My brother and I have a weird, complicated relationship. In fact, I don't think anyone could understand our relationship unless they have an odd connection with their own sibling, otherwise one would assume we loathe one another. On the contrary, we have a very deep love that's often masked with complete and utter vitriol. Because, you know, siblings. But I did realize there are things only the best uncles do when their sister is having a baby, and my brother did them all.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, my "little" brother lived halfway across the world with his wife, so I didn't expect him to be there or stop what he was doing to call. But you know what? He did. Not an hour after I delivered my daughter, my mom handed me her cell phone so my big little brother could congratulate me on the birth of his niece.
Even a 14-hour time difference, and 10,000 miles between us, didn't keep my brother from this first official duty as an uncle. It meant a lot in the moment, and it still means a lot now. And my brother was just as supportive when my son was born, five years later. Even though I hadn't seen him for a couple years at that point, because he was busy working and traveling the globe, he was there for me. He made the time to tell me that my face was dumb (because that's what we do) and, of course, that he was so very, very proud of me.
With that in mind, here's some things only the best of the best uncles do when their totally amazing big sisters (you know, sisters like me) have a baby:
They Call/Visit To Quickly Mock & Congratulate You
A healthy sibling relationship always consists of a healthy mix of mockery and unassuming compliments. My brother and I often say "your face" as a retort to whatever the other has said. It's our way of saying "I love you" without actually having to say it.
So the best uncle is going to be there in person if he can, and call you if he can't, to congratulate you, tell you how proud of you he is, and definitely poke a little fun at you. What are brothers for, right?
They Brag About You & Your Baby
My brother didn't wait a second to tell the world (read: social media) that he had a niece. A great uncle is always eager to spread the word, and let everyone know that his fabulous sister is either expecting and/or rocked labor and delivery like a damn boss.
And, of course, they're not going to break the news until they have your explicit permission.
They Arrange Gifts
I don't remember if my little brother sent any gifts right after my babies were born, but when he came back to the states he personally took each of my kids shopping. In my opinion, that's better than sending some plant I'm going to ignore.
I've never been big on "things" but, instead, love sincere gestures. So when my brother knew I was having a baby, his enthusiasm and excitement were all the "gift" I need.
They Offer To Help
Again, when you have a sibling who lives far away it's not always reasonable to expect they'll be physically present during your pregnancy, labor, or delivery. I knew my brother wasn't going to physically be there for me when I was pregnant, but that didn't matter. When he reached out to me over, and over, and over again, to remind me that he was there and supportive, it felt like he was physically there, too.
This should be required of anyone who claims to love and support a pregnant woman, and a great uncle is going to let his sister know he has her back. Personally, I was terrified when I took my daughter home for the first time, so knowing my brother was a call away helped. Big time.
They Tell People To Back Off
My little brother used to be a United States Marine and, as a result, still has every bit of soldier in him. He's not afraid to tell people to back off, especially when they're causing those he loves stress.
I had undiagnosed postpartum depression (PPD) after my daughter was born, and when my brother came home for a visit, I was at a point where it was impossible for me to speak up and advocate for myself. Thankfully, my brother made sure the people around me knew they couldn't back to me. That's what the best uncles (and partners, friends, and other family members) do. They know what you need and make sure you get it.
They Take & Save All The Pictures
My brother has so many pictures of my kids, you would think they were his own. Only the best uncles take a billion pictures of their nieces and nephews to show off to everyone. Fact.
They Tell You Everything Will Be Ok
My brother and I rarely give one another compliments that aren't at least laced with some sort of joke. But here's the thing: we don't need to. I already know that my brother thinks the world of me, and he already knows I feel the same way about him.
And on those two beautiful occasions after I held my new babies in my arms, my brother — the one who calls me out on everything I've ever done or said — commended me. He offered me all the damn praise in the world. He told me he was proud of me. And in those moments, I remembered why I sort of like him sometimes, too. Besides, there's no other uncle like him in the world.
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