In less than two weeks my baby Rhiannon will turn one.
I had two major concerns this time last year; that I stay pregnant as long as possible (I was at a high risk for preeclampsia), and I was incredibly worried about the impact of a sibling on Elanor.
You may laugh, but remember, this whole sibling thing is uncharted territory for me–I’m an only child. While Ravi and I balance each other in many ways, filling in each other’s gaps (he’s the math/science guy, I’m all about literature/history and so forth), he is of no help to me on this topic–he’s also an only child. So in our house, it’s the blind leading the blind on this whole sibling thing.
Luckily for us, the girls have figured it out without much help on our part.
While Ellie has had periodic moments of attention seeking because Rhi is getting attention, and a new found irritation in the way Rhi keeps touching her stuff, it has been a fairly smooth transition for her. I am, quite frankly, shocked. I was expecting full on jealousy, and potentially even active dislike of her sister, especially with the breastfeeding relationship (that I was holding the baby ALL THE TIME-or so it felt in early days).
Instead, Ellie has mostly been the source of an unceasing flow of adoration for her sister.
The adoration goes both ways. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, or when we’re picking Ellie up from school, Rhi’s face lights up when she sees her sister. For a while, Ravi and I were joking that Rhiannon’s first word was not going to be “mama” or “dada:” it would be Ellie.
Ironically, I think the person who struggles most with Ellie & Rhi having a sibling is ME. I worry that Ellie isn’t getting enough attention. I worry that Rhiannon isn’t getting enough attention. I get frustrated that I got *so* close to life without diapers or strollers or uber dependence (not that Ellie is running to 7-11 to get milk on her own, but she can play quietly by herself in her room in the morning, buying us an extra hour of sleep)–only to find myself back at the starting line. I also get very frustrated that poor Rhi doesn’t get to have a consistent nap, or has to get woken up from a nap because Ellie has to go to school, or to gymnastics, or what-have-you.
When I worry about the girls not getting the same things, or not getting enough of something, Ravi reminds me that they have something we didn’t. That the experience of having a sibling is, by itself, a special experience that we’re giving them. They have someone with whom they’ll have a unique relationship. The notion of “sharing” or “compromise” will not be nearly as foreign to them as it was to us.
This is not to say that I think having multiple children is superior to only choosing to have one. Ellie would have a very different life if she were an only child–not better, not worse–but different. I think that what’s right for every family is different.
Overall, I feel very lucky. While I have often stumbled and fallen on the journey of transitioning from one child to two children, Ellie and Rhi have found the journey of sisterhood thus far easy. I have no illusions that things will stay this smooth–Ellie is already tattling on her sister and getting angry when Rhi touches certain possessions of hers–I’m sure that when Rhi can talk I’ll get it from both sides.
I love that recently Ellie has started to mention events in the past and assumed that Rhi was there. She claims to remember life before I had Rhiannon, but I’m not so sure that she really does. Which in some ways closes the circle–Rhiannon will never know life without Ellie, and I hope that Ellie doesn’t remember life without Rhiannon.