When I was pregnant (nearly a lifetime ago), my vision of motherhood was that of my happy brood sitting around the kitchen table playing board games. Afterward, we’d cuddle together reading bedtime stories before they’d drop off into a peaceful slumber, their arms around each other, their tiny hands grasping mine. I’d adore my perfect children, they’d adore me and of course, they’d adore each other.
To further ensure that our children became Best Friends Forever, their father and I elected to space them closely together. Somehow, as planned, my two sons were born exactly two years apart.
As far as my other envisioned plans for our happy little family? Well, if you ever want to make God laugh, just tell Him you have a plan.
My dreams of evenings playing Battleship and reading “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” soon made way for nights of drawing battle lines and screaming, “If you gave your brother a concussion…!”
By the time they were two and four, it was clear my dreams were just delusions. The only thing my two boys shared was a gene pool and a desire to irritate each other. Different interests, different personalities, different world views altogether. Blood may be thicker than water, but it doesn’t dictate that two siblings must like each other. Blood, in our house, only made the carpet impossible to clean.
My dreams became nightmares, especially as the two boys grew into teenagers. As much as I dreaded the daily antagonizing and bickering, the physical fights rendered me most hapless. As the youngest of three girls, I had little experience with testosterone-fueled brawls, except for all those boys fighting over me in junior high. (Oh, wait, that was just another unfulfilled fantasy.)
Extended family dinners were particularly horrific. Sure, when my mother and sisters began heading to Florida for Easter, they SAID they needed a break from Ohio’s slow-to-vanish winter. I knew what they truly hoped to escape.
I’m not sure when my sons finally called a truce. The transition was imperceptible, and the signs were bewildering. Somewhere around the time my oldest graduated from high school and the youngest turned sixteen, they began talking casually about sports. They started exchanging political views (similar ones, and my OWN, thank God). They began asking each other, “How’s school going?”
They started shaking hands instead of making fists.
Now, at nineteen and twenty-one, they suddenly and incomprehensibly are friends.
As their mother, I am warmed and heartened by this unexpected turn of events. My God, the days when they hated and fought and hated some more seemed to never, ever end. But the years? The years rushed by so quickly.
I only wish they were both here tonight, for the three of us to cuddle together in bed. I’d squeeze their hands and I’d read them “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”
That one always made us smile.
And I’m such a sucker for a happy ending.
Sherry Stanfa-Stanley is a communication director by day, a fiction writer and blogger by night. She is a new empty-nester, whose two sons somehow survived their sketchy upbringing. With both her boy animals grown, Sherry now tends a menagerie of cats, dogs and fish. She offers a weekly fare of insights and insanity at http://www.sherrystanfa-stanley.com/.