When I picked ToddlerGirl up from preschool earlier, one of the staff told me that she had been talking about her baby sister.
“My baby’s favourite colour is white because she likes looking at the clouds. She’s very special. It’s lovely having a baby sister.”
Obviously I was beaming as I listened! It really made my heart glow to hear that ToddlerGirl speaks so lovingly about her sister to other people.
One of the things I find hardest about being a mum to two is how divided it makes me feel. For example, when ToddlerGirl has had a potty training accident and I need to clear it up, it is incredibly stressful hearing BabyGirl crying and not being able to go to her. On the flipside, when BabyGirl is being fussy and I just can’t put her down, I feel a real pang of guilt that I can’t give my attention to ToddlerGirl.
Both my girls need me but BabyGirl often wins in the attention stakes: she’s breastfed and too little to be happy left amusing herself for long. ToddlerGirl plays by herself beautifully now but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need me to sit down with her sometimes. In between the nappy changes and naps, feedings and fussy times, plus all the essential household chores, it’s not always possible to fit that in.
This sometimes leaves me feeling that, really, she’s lost out in a big way since we had BabyGirl. She’s gone from getting virtually 100% of my time, and a significant portion of her daddy’s, to less than 50% of both while we navigate these early months.
Of course, that’s only half the story. Yes, she’s no longer our sole focus but, aside from the fact that it’s probably a good thing NOT to have everything revolving round her, she’s also gained far more. A sister, with whom she will hopefully have a great, lifelong relationship with.
This is why it makes me so happy whenever she sings a little song to BabyGirl, or gives her a cuddle, or tells her she loves her, or includes her in a game.
BabyGirl reserves her biggest smiles for her big sister and, even with a reduction of our attention, it’s clear ToddlerGirl really does adore ‘her’ baby. Learning that she tells other people this and not just us, who I suppose she could be trying to please, makes me more than a wee bit teary in my sleep deprived state!
Having grown up with a brother, I’m well aware that they won’t always play nicely together. There will be fights. There will be times they don’t want to share and can’t stand each other. But I hope the other moments make up for that. Family days out; holidays; waking up to the excitement of Christmas Day; having a fellow conspirator in the house.
It will be our job to facilitate that relationship and help it grow. For now, despite the challenges of juggling two children (not literally!) and the guilt I often feel, it really is special to witness the beginnings of their sibling relationship.