Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

I am a math nerd at heart.

It only makes sense that one plus one will always equal two, and never, ever more.

The theory of “emergence,” in the fields of art, psychology, philosophy, religion, and all other things right-brain-lumpable, identifies the times when one plus one equals more than two…sometimes, even infinitely more than two.

That is, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

So anyway, I was talking to a friend the other day, recounting some of the hundreds of funny and/or sweet and/or touching and/or amazing things Bug has said and/or done recently, and after a few laughs and comments, he said, “Wow, his baby sister has a lot to live up to, doesn’t she?” (Yes, she does.)

My son is witty and smart and tender and good. He is everything I have spent a lifetime trying to live up to, and he’s only five years old. Sure, he has his moments (like today when, as a surprise, I bought him some animal-shaped rubber bands – they’re all the rage at school…think Pogs for this generation…and instead of saying “thank you,” he said he would have rather had the jungle animal ones…boo…) but he is so much more than anything I could have contributed. (Enter: The Theory of Emergence. Ah-ha! We’ve come full circle!)

I am really looking forward to watching how he’ll ease into the role of big brother. He is tremendous already, and I have high hopes for Bean with a role model like Bug.

When I consider Bean, and wonder about her and the dynamic of our family – the explosive love and affection already pulsating through each of us for her – I often stop and think how she will feel about us. And I know – I wholly know – that she will ridiculously adore her big brother Bug. (What little girl doesn’t worship her older, stronger, tougher, wiser, smellier big brother, for better or for worse?)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not under any illusions – there will be the screaming matches, the fighting words, the rolled eyes and biting remarks. There will be a time when Bug will find his razor ruined in the shower because Bean wanted to practice shaving her legs for the first time (guilty), or when Bean will wholeheartedly resent him for not driving her to the school dance or football game so as not to suffer the embarrassment of PARENTS…

There will be days tougher or tragic, irritating or forgettable, and on this side of things looking out, I can say with (relative) certainty that the end product will be nothing short of divine, that being a mother will exceed the heartache and worry and fatigue and frustration…that parenting cannot be reduced to merely the sum of each of these, but will be immeasurably more than its unlikely components…

I look forward to stepping aside and watching the bond develop between my two children.

I look forward to seeing the glint of fierce protection in Bug when a boy shows interest in his sister, or the subtle awe roll off Bean in waves when she watches her brother achieve. I look forward to bearing witness to the memories they will share under the same roof and hopefully relive in laughter and nostalgia, the mutual respect that will (eventually, I’m sure) grow between them, the identity they will cling to as our son, and our daughter…

I look forward to sitting in the front row of something I can only imagine will be glorious…


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