This week, my baby brother is getting married. When I say “baby” brother, it’s in the vein that most big sisters try to trap their younger siblings’ into a lapsed time and place. But to my credit, he is eight years my younger, making him the ripe old age of 20. In 1995, my parents finally gave into their eldest child’s consistent requests for a sibling, and six days after I turned 8, we welcomed my “bubba” into this world. Getting a sibling wasn’t quite what I had expected; after all, I was way into board games and American Girl dolls at that point, and none of the activities associated with those obsessions are fit for an infant or toddler’s participation. But hell, was I proud. There is a classic photo of me in my khaki corduroy pants and red waffle henley grinning from ear to ear pushing that 9lb 9oz tank of a baby down the hallway of the hospital – my mom being wheeled behind us, looking exhausted and astonished. (To her credit, birthing a 9lb 9oz human must do that to you.)
My last post, “Life Promises,” got me thinking about the piles of advice we offer loved ones and friends at various milestones in life – like marriage. My brother has several milestones ahead of him that, being an opinionated, oldest child, have me desperate to do a brain dump of advice. When he was a baby I was busy dispensing practical advice; “clean up your toys” (oh, the clean up song!), “the remote doesn’t have a motor so stop pretending it does”, “stop touching your…” Well, you know…boys are gross. I’m sure all those things set him up for success (right?!), or at least taught him how to (sort of) function in society.
As he prepares to be married and, in May, ship off to San Antonio for Air Force basic training, I have a much wider range of advice to offer; like, even when your family is far away, they’re always still there for you, and how making dinner for two people is really, really difficult and it’s okay to eat popcorn on lazy nights. But I don’t think I’ll waste my breath. Not because I don’t think it’s valuable knowledge or think he won’t listen to his big sister, but because those things are so fun to learn on your own. I’ve made some crazy mistakes along the way so far and a wise motivational speaker once shared this message about those flubs; mistakes are great moments. There is so much to be learned from doing things the “wrong” way. Let’s face it, when you flub, it’s easier to identify what you did to cause the problem or situation and you’re less likely to let it happen again; thus, a great moment.
So rather than offer a “life promise,” I think I’ll encourage my sweet baby brother to love (a lot!), face fears, try new things, and make lots and lots of mistakes. Okay…and maybe eat ice cream for breakfast with no shame.
– Ashley Respecki