You know how every family has a “character”? The Younger Boy, also known as Philip, is definitely ours. Philip is kind-hearted, intelligent, perceptive, funny, and witty–especially for a six-year-old. This child has been our comic relief ever since he could talk. He’s also been a source of headaches and frustration, but above all, he’s a blessing.
Whereas The Older Boy taught me what parental love is, the first thing The Younger Boy taught me was how that same love can grow. When I was pregnant with Philip, I was truly afraid that I wouldn’t love my children in the same capacity. The love I felt for The Older Boy was so overwhelming, I just knew that nothing could match it. I was wrong. When Philip was born, the love I held did not divide, it multiplied. My children are unique in their own individual right; therefore, I love their unique traits.
I believe that all children are gifts from God, but this is especially true in the case of The Younger Boy. With all of the responsibilities that come with The Older Boy, life can get pretty serious in our house. At times, conversations seem to only rotate around doctor appointments, educational planning, money, and worries for the future. Enter Philip. The second thing The Younger Boy taught me was how to laugh. I’ve always had a pretty good sense of humor. I laugh often; I always have…so much that when I was younger, many teachers would label me a “giggle box.” Not only does Philip seem to share my love of laughter, but this child is hilarious! (I know, as his mother, I’m sure I’m biased. Keep reading, get to know him, and you can be the judge.) He is original, and his humor is intelligent. And, even though he sometimes purposely tries to be a clown, often he is unintentionally funny. He sees the world in a different light than most people, and he often shares these observations. We’ve coined many of his phrases “Phil-isms” and, after many people suggested I write them down, I’ve gained quite a little collection that I will share with you along the way.
When you have so many seemingly grave situations in your family, you tend to focus on the responsibilities. Life becomes a series of tasks, headaches, stresses, anxieties. You forget to slow down. You forget to laugh; you forget to play. The third thing The Younger Boy taught me was how to play. The Older Boy can play by himself; as a toddler, he was often content to sit alone, playing with his toy trains, cars, and trucks. Not The Younger Boy. Although there are many things he does alone, he likes to play with others. I am often begged to play a board game, listen to his latest make-believe story, work on a puzzle, or just sit with him to watch a movie. Because The Older Boy requires so much attention, I always made a conscious effort to give The Younger Boy the attention he deserves as well. This has always been a priority of mine; my hope is that both of my children know how much they’re loved.
So, even if I was in the middle of washing dishes, writing in my journal, or trying to rest, I would try to make time for Philip. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always stop what I’m doing to play with him. But, I do make sure that I set aside time for him after the task at hand is done. (This may seem wrong to some of you, but I don’t think children should be spoiled. If I am always available at his will, he will become selfish and lose consideration of my time and duties.) Learning to play again has been extremely therapeutic for me. It has lowered my stress levels quite a bit, reminded me of what’s important in life, and I form deeper connections to my boys through play. Plus, it’s definitely more fun to color a Sesame Street picture than to scrub a toilet.
Being a parent definitely has its ups and downs. Often, motherhood can teach you things about yourself that you’d rather not admit. The fourth thing The Younger Boy taught me was the hypocrisy of parenthood. The Younger Boy is a lot like me. He talks a lot, giggles in inappropriate places, at inappropriate times, and has an over active imagination. This is all fine and dandy when you’re at home. Not so much when you’re at school or church. When I was younger, I never got in trouble in school. I was a pretty good kid. But I liked to talk and didn’t have a whisper, which made for a deadly combination. So, even when there were 5 kids talking, I was the one that got caught…every time.
Philip will often come home with conduct marks due to his constant chatter. So often that he will get in the car and say, “Mom, I got a B today. Don’t ask why…it’s the usual.” I used to fuss at him constantly for this, until my mom ratted me out. (Can you believe that?!? I thought moms were supposed to stick together!) One day, when I literally had a headache from Philip’s incessant babble, Mom looked at me, grinned, and said, “Hmmmm…reminds me of a little girl I know.”
Ooooh, was that a maternal smack down???
Yes, yes it was. And, I’m actually glad she pointed out that he was like me, because next time he came home with a note about talking, I was able to honestly say, “Aw, I know it can be hard to be quiet in class. Things are really funny in school, huh? Well, I understand that, but you have to learn to control it. So, get rid of your ‘usual’ or you will be constantly punished.” See? Now I can fuss with compassion.
Of all of the things that Philip has taught me, one stands out above all of the rest. The fifth thing The Younger Boy taught me was to “Love Thyself.” I’ve always had a low self-esteem; I’ve always had issues with my own self worth. I would allow others to make me feel insignificant, and a cruel criticism from another would become my truth, my identity. As I’ve mentioned throughout this post, Philip and I are a lot alike. We share the same sense of humor, we have similar intellects, we both have active imaginations, we’re both creative, and we both talk (and giggle) a lot. Besides having many similar characteristics, we both actually like the same things. We both have a love of reading, writing (he actually keeps a little journal), art, puzzles, cooking, coloring, drawing, etc, etc, etc.
You get the point. We’re cut from the same cloth. The older he gets, the more of myself I see in him. I love him immensely. How can I hate myself, when I love him so much? I can’t. He has helped me see the good within myself. He has helped me see how unique I am, that I am precious in my own right. And, although I still struggle with my self worth, I can now see the good as well.
What a wonderful gift he has given me… I see the beauty in him, and it is a reflection of myself.