One of the first things that I learned about Tracy is that she is a genuinely kind, gifted writer. The more I get to know her, the more I realize just how much I like her. She’s shockingly funny, endlessly generous, and truly supportive.
Thank you so much, Tracy, for sharing this lovely story of your family with us. Your love for your girls just permeates this piece. Much love to you, my friend.
I always wanted my kids close in age. I was pregnant with Esther by the time Eloise was 17 months old, and pregnant with baby number three by the time Esther was 15 months old.
Baby number three did not arrive as planned. After four losses, countless tears, and finally acceptance that two children is truly the perfect family, Astrid arrived just before Esther turned five and Eloise seven.
Our family had an easy rhythm before Astrid arrived. Diapers long gone, kids showered on their own, I had stopped cutting up food, kids cleared their own plates, big plastic toys had been replaced by books and pencils, play dates were now called school or piano lessons, vacations days were not based upon baby’s nap times, I could sit on the bench at the playground and choose not to get in the water at the pool, and all baby items had been donated.
The small moments with my children were easy and free and completely unplanned. We moved seemingly in unison. They had reached an age where it wasn’t about big cuddles or milestones. They were at the age where the best moments were popcorn and a movie while we snuggled on the couch, time in the car singing out-loud to our favorite songs, working on schoolwork or drawing elaborate pictures pictures on their own.
Astrid changed everything.
Besides stretching my motherly efficiencies beyond what two hands can handle, she took my time, my energy, and my focus as any baby should.
I spent months apologizing to my older girls for not being able to go on field trips, volunteer at school, help them with a picture, cook a good dinner, listen to their stories.
I worried they would resent their baby sister. I worried that I would lose them and this precious time. I was at times angry at Astrid for being so fussy. For crying for 12 months straight. Did she mean to take me from her sisters? I mourned the moments I had already missed.
But one thing I have learned about motherhood, is just when you think you’ve failed, your kids hate you, and you just cannot do it one more minute – or just when you think you’ve got it all figured out and this next stage mastered..it changes on you.
And it did.
Instead of staying mad or sad or jealous and shutting themselves out to me…to us…these beautiful girls stepped up.
They watched their sister when I cooked, when I cleaned. They played with her when I showered. They snuggled with her on the couch to watch a movie. They were old enough to pick her up, to put her into her bed, to change her outfit, to feed her breakfast.
As Astrid got older, she would crawl to them for comfort, choose to lay with only them on the floor for a huge snuggle, cry at the bus stop as they left for school each day, and great them with cheers and kisses each day at three. She was their biggest fan.
So more and more they are now the ones making the small moments together. I am just an observer. I stand by the sink with dishes and hear the laughter from the other room, I hear Esther ask if Astrid needs the red crayon, I hear Eloise quiz Astrid on her shapes. I see piggyback rides and kissing boo boos. They put on her shoes and take her outside to the swing set. They get her ready for bath time. They read her bedtime books. Hours can go by and nobody comes to get me. Unless there is a poopy diaper.
I smile because I feel comfort in watching them be the ones for her, I don’t feel left out or a compelling need to join them. I don’t want to interfere as these moments they are making as sisters will take them into the future together, as these will be the women they will lean on forever.