People often ask me, regarding our blended family, how our collective boys get along together. The short answer is that they get along like brothers.
The long answer is much the same. Like brothers, they quarrel and bicker and jockey for the shotgun seat in the car. They get jealous and snarky. They borrow each other’s jackets and earphones and telephone chargers and forget to return them. They throw jabs and hurl insults (and other blunt objects). They all duck when they sense I’m about to ask somebody to take out the trash.
They fight over who gets the keys to their car and who gets stuck driving the mommy-mobile. They hide the preferred xBox controller from each other. Even though three of them are six feet tall or even taller, they push over each other like puppies, dashing around the house searching for Easter eggs.
They almost always refer to each other as “my brother,” even when they are introducing the brothers with the same name, as in “Hello, I’m Michael, and this is my brother Michael.” None of them even bother to explain this apparent maternal glitch any more.
They protect each other. They all want to know the name of the kid who the youngest brother was playing basketball with when he suffered his concussion. But I won’t tell. Their hearts all sink when they learn of a group project in which one brother’s partner forgot to bring his model, and then they share their own stories of botched group projects, late nights, and strategies for recovery. They go see the Fast & Furious together, and they watch How I Met Your Mother and YouTubes of silly cat commercials.
One of the boys in particular will consistently throw himself in front of the oncoming train that is Crazy-Mom-With-Her-Head-Spinning in an attempt to save his brothers. Another shares his strategy for derailing She-Who-Might-Start-Yelling, “If you make her laugh, she forgets why she’s mad.” They drive each other around, and they all drive me crazy. I am crazy about all of them. I could not be happier.
They admire and emulate each other. They are embarrassed by each other. They tease each other. They amuse each other. They argue about who will be the tallest, or the most successful, or who would make the best priest. They share secrets. They all know where I hide my stash of dark chocolate. They worry about each other. They take pride in each other’s accomplishments. They race. They compete. They shove each other and then pick each other up. They bring out the best — and worst — in each other.
They are each so different. Even the ones who are biologically related. Even the two with the same name. Even the two who share the same birthday. My husband and I are amused by the fact that the two who – at first blush – look most alike are not biologically related. And we marvel at the fact that the boy who is uncannily like Tim is not his biological son. Then again, we cannot quite explain how very much like me the drama king is, when I am not the woman who gave birth to him.
I have modified the following segment of Sunday’s weekly liturgy to suit our daily purposes and taped it to the front of our refrigerator (the refrigerator being the most heavily trafficked location in the house of boys):
“Lord, I am not worthy that you should have blessed me with so many brothers under my roof, but only say the word and our relationship will be healed.”
~ Revised Queen Charlotte Version
It is nearly six years now since the boys first met each other. Predictably, they were not sure about this whole Brady Bunch business. Nobody wanted to share his surviving parent with more brothers. Understandably, nobody wanted to compromise, or coordinate, or share a bedroom or the remote control. When I think about it, six years seems a relatively short time to reach this place where they love each other like brothers, even if on some days they don’t like each other much.
Brotherly love does not mean they never argue, it means they hear each other out, even when they disagree. Brotherly love does not mean they hold the same opinion, or goals or dreams, but it means understanding each other, or at least trying to. Brotherly love means showing up for graduations, and birthdays, and holidays. The boys do all these things. They share a special bond.
As a mother, I delight in that moment – no matter what has transpired the rest of the week – when the boys embrace each other and wish each other “Peace” at mass on Sundays, even if that looks like giving each other “peace noogies” in the process. It is the highlight of mass for me. That, and the silence.
On a really good day, it’s that moment when one of the boys makes another laugh and snort in church. Just like brothers will do.
Wishing you light and strength on your healing path. And brotherly love.