The Light They Shine

They fight. My Buddha, do they fight.

These brothers. They are insanely competitive. So much so that we now only ever buy two of the exact same things for them. The Easter bunny brings identical baskets and Santa somehow always leaves nearly the exact same loot. Otherwise, it's just mayhem. Meltdowns. Tantrums. Arguments. Bloodcurdling screams. All over a damn hot wheel. It drives me insane, like I’m-going-to-shove-my-head-into-the-wall insane. It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I can start to feel my blood boil. I have to close my eyes and go into that tiny reserve of my brain that is only slotted for natural childbirth and fights over toys between siblings. It is my biggest pet peeve as a mom and it is the only thing that is guaranteed before my first cup of coffee.

But these drag out fights aren't just reserved for toys. That would be too easy. It also encompasses dinner seating arrangements, who gets to take a tubby first, who gets in the car first, who gets their book read first, and much much more. See where I'm going with this? It's everything. And it is crazy making.

We try to manage it. We've done everything. We've read the advice, changed our tone, followed the simplicity parenting book and completely minimized the few toys they have. Nothing has worked so far. We have assigned seating at dinner, assigned car doors for each boy to get in the car, we take turns with who gets to tubby first. And yet they fight. And they argue. And it drives me mental.

I remember one of many times that I've had to step in and stop a fight. I was trying to work. They were supposed to be napping. Instead, they're both on the same bed fighting over a toy. Not even a favorite toy, just a toy. I lost it. I had tears in my eyes. I yelled. Like loudly yelled. I told them that they are all they will ever have someday. There is nothing more important than this relationship and they're throwing it away over a toy car. I didn't come from a close nuclear family and I'll be damned if I was going to let my kids pass through childhood without the close relationships I always wanted. So when they fight, it's amplified a million times more in my mind. I start to imagine them as adults living on opposite ends of the world not speaking for years at a time. It kills me. I want them to have each other, to love and need each other. To be friends. To be close. To have the kind of close family love I always craved. I want them to be brothers.

And then, on nights like tonight, I see it. I see it in this photograph. In their closeness. In their laughter. And even though you can't see their faces, I know exactly what faces they were making at each other. In this photograph, I can see their love. I can see the light they shine only on each other. I can see the strength in their bond. That unbreakable bond.

It's there. I just have to trust in it.