All Kinda Firsts

So it’s a strange new season, I guess I’ve established that. And maybe it will be easier for me to move forward into the brave new old world of blogging if I focus on that. What happens is I try to think of the ways I did the things I’m “used to” and these days that doesn’t seem to happen too often.

For starters, Paul and I took an overnight trip this weekend and left the boys (all five of them!) home alone. That was a REAL MILESTONE. Of course Papa and Gramma live next door, so this helps. And this is one of those events that I think can only happen in a family when the stars align just so. It requires no one being too young (we sent Isabel to stay with my brother and sister-in-law) and everyone being in a good place “relationship wise” which is to say I’m not going to leave if there is a sibling unit currently hating on each other.

There is not.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

On that note, I’d like to offer a word of encouragement to those of you who have children that hate each other — this too shall pass. It won’t necessarily pass quietly or without your hard work, but at some point, with enough prayer and encouragement and reminders that they are Brothers For Life, these children of yours who fight constantly might one day really actually become friends.

When Charlie and Elliott were about seven and nine (on up to ten and twelve) they HATED EACH OTHER. I don’t like using that term because I don’t really encourage “hating” — we grew up with my mom telling us we could only hate “sin and the devil” and all other items needed to fall slightly below that.

So maybe we will stay one step below hatred and say deep, abiding loathment. That’s the sentiment that generally spewed between those two boys of mine. I thought it would never end, their agitation for each other.

And it broke my heart.

And then, one day, well something else broke. Whatever it was between them just stopped being a problem and literally overnight (maybe not, maybe it was gradual) they because teammates and then friends and then really, really good friends. And now, as crazy as it sounds, there is no brotherly bond in our family that I would say is stronger than theirs. Many others equally good, but none stronger.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

Don’t despair, dear mothers. Hear what I say.

And when I had a new friend share these words with me back when we were in the thick of this, I didn’t believe it would be true. Lori, who I met through our friend Fr. Tim, told me two of her boys suffered that same abiding agitation and one day they just got over it. She said they even had a season where some kind of dividing line of tape was placed in the boys’ room because things were so terrible.

When she shared that story, my boys were little and hers were college age and older. She had proof that you survive these things and lo and behold, now I do to.

Who’da thunk?


  1. Rachel,I love, love, love this post (and welcome back!)!! My sister and I are two days less than a year apart and we are polar opposites. To say we we fought growing up is an understatement! My mother always told us, “one day, you watch, you’ll be best friends”. And, we are!! Now, we tell her kids the same thing and they roll their eyes at us. But we, we know better!

  2. See, I love this post! I knew there was a groove out there for your writing! I would read more of this everyday!

  3. Thank you for this post! For all your posts, really. I am raising five young boys, so I truly appreciate hearing all you’ve learned on your journey. It gives me hope. :). Especially in this. Two of my boys are in the loathing phase. It’s encouraging to hear that they could grow up to be friends after all!

  4. Ahhhh Rachel! My husband and I were just talking last night about how we are so saddened to see the boys in our family (about to have boy #6) pick on the only girl. Whenever anybody hears about my lone daughter amongst all these boys, they say “Isn’t she so lucky to be well-protected by all her brothers!” and my husband and I just laugh and pray that one day it will be the case, but right now they can just be mean to her. They are such nice kids in every other area, but she can annoy them like nobody else. I just feel so badly for her. Anyway, it’s nice to hear that other big families have some sibling squabbles and they work themselves out. I’m thinking when she’s a teenager bringing home her teenage girl friends, they will suddenly start being a lot nicer to her 😉

  5. scotch meg says:

    The essence of sibling relations in my household at one point in time…
    Me: Why hit your sibling? If Child 1 teases you and you hit, you get in trouble! If Child 1 teases you and you tell me, Child 1 gets in trouble!
    Child 2: I can’t be a rat!
    Me: Who taught you that?
    Child 2: Child 1!
    I learned the hard way that I could not leave Child 1 and Child 2 at home alone together – for fear of Great Bodily Injury. Any other combination of children 3, 4, and/or 5 under the supervision of ONE of them, that was fine.
    This, too, passed. Suddenly, about a year before Child 1 graduated from high school, it evaporated. Ten years later, they are still friends. Child 1 critiques Child 2’s online dating profile. Child 2 supports Child 1’s career ambitions. They text frequently. Etc. Who’d’a thunk it.

  6. Karen Swenson says:

    Rachel, so glad you’re writing again. I can hear your voice as I read your words and I laugh out loud sometimes, and sometimes I cry. Please continue to use that gift God has given you, it encourages so many of us.❤

  7. So good to know- sometimes I just wonder if my kids will ever like each other….much less love each other!

    Don’t you find that going away is great–but what I call the “re-entry” is soooo hard? Sometimes it’s hard for me to be happy when I come back. Life just seems overwhelming at times, taking care of everyone’s needs, after having even a day or two of freedom to do as we please. But I would never trade that alone time- some of our best memories are of times we get to get away (which is pretty infrequent!)

  8. Evidently my comment wasn’t printed.

  9. “Who’dathunk?” Me and wife’s 52nd anniversary is arriving in a few months. Our girl and three boys sure kept us busy. Thanks to many Rosaries we,ve survived. I was retired from the Navy in 1971 including a tour in Korea and Viet Nam.