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  • Marya Kazmi

Three Men & A Baby

At thirty-seven I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child. It had been eleven years since my last  pregnancy. After the initial shock of hitting the restart button of parenthood wore off, the next thought circling in my mind was this baby will be so much younger then my grown boys who were 16, 14 and 11 at the time. How would this dynamic work? The things I anticipated would be my concerns were nowhere close to what I needed to worry about with a girl entering our lives. At the same I could never imagine the relationship that evolved between these three and their baby sister. Seven years later, I am looking at three men and a little lady who couldn’t imagine life any differently with each other. 

Let me preface this by laying the context of my children’s relationships. They have not always been encouraged to be close or take care and protect each other. I wanted that for them and attempted to foster their love and to take care of each other. But my efforts towards this were always countered with opposing messages in the home and intentional efforts to create competition and jealousy of one another. This did not lead to a strong brotherly bond. It wasn’t until my older two boys were in their early twenties that they saw each other as family to protect and support.

However, the moment Kaiya, their baby sister, entered the world they knew how to love and care for her. They were teenage boys changing diapers, feeding her meals, and on their hands and knees on the floor as they demonstrated how she could roll over. They adored her from the start, and I believed I had this beautiful life of a happy home with my 4 children. She made me forget the reality of living with her father for a moment. Then as it always did, the moment wore off and the reality bit back with a vengeance. 

When she was sixteen months old, I knew that it was time for me to end the marriage and find peace in a new life. She was twenty-two months old when I separated from him and took all four children with me to live in a new city closer to my support system of family and work. Needless to say this was a lot for everyone to process. The first three years were painful and eroded trust between all of us in some ways. We struggled to stay close and build real relationships with each other including the children with each other. Yet still, the laughter and silliness of a 2 year old who had a hilarious way of talking and tried to be the boss of everyone, brought the boys back to just being my babies and the kids to being loving siblings who could pass the heartbreak and distrust for a few moments of laughter and connection. 

It has been almost 6 years since we left my married home. My boys are now 23, 21 and 18. Kaiya is this blossoming bright and energetic young lady. I now get to sit back and watch the way they spoil her when they go out and encourage her growth and bravery to try new things. Her relationship with each brother is a testament to how they have learned to be the type of men who protect the women in their lives despite what they were exposed to.

She knows when Bhaiya ( the name of my oldest. Majid) takes her out, she’s guaranteed to come home with some new clothes or toys. She is certain that when Tai Bhai, her second oldest brother. is hanging out with her there will be lots of giggles and friendly sibling ribbing, She can hold her own with these boys and her comebacks. When she is with Zaine Bhai, her third oldest brother. he will make sure she is provisioned for food, gets her work done and follows all the rules. His love language is acts of service and she has become accustomed to recognizing that form of his affection. They ask for updates on school, advise her on how to deal with little menacing boys and play around with her with jokes and teasing just to keep it real and her humbled. 

My home is the one where we love and play hard and enjoy life. These bonds and ridiculous antics have also been encouraged because I too am a kid at heart.  When the world shut down and no one felt safe to do traditional Halloween, we recreated it in our apartment. Tai and Zaine decorated the haunted themed doors and waited to distribute candy from the rooms. Kaiya got dressed up in her costume and trick-or-treated throughout our home while getting some spooky brotherly surprises along the way. 

For her fifth birthday they convinced her that to turn five she would have to wrestle a bear. Yeah, they are still annoying older brothers even as protectors. That’s the beauty of their dynamic.. They elaborately planned a surprise for her with costumes and she was challenged to duel the bear, gorilla and monsters. The smiles and the way they mess with her but also provide her genuine affection warms my heart. 

This year for a New Year's eve gift Tai wrapped her gift with endless amounts of duct tape and elaborate ways to make it nearly impossible to get through the packaging as a gag. She took on the task with pride and then as she was starting to hit a wall, Majid swept in and ripped apart the box with his bare hands to ease her frustration and speed up the process. She loved the challenge and the effort he put into taking the time to create an elaborate task for her. They are using ridiculous life moments to teach her resilience and perseverance while still keeping her grounded in the value of experiences over material things. 

They protect her and make special time for her in their grown up lives. This is the only home that she gets to see all three brothers in one space and they can gather together and be siblings.  She seeks the time and companionship of her brothers every other week when she comes to see me. They are her biggest cheerleaders and toughest security team. 

That happy home I desired with my four children exists in my life now. Seven years ago I could have never predicted this would be our path and where we stand today. We have been blessed and protected through a lot of turmoil. And truthfully the harm of that former life and recent times in their lives still sits in all our hearts and will take years to fully recover from. Still every other weekend my home has the sounds of all four siblings laughing, playing and joking with each other and my heart feels content and grateful. 

There are so many things I have questioned about my journey and decisions as a mother, but these three boys and Kaiya have proven how powerful the love of a brother can be to keep a girl feeling safe, loved and always know her value. She’ll be smarter than me in who she picks as the men in her life, because the real men who have been in her life treat her with respect and give her security so she can trust that who they say they will be aligns with who they are. 

The other day Tai said to me, “ I am going to miss everyone when I leave, but missing Kaiya is different. She is really the one that holds us all together.” That’s the truth. She is the little lady that humbles and teaches these men how to care for and fiercely protect a woman in their life. I am so proud of the men my boys have grown into and the way their relationship with their sister helps them to be even better as leaders in their lives.


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