The last few years have been a whirlwind. My head has sometimes been left spinning; we have moved continents with three boys, three and under at the time. Set up home and remained sufficiently organized despite the complete chaos to ensure everyone was where they were meant to be on most days.

Living in a primarily hockey town, the winters are filled with coffee catch-ups at the arena, so it was no surprise when my youngest declared his intention to play hockey like his school friends.

Fully aware that he had never held a hockey stick or slapped a puck, I put the gritty 6-year-old on the ice for his practice. While he could stand on his skates, he was noticeably uncomfortable with the added gear.

After an hour of practice on our drive home, I heard a voice from the back seat say, “I don’t think I am very good. Can I quit hockey?”

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The response was natural and swift, “What do we do, when are not very good at something?”

The long pause was deafening, and then he whispered, “We keep practicing until we get better.”

With that, his brother, who sometimes can be his archnemesis, sat beside him in the back seat, put his arm around him, and said, “We will keep practicing until you get better.”

The following day, his brother stayed true to his word, took his younger brother outside, and said, “Josh, don’t worry. We will keep practicing every evening until you get better or until it gets dark.”

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These boys often argue non-stop, they fight constantly, but it is clear there is a bond between brothers that cannot be broken. Although they taunt and tease one another, they are also the first ones there when the other is down on their luck. They are the loudest cheerleaders at a swim meet or soccer tournament. They are the first to give the other a hug when they see a tear running down a cheek. They keep each other’s secrets tighter than any safety deposit box.

In the busyness of parenting three boys, it can be so easy to miss the magical moments. However, when I stop to take a breather, I can see the great thing about a houseful of kids is that everyone pulls together when someone is struggling. One found the hockey sticks and the balls. The other sat on the pavement to cheer the other two on and encourage them to continue playing until it was too dark to keep going.

The boys know their brothers will be there to support them long after their parents are gone. They have learned the importance of grit and determination. It is so crucial to sit back and take in each moment as I watch these brothers create memories and solidify their brotherly bonds. These boys are perfectly imperfect, but together, they make our home whole.

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Andrea Clarke

Andrea Clarkemother of three boys, lawyer, Deputy Mayor of Kincardine—resides in a rural municipality where she lives with her husband and three boys. When Andrea is not running her practice or doing work as Deputy Mayor, she enjoys watching her children play sports and writing.

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