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The Brother in the Middle. #Imsorry

He was soft now, but he used to be wild.

Back before he moved to this new place, this new family, this new life.  Back when he was just a six year-old, with energy as untamed as his hair and freckles that danced happily across his face; but never touched the stitches in his chin from falling off the back of a bike, and the ones by his lip, for falling off a chair, and ones on his head, where a crazy lady hit him with a broom for sneaking into her yard.

His smile ran wide and mischievous, dashing through the streets of Brooklyn, without boundaries. Because it was home. Because it was safe. Because his parents were in the middle of a divorce and we were barely out of the free-living 70’s.

He had grandparents who’d walk over with a banana and a hug, and a block that watched over him with a smile.

But now he was in the suburbs with two step-brothers who sandwiched him on both ends – one a year older and one, two years younger. His new brothers, just as lost and scared as he, with the infiltration of two new siblings and a new mom in their home, space, lives; tossed him out, instead of taking him in. They were so young. We all were.

At eleven, I was the oldest and the only girl, finding my way in a dark new maze at the worst time in a young girl’s growing life.  Outside, was the jungle filled with mean girls and aggressive boys competing for dominance. Inside, where we  lived, was the lion’s den.

The union was not good from the beginning. The husband and wife struggled in their new marriage. The children struggled in their new family. But the fighting was still there, a constant, familiar background noise, with a stronger male lead.

We four little heads often lined the top of the stairs, listening to the voices below, filled with anger, mistrust and disappointment. It was when we were closest, sharing in the uncertainty, waiting for the end of them, of us. When the voices came too close, we scattered in fear, afraid to be caught snooping, even if they could probably be heard from across the street. We knew, getting caught would bring more anger instead of less.

I did nothing to help my brother or ease his transition, because as difficult as mine, or our new brothers was, his was worse.

From every hand, fingers pointed at him. 

So, he trudged through each day, slowly losing his spark.

This was not his home. Not a safe place.

The houses here were bigger and more spaced apart. The neighborhood kids, not so neighborly.

He gained some weight.

He lost his smile.

They called him Sloth.

He was soft now, but in a few years when he grew older, he would be wild again.

Back when he was wild, in a good way




About Ice Scream Mama

Mama to 3 boys, wife to Mr. Baseball and daughter of a sad man. I have a double scoop every day.

62 responses »

  1. Winnie Schindler

    the story was very emotional and it hurt to read, maybe its very thereaputic to some. but people move on, and have their own beautiful lives and families. (don’t know how to spell thereaputic.

    On Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 6:50 AM, Icescreammama

  2. I firmly believe that sometimes two families can be combined and make something great, but in reality it so rarely happens.

  3. Beautiful

  4. Is that your brother? He look like jack to me!

  5. Terrific post!
    You described something that sounds so familiar to me….
    Do you know that I feel relieved as I had unburden myself?
    Anyway , thank you for sharing this!

    • i don’t know if i’m happy you can relate, but i’m happy it made you feel a little lighter. sadly, i’ve got too much material down this road, but it’s a tricky one..

  6. oh this hurt my heart to read. divorce sucks. in so many ways. especially with children.

  7. This story was filled with pain, but so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this time in your life.

  8. I felt your sadness on reading this.

  9. I can’t say I know how you feel, because as an adult I am dealing with a father who just moved in with a woman with a nine year old. Different situation, but still issues with the transition. Thanks for sharing your story- it gave me another perspective.

    • blending families is not without it’s growing pains…but the children are always innocent. even if they’re difficult, they’ve just been placed in a whole new world, not of their choosing.. not easy for anyone.

  10. I too, felt a sort of catharsis after I was done reading this post. That moment, where you talk about listening to the fighting, I was right there with you on the steps. Reminds me of so many things from my own childhood.

  11. Divorce is so hard on children. The news is replete with statistics on the problems of children of divorced parents. But statistics don’t move people like you stores can.

