A friend of ours called the other day to see if she could borrow our copy of Siblings Without Rivalry. Her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, it seems, is having some difficulties surrounding the arrival of her baby sister, now two months old.
“How long did it take Rowan to get over Isaac being born?” asked our friend.
I sighed. “I don’t think Rowan has got over Isaac being born,” I said, as gently as I could.
There was a small silence on the other end of the phone. “Ohhhh,” she said, after a moment.
It’s true that, a short while after Isaac was born, Rowan went a bit berserk — a couple of weeks of weepiness and regression that we attributed less to the arrival of his brother than to the chaos that arrival set in motion and the subsequent disruption of his own schedule: a round of visits from family and friends, a trip to Toronto, all of which coincided with his babysitter going on vacation. After the initial brouhaha settled down, so did he. Even finished the potty-training project we had all decided to put on hold.
But getting over Isaac? I’m guessing that’s a potentially decades-long project. Which doesn’t mean that Rowan doesn’t adore Isaac: just this morning, the two spent twenty-odd gleeful minutes together taking turns throwing the vintage Fisher Price push toy down the basement stairs. They wrestle, they dance, they sing, they cuddle, they hug and kiss goodnight. They play together independently upstairs while Rachel and I finish dinner.
But it is just as likely that Rowan will choose to bash Isaac over the head with the vintage Fisher Price push toy. Several times an hour, Rowan will charge at his brother like a belligerent goat, screeching, “Nananananananananaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” while Isaac shrieks in protest. There are serious sharing issues. And there is rarely a toy in Isaac’s hot little hands that Rowan doesn’t immediately, passionately, desperately need right now.
Rowan is not over Isaac.
But, isn’t that kind of the point? Rowan is not over Isaac, any more than Rachel and I are over either of them, any more than we’re over each other. Any more than Isaac is over any of us. We may be over — so over — that high school crush, that toxic friend, the ex with commitment issues, the Atkins diet.
But we are, the four of us, perpetually, just getting started.
Susan L. Goldberg
Susan L. Goldberg is an award-winning freelance writer, editor, blogger, and essayist.