I held the tiny infant that was my nephew and reclined the rocker. I could feel the bones of his ribs as I cuddled him and he lifted his head to observe the surroundings. As my brothers and sisters made crazy faces and talked in baby voices to try and get him to smile, he stared at them in confusion, having not yet reached a point were he’d completely figured out how to smile on command.
Whenever Eli visited with his parents--my older brother Nathan and his wife, Jacqueline--there was always a line of eager aunts, uncles, and grandparents waiting to hold him. He received too much attention for any one baby. But he was loved. He was adored. And there wasn’t enough baby to go around.
As I enjoyed my Eli Time on the recliner, I remarked to my sister-in-law that he needed a little brother or sister to share the attention with. I’d experienced in a family of 7, that it’s always good to have a sibling around to share the attention, both negative and positive. “But,” I added for Eli’s future benefit. “When you do have a younger sister, try not to put handcuffs on her ankles and drag her down the stairs.”
Jacqueline chuckled. “Did Nathan do that to you?”
I confirmed that he had.
It was a long time ago, when Nathan and I were little. Back then I didn’t appreciate the goodness of shared attention. Understandably for an older brother, Nathan took the brunt of the negative attention. And, oldest daughter, do-gooder as I was, I took the brunt of the positive. Almost every single childhood memory was shared with Nathan. I find it a little peculiar how someone who shared so much of my childhood could be such a small part of my adulthood. Then again, maybe the fact that he was such a part of my childhood, also makes him a part of my adulthood. I wonder, as we grow and have our own families, how much our childhood memories will be a part of our future.
That brings me back to Eli. Eli makes me think about having my own kids some day. I see how much of an impact my childhood has had on my adulthood, and wonder what kind of childhood my kids will have. I wonder what kind of parent I will be. I wonder how many kids will share the negative and positive attention with each other.
It’s strange to think that the ones who were once children are having children of their own. Not to be too mythological, but that circle of life thing is happening. And it happens again and again.
There will always be a new baby to indulge. New life will always be born. It’s exciting and gives me hope. It’s also a little weird.
I’m glad life didn’t end at childhood. I’m glad there is still so much of life yet to be lived and so many weird and exciting things left to experience.
A little nephew is just the beginning.