|My Bookends, first born baby and last born baby|
The children’s vacation has ended and school has resumed. On Sunday, we unceremoniously dismantled the Christmas tree, and removed the lights which had been strung throughout the house. Like blowing out a candle, the rooms instantly became stark and dim. It was a fairly lackluster winter break; and, the children had become punchy toward one another towards the end. But, we all had the Sunday night blues before bed. By the incessant rustling of sheets and creaking of bed frames, I could tell that they all were too unsettled to get a decent night’s rest. Monday morning I woke to read First Born Son’s Facebook post, “This is going to be a looooong week.” It does feel that way.
It is too quiet here. The Baby has been out of sorts- waking to an empty house. On Monday morning, after I released her from her crib, and changed her out of her pajamas, she toddled down the hall toward First Born Son’s room- her favorite destination. She looked pitifully heartbroken to find it empty. We had gotten into a routine of sending The Baby in to wake First Born Son. She would creep to the edge of his bed and stand on her tiptoes, peering with her giant brown eyes right into his face, until he lifted her up into his arms. She would put her head on his shoulder, smile brightly and softly breathe, “Ahhh.”
To think that this time last year, as we awaited The Baby’s arrival, First Born Son adamantly asserted that he would not, under any circumstances, ever hold the baby. I respected his position. I knew in my heart that he would eventually fold to her charms. It took 6 months; but, it happened- on a quiet summer afternoon. I could tell that he had been working up the courage. He was acting funny, pacing the room, hands cold and clammy- incessantly sighing and swallowing as if he had a mouth full of cotton. “All right, I’m ready. But you’d better not tell anyone that I did it.” From that moment on, he was smitten. H and Princess Commando had each other. And, now, First Born Son finally had a sibling with whom he felt an intense and beautiful connection.
And, now that she has outgrown that painful colicky, non-sleeping, fragile stage, The Baby is not difficult to love at all. Her transformation over the past week has been incredible. She has been under the guidance of 3 additional mini teachers. Her list of achievements has grown at such a rapid- fire pace I find myself wondering on many occasions throughout the day, “When did she learn how to do that?” My favorite new talent is her rhythm and musicality- her ability to move and dance and imitate sounds and melodies. The dancing started with a shoulder shrug on Christmas Eve and now she has incorporated a toe tap and a little hip hula. It gets me giddy every time. And, I catch her performing a hundred times though out the day. I attribute that gift she has to her time spent with First Born Son, rocking out with him to Daft Punk in his room.
First Born Son worries about the significant age difference between The Baby and him. I see him start to pull away sometimes when he begins to feel so deliriously happy- wrapped up in a moment with her. He was calculating her age when he will enter college and it choked him. “She will be four. And I may be going away. She won’t know me. It’s not fair.” He is afraid to invest his love for fear that she will reject him one day because she will not remember him. I try to reassure him that their bond is something that cannot be broken over distance and time. She doesn’t call out Ma Ma in reference to me- it is for her older brother, Max. She has never laid her head on my shoulder in a show of affection. She only does that for her Max. They are kindred spirits. They will be with each other forever.
I’m feeling very fortunate- in this moment- to have all four of them, idiosyncrasies and all. That feeling may change at three o’clock when they start filing in from school. For the next 20 minutes, I will revel in that gratitude.