Ten years ago I received one of the greatest gifts imaginable. My brother and his wife finally had a child.
Being ahead of him in the kids department, I had an eight year old and a four year old. I was the one with the kids and he suddenly had all the answers. He was an expert on what I should be doing and how I should be raising my children. From making them finish their dinner to department store meltdowns he knew it all. How lucky was I?
"If that was my kid..." was his favorite quote. It was astonishing how much he knew about parenting considering he did not have a child of his own.
When my dad found out my brother was going to be a dad he called me and said "You don't need anything for Christmas this year because I have the perfect gift for you. Your brother is having a baby." He knew that once the baby arrived that all the heat I was taking from my brother would dissolve as he tried to manage the demands of parenthood.
I wish I could say I took the high road and didn't say I told you so, but I can't. I took every opportunity I could to give him "advice" and point out how I thought he should do it. I am ashamed to say that I took great joy in watching him struggle with all the chaos of parenting and even said "if that was my kid" a few times.
Over the years Tony and I have both grown older and wiser and my beautiful niece Taylor just turned ten. We have bonded over the fact that as parents we freely admit that we have no idea what we are doing. Like most parents we are just winging it and doing the best we can while trying to maintain a shred of sanity. But we are doing it together and knowing that we have each other is priceless.