Saturday, May 7, 2011

Phillip The Great

Recently, my brother Phillip came to visit and met his niece. It must have been particularly trippy for him since he remembers when I was born. Phillip is almost 8 full years older than me but we have always been closer than you'd expect for our age gap. Maybe because from as early as I can remember, I have always looked up to my brother. I wanted to be just like him. I've always considered myself so lucky to have such a fantastic brother. Sure, he hung my Cabbage Patch Kids from the ceiling fan and did the typical big brother torture tactics, usually involving the use of dirty socks, but whenever I was sick, hurt or sad, my brother was indeed Phillip The Great, just like his ridiculous magician costume he wore one Halloween. A photo that if I had it in my collection, I'd actually spare him from posting just because he's been there for me in so many ways throughout our lives.

My brother lives in Singapore so he's rather close to us. He offered to come visit right when the baby was born which made me feel tons better. It is difficult enough having a baby. To have one in a country that you don't particularly like living in where you don't understand much of the language and the culture is absurd, well, it's hard to endure. He'd been hoping to time his trip so that Raelynn would arrive while he was here. But she decided to come early. How I wished he'd been here while I was trapped in the hospital with my MIL. I know my brother would have done something to help me get some peace. But in a way this was nicer, since I'm much more mobile these days, hence we could have much more fun than we would sitting in a hospital. And my MIL was still coming each day to avoid being shamed. So I was at least able get away from her for a bit and vent to Phillip about everything.

A good big brother is one who not only listens but also offers advice in these situations. He understood why I was so annoyed and was also able to provide another perspective to everything. He reminded me that I might not like my MIL at this point, but she is my husband's mother. And he has the right to love her. I'd be a horrible wife if I stepped on that. Yet, my feelings are valid too. So somehow, we've got to find a middle ground between our two cultures. And just as my husband has the right to love her, so does my daughter. For their sake, I will try to compromise on some things. But when it comes to cleanliness, our parenting and Raelynn's safety, I think it is reasonable for me to stand my ground. I don't want another sleepless night at the hospital while my baby screams in pain after somehow consuming bacteria. Why oh why can't this woman be the kind of grandma that bakes cookies?

Yes, a visit from Phillip was just what I needed. I had a touch of the baby blues and my brother helped me cheer up a lot. Phillip makes everything less scary, unless he plays the low keys on the piano of course (ha!). Until a few days ago, I felt like a stranger in my own home because of my MIL. I now feel stronger and refreshed after his visit. Whether it be Raelynn's fussiness and wailing cries, strangers on the street coming up to me and trying to touch my baby or my husband's family and their culture, I feel better prepared and able to handle these things. Phillip brings out the best in me and I can never thank him enough for that.

But perhaps I had a hand in bringing out the best in him too. Watching him handle his niece was amazing. I got to watch him become very nervous the first time I handed Raelynn to him. And by the time we sent him on his way to the airport, he was a pro with her. So much so, that his intuition also saved the day as he helped us really listen to her cries and decode them better. It truly was amazing being able to share something so special with my brother. I'm honored to have such an amazing person for a brother, one who makes a wonderful uncle, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for us all. For now, I dry my tears from his departure on my husband's shoulder as we count down the days until mid-August when my parents will come meet my husband and the baby for the first time and when Phillip will bring his awesome girlfriend, Kimmy, back with him.
Phillip's first time holding little Raelynn...

And here he is holding her after a few days...

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