One recent morning, like most mornings, I found myself carrying Matthew from my car, into daycare and up two flights of stairs. It’s not something I have really thought about before, it’s just something I have done. For some reason, it struck me what I was doing, and that it suddenly seemed a bit strange.
At Matthew’s age, Benjamin always walked himself in to school. Actually, since Ben was two, he walked himself into school (with me holding his hand, of course) because I had to carry baby Matthew. Benjamin has been doing a lot of things on his own for a long time, as the older brother. He dresses himself, gets his own snacks, puts on his own shoes, etc. And he is so good about it. Benjamin has started helping with the cleaning around the house and will help with other stuff.
Matthew, on the other hand, continues to act like he can’t do a lot of the stuff Ben could at four, and we let him get away with it, for the most part, until recently. I didn’t even really realize I was doing it…it just happened. We have begun forcing Matthew to do more on his own and even though it was a struggle at first, he is starting to respond really well.
The thing is, now, I find myself struggling with mixed emotions regarding Benjamin. I go from feeling like he has been a little robbed in this whole deal to just being very proud of him. And, I am proud of him. We seldom ever get complaints from him about things he has to do, and, in fact, he seems to take great joy in doing things on his own (as has Matthew, of late). I love that.
But, I can’t help but feel bad for him. I wonder if he was forced to grow up through the ages of 2-5 a little faster because he was the big boy. I really struggle with that emotion sometimes, even though there is really nothing we could have done. We have always gone out of our way to make him feel special and reward him for all he does, but I still can’t help these feelings…I just want to wrap him up and squeeze him until he pops.
At the end of the day, however, I am so proud of the big brother that he is…so sweet and caring about Matthew.