Dear “Big Kids”,
I see your indignant expressions out of the corner of my eye as I wrangle your baby brother into his high chair. You want to ride your bikes or jump on the trampoline, not watch me serve up goldfish crackers, again.
“That sounds like so much fun, go for it!” I’ve tried it many times, and we all know the answer that will follow. You don’t want to go alone. You want me. I plead for your patience and understanding. “Maybe after I put him down for his nap?”
Coming down the steps an hour later, ready to make up for lost time, I see you both. Bored, sprawled on the couch with iPads in hand. Letting Youtube fill the gaps. I glance outside, and it’s raining.
Ugh, I should have made it happen earlier. The mom guilt stands up loud and proud for the millionth time today. I scramble to join you both on the couch. You begrudgingly humor me as I kiss the top of your heads, or hold your hands and admire each not-so-tiny finger.
You’re changing so fast. Your brother arrived and in the blink of an eye your legs grew long and skinny, your faces lost their squishiness. You’re strong and healthy and for that I’m grateful, but give me just a little more time here in this moment before it’s gone.
“Let’s play ninja warrior!” A scream lets loose as you hurl your big bodies off the couch. You give me a quick glance and you know already. “Too loud,” you say quietly. When baby is awake, he needs Mommy. When baby is asleep, Mommy needs him to stay that way. The cycle never ends. I say “no” a lot more than I’d like, and I spend hours worrying about how it affects you both.
When baby brother is awake, we head to a playground to save the day. As we pull into a parking spot, I agree to let you both takeoff toward the equipment with a burst of excitement, though it’s way out of my comfort zone. I get your brother settled into his stroller in a mad rush so I can make sure you’re alright on your own. I battle the mulch as I wheel the stroller around from location to location, cheering you on with every big climb and fast slide. He and I decide to settle on a park bench and watch for a while.
“Do you see us Mom?!” you cry from the top of a tower, faces beaming and hands waving wildly. I yell back that I see you and I’m so proud… and I truly mean it.
I see you getting yourselves dressed in the morning, proudly walking down the hall to your classrooms at school each day, playing for hours outside with your friends in the afternoon. I see you learning. Learning to tie your shoes, learning to read, learning how to care for one another when I’ve got my hands full.
I’m so proud of you. Proud of how you’ve grown and thrived during this messy, strange year we’ve had. I’m proud of the way you’ve welcomed a baby into your world with so much love and patience. Seeing the way you look at each other fills my heart in a way you couldn’t possibly understand until it’s your turn.
It’s a funny thing, the way raising a baby takes me back to each moment with you both. I feel his tiny hands, and I can feel yours. I hear his breathy voice as he tries new words, and I’m there with you as you say “Mama” for the first time. I look at you both, growing like weeds, and I squeeze him tighter. Time is a slippery little thing. I know when our busy days are done, I’ll look at the three of you and know I did my job. I gave you each other. But for now, my “big kids”, thank you for waiting while he needs me the most. It was you not that long ago, and I spoiled you rotten.