Happy Birthday Steve 2012

This is my brother Steve, today he turns forty-five. None of my siblings have birthdays so close together as Steve and me. We're almost exactly ten years apart.
The very best part of my older siblings growing up and getting married was the eventuality of their offspring. We, the younger part of the family, spent our time waiting for our nieces and nephews to show up at our house. They were the perk of our existence, we'd entertain them for hours (days) on end. We'd babysit them, spoil them and pretend they were our own.
But I always wondered, being at the tail end, who would do that for my children someday? Everyone would be married and multiplying with only snippets to share for my posterity.
Ah, but I was wrong.
I didn't understand the power of Uncle Stevie.
Every few months Uncle Stevie, entouraged about with his delightful family, shows up at our doorstep and stays with us for awhile. He is the male counterpart to Mary Poppins. For his entire stay, he'll dote on my children, teasing, wrestling, throwing, laughing at their silliness, making me feel like I gave birth to the most precious pack on earth.
One mention of Steve's impending arrival to our house sends the children to the window, hand shooting every car that drives by not containing their precious Uncle Stevie. And when he does arrive, my house explodes like fireworks on the Chinese New Year.
He's better than Santa, Stevie Claus.
And when he finds a little time, when the children have stopped using his muscled body as a monkey toy, he'll give me a neck and shoulder rub, work out the kinks motherhood has placed on my spine and ask me how I am doing. Really doing.
I always answer honestly, knowing the range of compassion Steve has found in living his own life with its wild ride of expectations and surprise. In these moments I remember to never lament my position in my family. In my youth I loved my nieces and nephews whole-hearted and with all my energy, but my heart never knew what it was like for their parents. I never offered them a Parent's Massage.
Mostly when I think about Steve though, the word "lucky" comes to mind. As in, I am lucky to have him, and so are my children.

We'll all can't wait to see you this weekend Stevie!

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