My younger brother just had a baby! I didn’t think I would be as excited as I am because I have never been one to think that family trumps everything Because Blood. I am very fond of him though, and do feel bad occasionally, because I fucked off and left at 18, never to return, and he was left to deal with another four or five years of ridiculousness between my parents on his own.
When I left, he was 16/17 and a cheeky, slightly gobby, slightly arrogant boy. While I have been away he has worked his way up to near the top of his profession, held down a full time job since he was 17 and had a long term relationship with his first proper girlfriend, who he met at 16. Last Christmas, I watched them get engaged and, having been slightly annoyed that I had to drag my toddler on a 500 mile round trip to see it, was surprised to find myself tearing up at that. Shortly afterwards, they found out they were due their first child and shortly after that they bought their first house.
Although we definitely had our fights as children, as we’ve grown up he has always looked out for me. He dropped everything and made the journey up to North Wales to drive me and Child back down South when I needed to get down there urgently. He was there for the birth of Child (not actually in the room but very soon afterwards) and has made it for both his birthdays so far. He gives far more of himself to my mother than I will ever be willing or able to and is a much better son than I am daughter. He is far more forgiving than I have ever been able to be towards our parents and he is altogether funnier, sharper and more charming than I could ever hope to be.
It is hard for me to reconcile the lasting image of the perpetual teenager that I have of my younger brother with this professional, nearly married home owner. It is hard to shake off the image of him in my mind as the eternal younger sibling, all bowl-cut fringe and laughing eyes, but the evidence was very clearly set out in front of me when I received the pictures of the nursery him and his fiancé have put together. I cried. I’m welling up thinking about it now, because that is my little brother, now with his own little baby – flesh of my flesh a bit removed. My blood, my history, our future. Drawing the best (hopefully!) out of two families, his and hers, and making a new one.
I don’t know why I find it so emotional – I wasn’t this emotional about myself being pregnant! I think perhaps it’s because I can see that it is all working out so well for my brother. He and his wife to be have worked long and hard for years where their friends around them have had perhaps had legs up. His is a success story – the mixed race boy from the sink estate avoiding the pitfalls that captured so many of our peers. I’m well aware that I have nothing to do with his success, but I can’t help but feel proud of him, and I am so, so excited for the new baby. I’m excited to see him be a good father and a good partner and I am excited to start a relationship with a new child in a way that I haven’t experienced before – surely as an aunt I can have all of the fun with none of the nappy changes??
I got the text at 4.35am today, after having an inexplicably sleepless night. I cried happy tears all the way to work and have just booked a hotel so I can drive halfway with Child and get there nice and early tomorrow morning to meet my brand new niece, born on International Day of the Girl. What a wonderful day for the next generation of women to be born. My guess is that she will be as kind, hard working, funny and loyal as her parents.