One of my biggest worries about possibly trying for a third baby is that it will change the way I love my other two. Because I already love them differently. Not different amounts, but differently. Paul is my baby. My little dude. My snuggler. Margaret is my big kid. I love her imagination and independent play. I love her relative self-sufficiency just as much as I love Paul’s constant need for mama hugs. Would she still be my little baby at almost-four if she was an only child?
Maybe not, but even so, I feel like I gave it up too soon. When she was Paul’s age she was already the “big sister.” (In quotes because Paul wasn’t actually born yet.) I still saw her as my baby, but I knew the days until I’d have a newborn were rapidly slipping away and all the ways in which she’d grown up would be apparent.
I promised myself I’d never be the mother who came home from the hospital with my newborn and said my older kid “looked like a giant now!” She was my first baby. She was only two. I was not going to let her littleness slip through my fingers. I memorized everything about her in the months before having the baby. I noted her size, her weight in my arms. When Paul came home, I took comfort in how Margaret felt the same as she always had. She didn’t grow up overnight. She was still my baby, too.
Two years later, though, she is firmly in the big sister position. She’ll always be the older one. The first to do new things. The one who sets the example.
Who will Paul be? The youngest? The middle child? The one who’s “bigger than the baby”? Or the one who IS the baby?