I just did a really shitty bedtime story routine with you, I’m sorry. We were reading “Mog and the V.E.T” and I was rushing because I could hear Moo in the playroom with Daddy, screaming for milk. You were trying to finish the sentences for me and instead of encouraging you and laughing at your jazz hands, I crossly said we didn’t have the time for this tonight and would you just shush and listen please. Sometimes, I feel like I say that kind of thing a lot. I douse your fire because I’m needed somewhere else.
I never worried about how you might adapt to being a big sister. You’re very maternal, even at three years old, and I knew your love and kindness would extend to wrap around this new little imposter into your world. In the lead up to Moo’s arrival, though, I worried about where you might be when I needed to go to hospital – what if it was in the middle of a nursery day and we had to uproot you? What if it happened in the dead of night and we’d have to extract you from your bed, full of sleepy dreams, and deposit you at Nana and Grandad’s? As it happened, Moo’s timing was perfect. (Well, almost perfect – she was 15 days early and I’d only finished work 4 days previously. I’d had no break. No. Break.) My waters broke close to dawn on Monday morning, Monday being the day you spend at Nana’s house anyway. We ended up dropping you off at exactly the same time as usual, and you were overjoyed at the revelation of a superfun sleepover when Daddy pulled your little wheelie suitcase from the boot. For my part, I was suddenly overtaken with a sickening fear that, if I were to die giving birth, this might be the last time I saw you. With contractions ripping through my torso and hot tears threatening to spill over, I couldn’t even speak as I buried my nose into your hair and held on tight. You wriggled out of my grasp and skipped away, the lure of fruit and fibre too great to resist.
I didn’t see you for 26 hours. I’d read that it’s better for the mum not to be holding the new baby when older siblings are first introduced. My bed in the ward was next to the door, and I kept an ear trained on the footsteps and voices coming up and down the corridor. When I heard you, I hastily lay Moo down on the bed and realised that my heart was racing like the clappers. I was nervous, first date nervous. Daddy carried you in and you looked at me shyly.
What had happened to you? It’s a cliche, but overnight you’d turned into a giant. When did your face get almost as big as mine? When did your chubby little fingers, that would curl so tightly around my own, become the ruddy, sticky hands of a child who constantly needs a wash? You’d always been a tiny dolly to me, but now you were practically Lucy from Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. I held open my arms and as you trotted into them, I hauled you up onto the bed. Christ, you were heavy – how was I lugging you around, as well as my baby bump, only two days ago? I watched you taking Moo in, bending to kiss her and almost covering her whole body with your head. I told you that Moo had a present for you, because you were her big sister and she already loved you very much. You told me that you loved her, too, and my little heart ached for the closing of our chapter, just us.
You are absolutely hands down the best big sister in the world. I’m a big sister too and you’re way better at it than me. When Moo is sick, you grab the nearest “mus-mus” and wipe her face with as light a touch as you can manage (still a bit brutal, but we’ll get there). When her cries reach fever pitch and I just need 30 more seconds to run around like a headless chicken, you’ll hunt out her dummy and help her to hold it in her mouth. You call it a bunny – I corrected you, until you quite rightly pointed out that there’s a picture of a bunny on the front so therefore “it just is a bunny,
mummy, it just is”. I love your logic. Sometimes you’ll sneak next to Moo on her playmat, squeezed under the arching pseudo jungle greenery, showing her how to poke at the various hanging toys.
You’re so proud of her, too. If strangers gaze at Moo in her pram and gush over her, you trip over your words in your excitement to tell them that she’s your little sister. You stand atop your buggy board and make sure her feet are tucked in under her blanket, and you hold her hands and make faces until she beams at you. Her very first smile was for you, and you can hold her attention better than any of us.
I wish I could sign this off by saying that tomorrow we’ll read together and I’ll give you all the time in the world. Maybe I could climb into bed with you and we’d snuggle under the covers and look at your full collection of Mog books. But I can’t promise that – for starters, I’m not sure that your cabin bed can take the strain of my lard arse. I don’t know what your silly sister will be doing, and knowing us we’ll probably be really late in getting you to bed and we’ll all have a case of the rats and need some peace and quiet. But I can promise that soon, I’m going to take you on a date to the cinema, and we’ll share popcorn and fizzies and you won’t be an accessory to a cute new baby. You’ll be you, and you’re the best you that ever lived.
This has always been my favourite quote but now, it makes me think of you:
Love you, my main wingwoman.
-SJW June 2016