What is the best gift parents can give their kids?
The answer is simple: siblings!
The Monday, December 2 Pajama Diaries comic strip rubbed me the wrong way. I waited a few days, hoping author, Terry Libenson, was going to run a another strip showcasing the pros of having a baby during a mother’s “Advanced Maternal Age,” but she didn’t.
It’s been a week and I’m still waiting.
Why does the media portray babies as burdens? When I was 42, my husband and I discovered I was “preggers” with twins. We already had seven children at home, and our youngest was eight. Of course we were a bit shocked to get the news, but feelings of excitement kicked in as quickly as my hormones. Our anticipation was contagious, in fact, many of our friends confided in us that they wished they would have had more children; that they were feeling sad about their fledgling chickadees and soon-to-be-empty nests.
During my pregnancy no one would have thought “Poor woman” for me, that’s for sure (except for my humongous twin belly!).
How is the world supposed to build a culture of life when the media makes pregnancy seem like a disease?
Our identical boys, born when I was nearly 43 and my husband 44, have been just the medicine we’ve needed. Sure we lost loads of sleep and our sofas are smeared with God-knows-what, but quite honestly, they are a hoot and a half (as Minnesotans say). Now that they are four, we have experienced many blessings “caboose babies” bring to their families. Here are a few examples:
Why every couple should have “Bonus Blessings”:
1. Unlike the comic strip shown above, the correct attitude should be “Lucky Kids!” not “Poor kids!” In all reality, children who welcome siblings into the home when they are pretty big themselves (through parents birthing them or adopting them) learn unconditional love better than anyone else! Last week I overheard one of our high school girls saying to her little brothers: “You’re my best friends!” She then chased them around the room and tickled them. Her friends love to come over and play with them, too. Does this sound like a kid who should be pitied?
2. The big brothers and sisters learn to be the “bestest” future parents! (My husband used to ring out his caboose sister’s poopey diapers in the toilet, and braid her hair when she got older. I know this is one reason he’s such a great hands-on dad!) Of course not all couples are able to have more than one baby. Our third son is dating an only child. Her parents were married in their mid forties and welcomed their miracle girl a year later. Kelly loves to be with not only our cabooses, but our other kids, too. She feels like they are her own siblings. She brings them hand-me-down clothes and home-made cookies. Our little ones are the “sugar” she craves; the siblings she never had, and they are teaching her how to be a super mom!
3. The old adage: “They keep you young” is spot on! My husband and I are pushing the double jogging stroller on runs when we could be lounging on a couch. We’re taking the tykes swimming when we could be sunbathing. We’re building snowmen when we could be inside sipping tea. We’re wrestling in the family room when we could be writing emails, and cleaning crumbs from the floor–on our knees–when we could have nearly spotless floors by now. Remember the saying: “Use ‘em or lose ‘em”?
4. We meet younger couples at the park, church, preschool and the neighborhood. My in-laws claim that this is one of the best perks of having kids later in life. I now know people who are about 15 years younger than I am who give me lessons on hip fashion, travel pointers and activity ideas. These tips help me to be a better mom to all our children. In return, I answer myriad parenting questions for these younger parents and give them encouragement. (With nine kids, we don’t have all of the answers…but we DO have some!)
5. What about the cabooses you may ask? Well, these bonus babies grow up secure in the fact that they are loved, because there are sooo many big people in the family who love them. Our oldest son was in college when the twins were born. When he is home for the summer and holidays, he can’t get enough of the twins. This weekend, he and his girlfriend took our twins and girls to see the animated movie “Frozen.” Why would he do this if he thought the cabooses were a cold burden?
6. As grown-ups, these bonus babies help take care of their parents. I don’t mean this is a burden…but is in fact, something quite beautiful. The adult cabooses I know bring their little children to visit Grandma and Grandpa when their older siblings might be busy hauling kids to high school and college events. They are able to do this because their lives are in a different place than their older brothers and sisters. My aunt had her mother live with them. I’m sure it wasn’t all a bed of roses, but her mother helped with babysitting and household chores, and she told the grandkids the best stories ever! My sister-in-law helps her parents with their computer needs–something with which her older siblings are not as talented. My friend used to do her mother’s hair and buy her clothes. These adult cabooses look at the time they spend with their parents with much fondness, I never hear them say, “Oh poor me!”
And one thing is for sure…parents of bonus babies are never lonely! Now, isn’t that bonus a terrific blessing?