Tonight I was thinking "wow, I'm so glad we have Selina." I have to tell you, I've always been glad we have Selina but I haven't always been glad we have two kids--if it's possible to somehow speculate in a detached way from your own specific children.
Some of you may recall that only days before we brought Selina home, we had informed our agency that we wanted to be an only child family and to take us off the list. They ignored us and called us with Selina.
Obviously, they knew our ambivalence was deeper than we realized, because we jumped on the offer of this newborn baby. Next thing you know, all my predictions about how much having a toddler and a newborn would suck came true. So much of it sucked. It was soooooo hard. (I know, YOU have six kids, I admire you, I'm even jealous. For us, two was very hard.)
But almost immediately, all the good things about having siblings came true too, even though I had not expected them to for, oh, 30+ years or so. Nat adored baby sister, baby sister adored Nat. Any jealousy or frustrations Nat had, she took out on me, not Selina. Selina she cooed and sang and read to. That happy surprise helped pick me up in the midst of the sleepless misery of so much of the rest of it.
Then pretty soon, Selina developed this little personality that was so different from Nat's yet every bit as charming. She and I would exchange secret grins. She was overflowing with affection and completely easy-going. She bumps her head, she rubs it and moves on. She trips and falls, she giggles and gets up and moves on. Sister grabs a toy away, she cries. I make Nat apologize, but by the time she can say "sorry Selina," Selina has forgotten the problem and is just thrilled that Nat is talking to her.
The other day I realized that at some point recently, Nat turned a corner and became Selina's sister as much as Selina is Nat's sister. That is, Selina joined Nat in the family, but Nat had already established herself. Now, they've been together for so long that they both exist in relation to each other in the family. It isn't Nat and her baby sister, it's The Sisters. Nat's language reflects this. Instead of asking me for things for herself, about half the time at least she says "two girls need something to eat" or "two girls need to get down now and do some jumping" (and they did, as I'd had them at the table watching videos for a hour while I washed dishes and other things I didn't want them getting into). "Come on, sister!" Nat says when I tell Nat to go play in her room for awhile. And in the morning, if I have left a cup of milk and a sippy cup of formula in the fridge the night before, Nat will get them both, take them back to their room and they have their milk together before waking me up.
But most of all these days, I'm glad Selina is here, because she is just a little ball of sugarplum sweetness right now. Not only is that great in and of itself, but when three and a half-year old Nat is making me tear my hair out, I look at sweet, grinning Selina and remember that no so long ago, Nat was that compliant and easy-going and just plain cute and it reminds me to cut her some slack. She's still my sweet little baby, she's just growing up. Selina will do it too, and go through her own terrible threes (and I have no doubt they will be most terrible--she has a nasty temper when she shows it--it's just that she's still little enough that her tantrums are comical and cute instead of exasperating).
So as good as Nat is for Selina, Selina is doing Nat a big favor too. They are really well suited together and I can't imagine either of them without the other. I'm so glad we put up with the misery of that first year (and it did get increasingly better all year anyhow). It was so worth it!
(No word yet, on our speculations about adding a third. I still look at moms with three and feel a pang of jealousy, but that doesn't mean I'll do anything about it--necessarily!)