I'm not sure when it happened. I’m not sure when I gazed at my oldest child and wondered how she would eventually look back on her childhood.
Here we are wading in the thick of it -- immortalizing it all in pictures and prose, even -- and I start wondering if this "you-won't-let-me-do" thing or that "I-don't-wanna-do" thing will be one of the many things sending her off to therapy some day.
There are scads of things I'm doing right now, and next week, and next year that will influence her future self.
Perhaps she will tell her currently nameless, faceless counselor that it all felt like a theater performance. One in which, at some point during an intermission, all the players changed and she became second fiddle?
It's not really the daily mom job that’s so hard. Sure logistics have to be mastered; there’s getting to school, and work, figuring out how to get from Point A to Slot B without folding, spindling or mutilating anything in the process. In this role of parent, one finds an infinite number of things that will never get done or will always need doing. Sleep gets stolen and with it disappears a fair chunk our patience and what’s left of our youth. And yet it is, the daily being -- mom or dad – is what shapes their childhood.
It is here that size matters.
Like many people in my generation, I accepted the Schoolhouse Rock-themed family, and for a few years three was a "Magic Number." But then baby-itis takes hold. And you think … just one more would be nice.
The guilt of leaving an only child to fend for itself after your gone gnaws at you. Until you give in. And then when the deed is done and you are incubating a sibling the guilt of ending that special time gnaws on the part of you that was, and still may be, a little unsure of its decision-making abilities.
I know during most of my pregnancy with The Champ, especially at the end when I thought he may have special needs, I worried about the implication it would have for Ittybit. How would another child affect our relationship as mother and daughter? How would her life change now that she had to share.
After he was born and one day led into another just trying to juggle a new act with an expanded cast of characters, I nearly forgot about the anxiety that had led me to worry.
Ittybit was so good with The Champ, and so generous in sharing OUR time, I was able to push any guilt of splitting my affections aside.
As the baby grows into his personality, however, there are tiny clashes -- storm clouds erupt over who sits where at the dinner table, or who’s playing with whose toys and who sits on my lap when they’re too big or squirmy to share.
When my anger builds and the "you should know betters" and the "why are you being so means" stream from my mouth aimed at the big kid, slowly the guilt comes back.
Perhaps the thing that makes me feel the worst is that, as a parent, I am more relaxed with The Champ than I was with her. I feel as if I'm enjoying his baby days a more than I enjoyed hers. And in the figuring out of that equation I can only conclude that it shouldn't be right to enjoy one baby more than another.
I know I love them both the same. It is strange how that works: Like an elastic bubble opening up and letting them both fit snugly inside.
Only one will always be first; the experiences new and worrisome while the other will always be second, familiar and comfortable.
I can tell you The BEST thing that's happened, though, is that it HAS happened and now it IS.
Ittybit is still happy to have a brother. Happy not to be alone. And when I see The Champ watching her with rapt joy, I know that she needed someone to look up to her. She needed someone who is smaller. But I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if she had a sibling to look up to when she was just a wee thing.
It's so easy to lose the plot as the players change. I suppose I need to remember that she may yet have that experience. After all, while he'll always be younger he won’t always be smaller.