I wanted a big family, but when it took a while for me to get pregnant at all, I gave up focusing on that idea and started praying for just one child. All I wanted was one child, and after I got her I swore I would never be ungrateful for her, and I don't think I have been. Before Blaise came along I prayed daily for more children "in God's perfect timing" and I meant it. Even if his timing meant never.
However. When we did get the amazing blessing of second child (after only eight cycles, and was I ever shocked) I could admit that it was really important to me to have more than one.
This shouldn't be surprising; I grew up as one of six children and had a blissfully happy childhood. Having sisters and brothers is a vital part of my life as an adult, too. Of course I want that for my own children.
At many moments during my childhood one or another of my siblings was my absolutely least favorite person in the entire world. But for most of the moments - and especially as I got older - they were the people I cared about most, the people I wanted to protect, the people who knew me and loved me better than any of my friends could.
I love the stories from my very young childhood about the interactions between my eighteen-months-younger sister and me. The way I sat on her belly and bounced up and down and my mother flew to rescue her... only to realize that she was laughing. The time I watched her crawling and said, "Branwen's eating the meadow flowers!"*
Moments like these:
And the only thing better than looking at pictures of us back then is looking at pictures of us now, seeing how far we've come and how much things stay the same even while they change.
(How did my parents get us to pose so angelically for pictures? That's what I want to know.)
The paths of Branwen's and my lives have run the closest together, as the pictures show. But all my siblings and I prop each other up as we go. They are an incredible gift to me.
When I had Camilla I knew that I wanted that gift for her, even as I was resigned to the fact that I didn't have the power to give it to her. That makes me all the more grateful that she got it.
It's been wonderful from the first time Camilla met her baby brother and immediately asked if she could hold him. And it just keeps getting better.
They play together now, which is just about the best thing ever, for obvious reasons. She says, "Blaisey, come look at this ball" and he toddles off after her, happy to obey.
Of course, five minutes later he bites her and she comes wailing to find me. (Unbelievably, she never retaliates, although I don't expect that will last forever.) But once I've administered sympathy and kisses - and occasionally band-aids, because he bites hard - she goes back to playing with her brother, generous with her time and effort and love.
This morning we woke up and the kids were playing on the bed and within about three minutes Blaise was trying to bite Camilla. He's teething like a maniac right now, four molars and two canines, so this is a common occurrence. But instead of freaking out, she pushed him away, laughing, and crawled off the bed. "Blaise, don't bite me! I'll go find you a toy you can chew on."
I know it won't always be this good, that at many times in the future they will fight like crazy and claim to abhor each other. Adding more siblings to the mix, as we hope to do, will only make it that much crazier. But I trust love, and I know that Camilla and Blaise will always have each other, and I believe this is a good thing.
*Name that gem of childhood poetry. (Robert Louis Stevenson)