Meredith C. Carroll: Meredith Pro Tem
August 16, 2011
My favorite part of vacation is always the night before it begins. As Julia Child once said, I savor the moment when anything is possible. (Of course, she was talking about eating a well-cooked chicken, but still.)
That’s also kind of how I’m feeling, as the countdown is on in earnest for the birth of my second baby. More specifically, I’m tingling with excitement about the possibilities that abound in the relationship between my two girls.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that part of me feels a bit sad for my older daughter that our exclusive time together is coming to an end. Me, on demand, day-in, day-out has been almost all she’s ever known, and we’ve both grown accustomed to it. As little patience as I have for her diva tantrums and shenanigans these days, when I’m not with her, I miss her. (Until I see her again, but still.)
I also feel a bit guilty knowing that my younger daughter will never get that kind of time with me. As several people have suggested somewhat ominously, I am anticipating my older daughter needing me more than my younger one will over the next few months as we adjust to our enlarged family. The baby and I will bond in our own way, for sure, but with twice the demand on my services, there’s no way she and I will greet nearly every hour in each other’s presence like her sister and I have been doing. Sure, it’s about quality, but quantity is no small thing, either, particularly when you’re talking about an itty-bitty baby.
But what I’m very much not feeling sad about is that my girls will have each other. When done correctly, it seems to me that there’s nothing like a sister to hold hands with and stroll through life together.
Of course there’s no small part of me that’s romanticizing the sister relationship and choosing to gloss over the fact that they’ll likely be at each other’s throats over clothes, hair accessories, dolls and the air we breathe as soon as the itty-bitty baby gets a little bigger and realizes that clothes, hair accessories, dolls and oxygen can be a commodity.
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“You think it’s great, but just wait until the moment one of them comes running into our room with tears streaming down her face, screaming, ‘She stole my bunny!'” my husband mused over dinner the other night. “And the other one will be wailing in the background, ‘But she hit me!'”
For some reason that prompted butterflies to flit around in my stomach: fighting just like real sisters – I love it.
But yes, my hope is that they’ll get along famously (and by famously, I definitely don’t mean like those twins who shacked up with Hugh Hefner a few years ago at the Playboy mansion and had tongues wagging about the extent of the sisters’ closeness, or Paris and Nicky Hilton, who, by all appearances, are out doing things regularly that seem dangerously like they could land them in jail or on a direct-to-DVD video, um, again).
Sure, I know plenty of people who grew up perfectly happy as only children or with brothers instead of sisters, or with sisters whom they hated. But I also know tons of women who grew up with sisters and experienced magical relationships.
My older daughter is saying and doing all the right things as we prepare to welcome the new baby. She’s itching to share her postage stamp-sized room (or so she thinks), and she’s talking incessantly about picking out her pajamas, giving her a bath and feeding her bananas. She sings joyfully into my belly button and buries her face in my stomach to give the baby kisses. She’s also chosen her sister’s Halloween costume already (as well as her own, of course) and keeps asking to go to her baby sister’s house, despite the fact that I keep telling her that this is her baby sister’s house.
You can’t make any two people like each other, and least of all sisters. My sister didn’t like me when we were growing up, and I strongly suspect there are still plenty of days when she continues to feel justified at rolling her eyes at me. But the fact that we have retained an unspoken closeness despite the fact that our parents are no longer threatening that everyone will go to bed without dessert if we don’t put our arms around each other and smile says a lot, I think.
I’ve been reading up a bit on the role parents should play in guiding their kids’ relationship with each other, but until the baby arrives, there’s no way to know how it will pan out.
Which is just another reason to think positively and savor the possibilities now before it all begins.
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