Brotherly

I’ve always been drawn to unexpected things. And moments.

Unexpected things like miniature or giant versions of common, everyday items, still perfectly proportioned in their exaggerated sizes.

My sterling silver miniature abacus charm with moving parts, as big as my thumbnail. The gigantic bright green deck chair at a garden in New Jersey that can easily fit a family of six in one seat, making us mini ourselves.

Unexpected moments like when I walked in on a mother and daughter bickering at the acupuncturist’s waiting area about two decades ago. What’s so unexpected about that?

The mom was well into her 80s and the daughter in her 60s. Unexpected because I often think that certain moments are reserved for certain life stages and ages. Aren’t you then forced to graduate and evolve, having to behave the way grown or elderly folks OUGHT to behave?

I was fascinated.  So much so that I can still conjure up a cloudy visual of the daughter getting visibly upset at her octagenarian mama. It also taught me that people are people, no matter what the age. You don’t stop fighting with your parents just because you became a grandmother yourself.

Recently, at my friends’ gorgeous doljanchi (Korean first birthday bash) for their one year-old daughter, I collected another such moment. Even more than the decadent pink and gold decorations, including a candy bar holding perfectly pink rock candy and gold chocolate coins in exquisite apothecary jars, this moment replayed on my mental movie reel.

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My friend was holding his beautiful one-year old daughter, the star of the show. He was catching up with a few friends he hadn’t seen in a while, after moving to another state. While he was holding baby girl and chatting, laughing, his eldest brother suddenly swooped down on him with a bright smile and eyes so lively.

He fired off, “Hey, you’ve GOT to try this!” as he deposited a piece of gold-dusted peanut butter and jelly macaron into his “baby” brother’s mouth. Baby brother is now a 30-somethang doctor. Eldest brother, a pharmacist and dad to three. Baby bro opened his mouth wide, completely trusting his Hyung.

Our family drove home in the hail. In just one Saturday afternoon, NYC had provided snow, rain and hail as dramatic backdrop for the party.

As my firstborn played quietly by my feet and the other two boys napped in each others’ arms in our King bed, I kept replaying the brotherly moment in my head, smiling as if I held a juicy secret.

Why was I still savoring this seemingly ordinary moment?

When Eldest Bro swooped down eagerly to feed Baby Bro that delicious morsel, he was no longer this grown man with a receding hairline and fatherly responsibilities. And Baby Bro was no longer this physician, husband, father.

In that moment, they transported me to when my Micah was nearly three and Ellis nearly one. Ellis had just discovered Goldfish and Cheerios and other crunchy REAL snacks and Big Bro was more than delighted and eager to feed his baby bro. It was a whole new world as Baby had never been able to eat those foods before.

I would catch Baby sitting around in his turquoise Bumbo seat, mouth wide open, gurgling, accepting anything his big bro threw into his mouth. Brother could have thrown Legos into his mouth and he would have gladly accepted.

Upon further savoring of my friend’s brotherly exchange, I recalled another moment between my own brother and me when we were in the second and fifth grades. Our school bus transporting us to our gifted magnet school in an affluent area away from our home in Koreatown, Los Angeles was more than two hours late!

We didn’t know what to do. The adults at the bus stop were conferring. My brother was confused and scared. And hungry. I told him to go ahead and eat his packed lunch. He was still hungry.

So I fed him my own lunch. I watched him eat it while my stomach growled. But I felt so fulfilled as if I were eating the sandwich, too. I thought to myself, “This must be what it feels like to be a Mommy.”

I love these seemingly ordinary but magical moments that transport me back in time. So rich and unexpected.

Definitely experienced another Whoosh!

still feeding baby bird, er, bro at ages four and two

still feeding baby bird, er, bro at ages four and two

I Love You, Bros

Oof. Lots of pain. In the news. In friends’ lives. Just too much these past couple weeks.

In our own home, too, when Kevin and I just cannot communicate effectively or hear each other since we are fixated on getting heard and understood first. Built-up resentment. Disconnection.

I want to thank the two dudes who help me to pause. Drink in their juiciness, their innocence. Force my heavy heart to shift during those moments I gaze at them.

My boys.

You TWO. TOGETHER.

First of all, my Ellis. I have to confess that when I found out at your birth that you were, just as I had suspected, another boy, I thought you’d be Micah 2.0 and that it would be a case of, “Oh, I already have one of those at home!” Blessed but not as exciting.

Quite the contrary. You look nothing like your brother, for one. Although…you look exactly like my mom. You’ve shown yourself to be my first Ellis, my only Ellis. The roundest, cutest circle eyes like Puss in Boots and a comical pout. You are more anime than flesh and blood boy.

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I have a tendency to record my harried moments with you guys more than the perfectly delicious moments.

Thought I’d at least capture a couple brother moments with Micah nearly 3 1/2 and Ellis 1 1/2.

Oh, how you both love John Mayer’s “Heartbreak Warfare.” You both squeal with delight and throw yourselves on our bed, entranced while the CD has a few second delay before the track begins. Ellis even beams and says, “shhhhhh!!” before the song comes on, with his little pointer finger to his pouty mouth.

A few weeks ago, you guys were so quiet, which I thought could only be a bad thing but when I walked into our bedroom and saw you both sitting on our high, King-sized bed, in deep thought. You were studying on your own, Micah his Jesus Storybook Bible that he loves so much, and Ellis staring at his Story of Easter book, at the page with the Asian family singing at church. Oh, my little Korean Flanders boys. What a sight.

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At that moment, I wanted to pull out another sibling from my womb just to see him/her perched along with you two, on the big spacious bed. Who am I kidding? There have been plenty of other moments, too.

It warms my heart to see you guys as best friends already. Even as you run around with other little cuties at the playground, no one is your Boy, like only your Bro can be. You hug each other so tightly that you end up on the floor of our lobby, with passersby having to go around the small heap of Korean boys.

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You guys hug at least four times in the morning, as if Micah is going off to war instead of 2.5 hours of school.

“Bye, Baby! I’m going to miss you, Baby! I see you later with Mommy, OK?!”

I love that your second name is Baby. Actually, we hardly ever call you “Ellis.”

When I mentioned to Micah that Ellis cried at Mommy’s Women’s Bible Study meeting for the first time, Big Bro asked if it could have been because he missed his brother too much.

When Ellis accompanies me to pick up Micah from his school, Micah is so proud and announces, “This is my baby brother Eh-wiss!” as if the teachers and classmates hadn’t known that already.

I recently corrected Micah’s pronunciation of “Eh-wiss” but I do regret it now. Preschool speech need not be corrected in its unadulterated, adorably imperfect state.

You guys want to horse around so much that I paused mid-stroll to reconfigure the stroller seats so that you guys can face each other. Of course you guys promptly began to swat each other and kick, my two stooges.

You two imitate each other and yelp whenever you are reunited. Micah likes to do fake falls from his little scooter so Ellis started doing the same. Micah eggs Ellis on to say “Ahpuhdah!” (Korean for “it hurts!”) even though I ask him to at least give him a more positive message to mimic.

I never knew that brothers would bond this deeply and this early, while one is still a roly poly baby (at least in my mind). It is a type of cuteness that makes my teef itch.

I am blessed to be able to watch your moments daily. Feeds my soul though I do get crazed by all those spills.

I hug and kiss you guys about 77 times a day. Though Micah asks me, “Mommy, do you really love me?” almost everyday, I hope you do know that I am so very in love with you both.

Thank you for being my sons. You are my only Micah and my only Ellis. And I don’t mind one bit when you guys get obsessed with me because I know that I will yearn for these days soon enough.

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