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The Heart Is a Clown Car: There Is Room for More

At the time of this writing, I have an 8-day  3 week one month old baby. (I was optimistic about getting this post done. Clearly I was delusional.) She is my second born, and so far she is spectacular. 

But let’s back up.

My husband and I have always had a pretty great relationship. We typically prefer to do most things together. He doesn’t have a “Man Cave;” we rarely go out with our friends without one another; and weekends are usually spent together, minus a sporadic motorcycle ride on his part.

I chalk up our desire to always be together partly to the fact that he was deployed 50 percent of the time for the first few years of our marriage, then he spent 12 of 18 months away more recently, so we take advantage of time together when we have it. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company (with exceptions, of course) and rarely argue.

I remember once being on the phone with my mom soon after my husband and I got married. I was stressed or annoyed about something, and she hinted at whether I was regretting my decision to marry him. I recall saying, “I would rather spend my day buying a lawnmower with him, than doing anything with anyone else.” (We had just bought one that weekend.) And while, sure, I would rather go see a movie with my best friend than mow the lawn with my husband, in general, it remains true.

We still like each other a lot.

When I got pregnant with our first daughter, I actually feared that I wouldn’t love her as much as I loved my husband. Anyone who knows me in real life is rolling on the floor laughing right now because my daughter was my No. 1 priority from the moment she was born. Being her mom became most of my identity, and I was perfectly OK with that. (This was partly due to the fact that she has developmental delays and attending an average of 20 appointments each month was the norm, so it took up a lot of my time.) She fills my heart with joy and makes the world a better place.

We planned on having two children. There was a moment of hesitation when we weren’t sure how severe our daughter’s needs would be, but once it became apparent that she would continually make progress, we felt confident in moving forward. 

When I got pregnant the second time, I was happy but not excited. (Sorry, second child reading this in the future. Don’t worry, I love you to death.) It was a combination of being so obsessed with my firstborn and anxiety about taking on the needs of another human. I knew life was about to get more hectic.

Of course I trusted that I would love this child just like my firstborn. But part of me couldn’t comprehend it. Years ago, my best friend and I were reveling at how amazing firstborn is, and she said, “can you imagine her ever not being your favorite?” And the simple answer was no. I loved her so much it made my heart explode. So I was worried that Second Born would be second-fiddle. How could I ever love another child as much as this one? 

I can tell you, in no uncertain terms, that the heart is indeed a clown car. There is always room for more. In fact, I have found myself prioritizing the baby’s needs, as feeding the baby is more pressing than actively engaging with a toy with the toddler. Sure, Baby has to fuss a little more than her big sister ever had to because Mama can’t feed the baby and put on the toddler’s shoes at the same time, but in general I meet her needs first.

In addition, it has been amazing to watch my firstborn become a big sister. It’s hard to gauge how much she understands, but I swear she knew from the moment she met her sister that this baby was special. This baby was different. This was her sister.  She often comes over when the baby is crying and sporadically touches or leans onto her. I hope that the baby will grow to love and appreciate all that her big sister has to offer.

I know that at some point, little sister will take on the big sister role in a way; she will pass her big sister developmentally. It will be interesting, and I imagine, at times, bittersweet. But I look forward to watching their relationship develop and grow.

I always wondered (still do) if parents have favorite children. I can say that as of now, I don’t. I tell my daughter “I missed you!” every day when I pick her up from preschool. I snuggle my baby and tell her, “I love you so much” 100 times a day. So I am relieved to confirm that it is true what I knew would happen all along: my heart would grow (I’m imagining the Grinch here) and make room for one more.

 

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