Here’s another little secret.
I’m a Rainbow Baby…
I guess in the *technical* sense of the word that’s not true. See, a Rainbow Baby is a child born after a miscarriage or stillbirth. My parents had a child a year before me, and he was carried to term, but he was born with no kidneys. Therefore, while he wasn’t necessarily still-born, (he lived for a few hours) he died the same day he was born. My mom intended to have her tubes tied after him. However, after losing him, my parents decided to have one more child…
And the world was graced (or cursed, depending on how you see it) with moi…
If he would have lived, and I would have been born anyway, (which both are kinda mutually exclusive in the whole "grand plan" of my parents) he would be the sibling the closest to me in age. See, I'm one of 7 living children. My mother had 2 children before she married my dad, then my brother was born and died, and then I came along. My older siblings are 12 and 8 years older than me. Shortly after that, my parents divorced and my dad had another little girl when I was 10. When my dad got remarried, I was almost 22. He had 3 more children with his current wife, (and thus they are old enough to be my children.) So I have virtually NO siblings close to me in age.
That little quick family tree was to give some perspective...
Considering “Rainbow baby” is fairly a new term, I am just now embracing that label after almost 40 years in this world. But today, I was thinking about the idea of being a Rainbow baby…
(Probably because I had a REALLY REALLY rough day, and my mind tends to turn to more melancholy subjects when that happens… See? I told you… I can’t trust that stupid brain of mine)
Life is hard. I’m sure we’ve all had that thought once or twice; or if you’re me like a few dozen times a day. It seems like you look around and despite all of the advancements of technology to make things easier, to make reaching out to other people more accessible, life just gets that much harder.
I mean, I had this conversation with someone over dinner earlier this month. The question was posed, “do kids have it better or worse now than we did?” That’s quite a hard question and very subjective, depending on who you ask. One argument was that kids have it worse now. With the advent of social media came the instantaneous ability to show and tell every little thing, both good and bad. However, the more negative and embarrassing moments now become a meme. I mean, back in my day, if you got into a fight and got beat up, only the people who witnessed it or someone they know would know about it. Now, it can end up on some comedy show full of clips of “hilarious” internet moments.
I agree with that sentiment to an extent. There is very little that can be escaped, and as internet speed increased, so did the scores of internet trolls. Bullying takes on a whole new meaning when you can be tormented by people who know you AND people who don’t know you equally. It doesn’t help that our parents did things like, tell us no, and made us walk home from school. They wouldn’t let us stay in and play video games all day during the summers, insisting we get out and DO something. We were a little more self-reliant than kids these days. Therefore, we also had to navigate how to be disappointed, how to be hurt, how to be angry, etc. I’m not saying we all did it in a healthy manner…but we did it. Our parents didn’t shield us; and therefore, ridicule, torment and pain were parts of daily life.
I sometimes think parents of kids these days want to shield their children from all of the hardships we faced and kind of overcorrected. Now torment isn’t taken as readily as we did AND it comes from both sources known and unknown.
I get why kids these days can snap.
However, one thing I brought up in the conversation: being gay back in my day was not NEARLY as “ok” as it is now. Being gay, alone, and picked on, was intolerable. Even my own parents had to evolve in their own acceptance of my sexuality. It wasn’t something you could just announce over dinner, and your parents give a loving smile and say, “We love you no matter what, dear.” I see videos of these children coming out, much younger than I thought possible, and I’m amazed and touched every time their story ends with acceptance, because that wasn’t my story.
So you know, there are both good and bad things….
(I hear you out there, “You started out talking about being a Rainbow baby, but now we’re on generational differences? FOCUS, BJ, FOCUS!!” Stick with me kids…)
When I think of my lost brother, I often wonder what kind of life he would have had. How would he have handled the things I handled, (or didn’t handle, depending on who you ask.) What would he think about the differences between being born in 1978 and now? What would his life be like? Would he be heterosexual or gay? Would he have a wife or a husband? What would his dreams be and would he have the guts to follow them? Would he handle the bullshit of this world far better than I do? (On a mental level.) Would he have been picked on as much as I was, or would he have had some form of self-esteem that would have acted as a barrier from the ridicule. How would he have handled the divorce of our parents? Would he have made the same friends I did as a child?
Would he feel pressured to be the “best” because he feels inadequate in another way? I mean, if he was straight, perhaps he wouldn’t have the internal need to go above and beyond the way I do. Would he feel like he’d have to prove himself worthy the way I do? Would he also suffer from depression the way I do? Would he find life as hard and sometimes intolerable as I do in my darkest moments? What would his eyes see when he looked into the mirror everyday? Someone to be proud of or someone who will never be good enough?
People often tell Rainbow children that we are blessings to our parents or that God intended for us to be here for some grand plan. But that would mean that God did NOT intend for the deceased sibling to be born, which is a painful thought, isn’t it? Sometimes it feels like there’s additional pressure to be successful or exemplary because you’re not just living your own life, but you have to make the sacrifice of your deceased sibling worth it. (I feel like on the surface that sounds bad, but if you think about it, you know what I mean.)
So, when I think about the how I grew up and today’s children now, I wonder if my older brother would be as cynical and jaded as I tend to be. Maybe he wouldn’t have a creative side? Perhaps he would, but his creations would be more whimsical.
I wish he was around sometimes... I would like to think I could call him on my rough days and he could commiserate with me. Or at least tell me...
"Sis, you're good... Believe me, I know where you came from, you really are okay..."
It would be nice...
Sometimes I think my big brother got the better end of the deal in this arrangement. He doesn't have to deal with this crazy world that seems to be going crazier as the days progress. He doesn't have to see how truly insane things have gotten.
But mostly, I hope that I live my life in a way that he would be proud of me... That's really what I hope, that he'd be proud of me.