When my son was born I started to see my two year old daughter through new eyes. All of a sudden, she seemed so big. She could walk and talk, express her feelings, and eat table food. In comparison to my newborn she was so grown up!
My daughter naturally fell into her roll as big sister. She showered our new baby with hugs and kisses, tickled his feet, patted his head, and was always ready to fetch a nursing pad or burp cloth when I needed one. I was extremely impressed with her transition to sisterhood. All my fears of adding to our family were set aside as we settled into our new family dynamic.
In the weeks that followed my expectations for her grew. She had proved she could do so much and I knew she would rise to the challenge. For two years old, she is quite creative and able; I found myself wanting her to be mama’s little helper all the time. As I cared for our new baby’s constant needs I expected her to automatically learn the meaning of “wait”, embrace the idea of extra patience, and spend more time in independent play.
Then I realized my mistake. Although my two year old seems like a mini adult in comparison to my littlest one, she is still a baby her self in so many ways. At just two years (or a mere 728 days if you look at it that way) she is still little. She is my big, little girl. Big in her height, development, personality, and zest for life. But little in her need for mama, snuggles, encouragement, and purposeful interaction.
As I contemplated this, I realized I had gone through a huge transition myself – mothering one to mothering two. It’s a new balance I’m still trying to maneuver. Daily I’m trying to give my son the care and attention he needs while doing the same for my daughter. Sometimes, I feel she needs me even more than he does. As a baby, his needs seem quite basic – to be close, nourished, and kept clean. My daughter, in her growing independence, needs me in more active ways. Ways that take time, diligence, and patience. She is growing and discovering the world at an alarming rate – every day is an adventure in learning and it is my job to guide her along this journey.
I still compare my two children, but in a new way. I remember when my daughter was fresh and small and I imagine what my son will be like two years from now. In this cherished season, I snuggle and care for each of my babies, equivalent to their individual needs, personalities and age. When my patience grow thin l remind myself that although my daughter is capable, she is still young; truly, so young in the grand scheme of life.
Today, she can do so much, but she has much more to learn. Things I and our circle of family of friends will teach her in the months and years to come. She is my big, little girl and I’m blessed to walk in this paradox with her.