  12. Joe’s right. Statistics can’t do what you just did here– make me think and feel and ache and step into your world for 500 words or so. Well do. Deep sadness there.

  13. I felt what you wrote and hope that my children are not experiencing the same but fear that they are. The divorce between us was that way but I know there are issues at home now with their new dynamic. It hit close to home – thank you for sharing. Its not easy but time does pass and life does move forward.

    • this is decades ago for me, and – amazingly – we all turned out okay. no sugar coating – it wasn’t easy, but you seem like a very present parent, and that makes all the difference.

      • Thank you. I am trying to be. I came from divorce and a not so easy life – still trying to gather that whole thing in my head still 15 years later! And thanks for not sugar coating it 🙂

      • i know. it’s hard moving forward, but the present is where it’s at.. it helps though, when other parties accept responsibility and you have a productive loving relationship.

  14. Very powerful and honest. I am hoping his story turnes out okay. I want to know — but then I don’t. I echo all the comments that your writing makes the statics come to life.

  15. Tragically the children pay dearly in these situations. And as you highlighted above in one of your comments, it takes a long time for the anger to go…

    Bravo for having the courage about the experience, take care! Baz

  16. So sad! What a lovely and haunting picture of the effect that divorce has on children. Glad he became wild again.

  17. Childhood and sibling-hood is difficult enough. Throw in divorce and blended families and it just gets tougher. This is a beautiful post, sad and touching.

  18. So sad. It’s hard enough to go through our own troubles, but then to feel we’ve let someone else down too… I’m sorry.

  19. nataliedeyoung

    This completely reminds me of my good friend growing up. She would tell me the stories of her blended family, which ultimately failed to blend. This is especially sad, when someone gets lost in the middle.

  20. Can I stop crying now? This is a beautiful, painful post. It is a wonder you turned out to be so wonderful. I love how you structured your writing and how you made me feel for all of you. xo

  21. Wow, I felt the tension, anxiety and sadness of this time in your life. Good job communicating something that is no doubt difficult to relive.

  22. Wow. That was an amazing piece. I want to go back in time and give your brother a hug. 😦

  23. This is one of my favorite posts. My upbringing did not resemble this in the slightest, but you made it so relate-able. We’ve all felt love and sympathy for our siblings being out of their element and losing some of their spark. I’m glad to hear he regained it. Wonderful post!

    • thank you so much. it’s painful to live thru and yet, looking back is almost more so, because when you’re in it, you’re in it. when you look back, you want to fix it.

  24. I not only felt your pain, but everyone’s pain. A heavy read, but a very very good one.

  25. This was so very good. I liked how you were both a part of the story but outside of it too. My heart broke for your brother.

  26. Hands down, my favorite post of yours ever. So sad, so beautiful. Congratulations on your Yeah Write jury prize! Well-deserved.

  27. Pingback: yeah write #105 weekly writing challenge winners: jury prize, crowd favorite, top row five and year three |yeah write

  28. Oh… This one hit me so hard. Maybe because my hubby doesn’t want to be married anymore and I fear for our kids like crazy. I don’t want them to hurt. Such sadness… Much love to you and your wild brother.

    • i’m so sorry. that is really really tough. but honestly, good, present, loving parents are what’s most important. as long as you put the kids first, they’ll be okay. really. it doesn’t have to be as it was for us at all. xoxo

  29. I’m sso sad for him..for all of you but he should have kept his spark.

  30. Deliberately Delicious

    What an emotional piece of writing. I’ve been divorced five years, and though I’d love a full-time, committed relationship, I’ve been afraid to go there because of my children. It’s hard for me to let go of that Momma Bear part of me, fiercely protective of my boys.

    • thank you. but don’t let that stop you. as long as your aware and present, and of course, they are open and positive and loving toward your children. it can be okay. but i so get mama bear.

  31. Pingback: Once upon a time | Icescreammama

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