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Oh boy. Well, really, it’s “oh boys,” because I have three of them. Yep, my household consists of me and my three incredibly wonderful, beautiful, talented and different boys! Almost forgot about the dog, he’s a boy, too. My house is typically the site of an impromptu living room soccer (football apparently, but since I’m not cool, I call it soccer) game, or a rock band jam, a pillow fort, movie theater, or doggy wrestling center! Those are the moments I cherish most, when even in the chaos, we are all in our space together and enjoying each others presence. It’s those other moments that cause me great stress and discomfort. When the name calling starts, and the under breath muttering that’s just loud enough for everyone to hear but quiet enough to deny having said anything really hurtful. All of that, on the way to one of the boys ultimately shoving, swinging, or smacking. That’s when I lose it. I’m usually all about sharing your feelings. I encourage it, even if you worry that your feelings might in fact be hurtful to someone else (“Can you please stop singing mom? My ears are bleeding.”) I draw the line at the physical, though. Please do not hit your brother, or your other brother. As I’m writing this, I am realizing that my aversion is partly my projection from a childhood lived in fear of my older brother punching me or giving me a “charlie horse” or “indian rug burn”, for example. My brother was two years older, so we were close enough in age that we could appreciate Dr. Demento late on Sunday nights, and share an affinity for classic rock. Those are the memories I go back to most when I think about him, and I am grateful for having them. My brother however, was bigger than me, so he could also have me running for safety with just a look. Sadly, my brother passed away about 11 years ago, and we hadn’t had a relationship for a good ten years before that (longer story for another time.) So when I look at my boys, all I want is for them to find a love and respect for each other that will carry them through the rough times and joyous times they are sure to experience. The struggle is trying to figure out how to make that happen, and as a parent this is one of those pathways they don’t really tell you about in the manual. When one of my kids says “my life is ruined because I have to live with him,” my heart breaks a little bit. In those moments, I try my best to validate the frustration and the anger, but I can’t help but share the bigger picture, my picture. My brother is gone, I tell them, and even through the bumps and the bruises, we still had “Fishheads”, and Pink Floyd. I can only hope that my boys will have the same.

My boys....together.

My boys….together.

Stay well.

Click on any of the Totems to the left to your calm-keeper today!