they can always count on me. That is VERY important to me. I value my relationship, it is different although as much special, with each one of them.
We have such a good time when we get together. We are able to joke around with each other and just have fun. My sister and her husband are that very rare couple that have been together since childhood. There were off and on times and they were engaged at one time and broke it off and then eventually got back together. It is always a joke because we lose track of when Harrison was around and when he wasn't. I will think, y'all were on a break then, but he will say no I was there for that. Our family was very close to his family growing up. We spent a lot of time together. We went on vacations, spent holidays together, and have so, so many memories. Honestly, I don't remember not knowing Harrison. He feels like my brother instead of brother in law. It was funny, but when they got married, my dad did a toast at the rehearsal dinner. He said that he had always thought of Harrison as a son, so it was kind of like his kids were getting married. He went on to make a joke about having to go to Alabama to get married. He felt so bad afterwards, because he wasn't thinking that at the time, my uncle's girlfriend who was there was from Alabama.
My brother's wife, Bethany, is more like a sister than sister in law. She fits right in with us. Her family has known my family for years. Her mom, aunts, uncles knew my parents, aunts, uncles from school. It is funny, but her first cousin, Heather, is a friend of mine and we have known each other our whole lives. We played softball together and I remember one time when we were really young spending the night at Heather's and her aunt coming over. She had a little girl with her and I just remember how pretty the little girl was and all her long, dark curls! I now know that was Bethany and her mom Yvonne. It's funny that I had no idea that pretty little girl would grow up to be my sister in law.
Not only do my brother and sister help take care of my kids, but Harrison and Bethany are very protective of them also. Both of them have their own relationship with each of my kids and all three of them know they can depend on Harrison and Bethany. It is so hard being a single parent and it is even harder seeing what good relationships my sister and brother have with their spouses. My mom and dad have been together since they were teenagers and my grandparents have been together almost 60 years. As my dad says, that's a life sentence! It is neat though. My parents and my grandparents have been together most of their lives. Both my parents and grandparents have very few memories without the other spouse in them. That is what I am going to miss. I won't have someone who shared raising the kids, feels the sense of accomplishment of a home or any other thing that has been acquired through the years. Those are the things that I won't have any one to share them with and that is sad, but I will be okay because God has given me a wonderful family to be with me and share in so many memories. Looking back at the person and the last several years, it is hard to mourn or be sad over something that wasn't there all along. I have had to face the fact that the person I thought I was sharing those things with was not the person I thought all along. It is tough to realize several years were a lie, but then it makes me realize I didn't really lose anything. It wasn't there to begin with.
I am so glad my kids have these examples of healthy relationships. They see what marriage is supposed to be like and I am so grateful for that. My biggest fear is that things they have been through will impact their future relationships, but I really don't think that will happen with what they have around them. I always talk about my family, how much they mean to me, and how they are there for me, but I wanted to point out how much I depend on my brother and sister. I think, the best gift I could have given my kids is each other. No one else will truly know what they went through, but they will always have each other and will have a closeness that can't be broken.
Me and my sweet brother, Ty, holding Sadie and Ella.
(Sorry it is a little cloudy.)
My BEAUTIFUL (inside AND out) sister, Amanda.
(And yes, that would be the famous "Sadie look!")
No matter what,
Through Thick or thin,
Brothers and Sisters
Til the bitter end!