Dora's new thing as she's going to sleep at night is to ask me to tell her things. "Tell me about what we're going to do this month." Or "tell me about when the baby is bigger and I am bigger." And "tell me about when you were a baby." Judging from the chatter coming from her room right now, I'm not sure how well this actually works for getting her to bed, but it's sweet anyway, and tonight it made me realize something I needed to figure out.
I have been moping around and writing and worrying a bit recently about not being able to focus just on Dora anymore, about becoming a mom again and having to let go of the luxury of one child. I am really excited about this baby, and having another child is something we want, but it's not without heartache by any means. Last night after work, Dora was being so good while I made dinner - coloring and talking to me. While dinner was in the oven, I sat by her coloring desk and watched her, crying over her sweetness and charm and feeling guilty and sad and scared all at once about how a new baby will disrupt this.
I've tried to explain to her that there will be a lot of work that I have to do with the baby at first, that mommy will be busy a lot and she'll need to spend time with daddy. I think on some level she's a little worried about this, because she has been extraordinarily difficult and needy lately, especially at night, but for the most part she just talks about how excited she is that the baby is coming.
So tonight when she asked about what will happen in the next month, I was blathering on about helping me with diapers and baths and feeding the baby. Then she asked me to talk about when she and the baby are bigger, like she knew or perceived that she needed to remind me that there is more in our future than just newborn chaos, that there will be a time when they really play together and become friends. I talked about blocks and the train set and, eventually, Uno (the latest craze in our house). And then I said, "you'll be a wonderful big sister. You and baby will be great friends, and you'll take care of each other." And it made me remember one of the reasons I really wanted to have another child in the first place - to give my children to each other, to give them each someone other than Brian or me to be tied to, to love, to trust, to navigate through life with, to take care of, hopefully for the rest of their lives. It's not to say that I don't think that only children can have this through friends and cousins and other ways, because I certainly do think they can. But I still wanted to give that sibling tie to my own kids, if I could, if the stars aligned to allow it.
Snuggling with Dora again tonight to try to get her to bed, my belly was pushed up against her back and baby was kicking against her. She's asked me before to lay like that so she can feel the baby move. Already they have a connection, one that is probably already more powerful then even the sadness I feel about letting go of this time. Being reminded of that connection doesn't necessarily make me feel any less bittersweet about this, but it does add a new dimension to this jumbled up mix of emotions I'm feeling.
I saw a postcard today about a book project that asked, "what does love look like"? Well - that's it, I guess. Taking care of each other, being connected to one another, learning from each other even when one of us is only 4, loving each other even when it's hot and past bedtime and mommy is so incredibly tired and pregnant. Love looks like sharing the rest of your ice cream cone when mommy drops hers on the floor. Love looks like playing cards one more time before bed, because secretly you love it just as much as your kid does, or maybe more. Love looks like answering silly questions while we fall asleep, making up stories from our own childhoods, the baby kicking up against us, saying goodnight in its own little way.