I was a surprise baby for my parents
My mom and dad were both 42 when I was born (technically, my dad was 10.5 being the leap year baby that he is). My brothers were 19 (Marty) and 21 (Mike) when I was born, Marty having just graduated from high school the month before I arrived. I’m not sure who it was harder on, my parents having to start over at their ripe old ages or my brothers who were faced with the irrefutable fact that their parents had sex. In either case, if it were me, I would have been horrified. Ultimately, I might be the only one in the scenario who was happy with the whole situation. That’s not to say that my parents or my brothers didn’t want me or made me feel unloved, quite the contrary, but I’m sure it wasn’t their ideal situation.
This picture of me at 9 months old has always cracked
me up because it looks like I only have one leg.
One of my favorite things about this story, was hearing my parents recount how they told my brothers they were expecting me. It was a Friday evening, at dinner before a football game. In response to the news, Marty left the table in disgust, saying they had ruined his evening. And Mike decided that he was definitely moving out (probably a good thing since he ended up marrying my SIL when I was only 9 months old). But once I was born, I won their hearts; Marty was certainly smitten by me and saw the opportunity to use me to attract women. Women love babies and those associated with them. Little did he know that carrying a picture of me in his wallet would cause his future wife to question whether or not he already had a child he’d left back in Michigan – with some convincing she finally believed he wasn’t someone’s baby daddy (or whatever they called it in the early 80s).
I never once was sad about being the surprise child – never even occurred to me that I was until I was much older. I thought having old(er) parents was normal until I had a friend whose grandmother was younger than my mom. Mike and his wife, Joan, had their first child when I was three so I always had a playmate growing up – I even thought of my nieces as bothersome younger siblings. I benefitted greatly from my parents being more experienced at parenthood plus at a different place in their lives work-wise and financially. We travelled a lot and went out to eat regularly – something my brothers didn’t do a lot of growing up.
It’s only now that I am a parent myself that I miss having grown up with a sibling that was close to my age. I have no idea what that experience is like and I think it’s left me ill-prepared to deal with the sibling squabbles that will come up between my two boys. I don’t think I’ve ever had a disagreement or fight with either of my brothers – it would have been ridiculous when I was a kid and they were in their 20s/30s. But I think that sibling fighting is also has the potential to bring siblings closer. They learn how to push each others buttons in a way that only someone who really knows them can do. And in that fighting, they’ll learn coping mechanisms for dealing with others and in the end will [hopefully] end up being each others’ biggest supporter. So while I love my brothers fiercely, I don’t completely know who they are and really, know my sister-in-laws equally as well because I’ve known them almost as long and in the same way.
I’ll leave you with this lovely gem from the 1979 church directory: