Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Year Of First With Our Second

"Sisters don't need words. They have perfected a language of snarls and smiles and frowns and winks - expressions of shocked surprise and incredulity and disbelief. Sniffs and snorts and gasps and signs - that can undermine any tale you're telling." ~ Pam Brown.
 It may seem odd to write a year of columns about "firsts" as we welcome our second child into the family. Although life with a newborn is challenging, we've been here before. For the most part, we've encountered many of the "firsts" that come with raising children. Things like first time rolling over, first time eating cereal, first time saying mama. 

I still remember the first night Grace slept through the whole night, because neither of us could decide who had to go and check to make sure she was okay in the morning. This time around, we have a video monitor, so I think we're good to go when Charlotte decides she's no longer a party animal in the middle of the night.
And so while many of those "firsts" are not necessarily our first time with babies, it is certainly a new experience for me raising sisters. 
Although I have three wonderful sisters-in-law and lots of friends, I never had a sister of my own. I am lucky to have a sweet younger brother, who has become one of my closest friends as an adult.

But if anyone were to ask me when I was a child, I would never have thought Johnny and I would be close friends ever in life. We knew how to push each other's buttons and fought what seemed near constantly. But I don't think I would trade him for anything.
Once Kyle and I got married, we knew we wanted to have more than one child. Both of us are so close to our siblings, and we wanted our children to have that experience too. It hasn't turned out exactly the way we planned, but I'm so glad that Grace and Charlotte will have each other.
When we brought Charlotte home from the hospital, and laid her next to Grace on a blanket, sometimes Grace would smile and sometimes she would completely ignore Charlotte. It's hard to know exactly how much Grace comprehends about having a baby sister, but I like to think she's pretty proud of her.

As they lay there next to each other, I began to wonder what Charlotte's future would hold. I think all parents do that with new babies. Would she be a good student? Would she want to play sports? Everyone keeps telling us what long fingers she has, and that she would be a good piano player. And then my heart skipped a beat. People told us that exact same thing when we brought Grace home. Kyle and I even talked about whether or not Grandma Kim would be able to give her piano lessons. Now, Grace couldn't even hold herself up on the piano bench, let alone reach the keys.
I also struggled watching Charlotte kick her arms and legs (more like flailing them) around Grace. Would Grace wonder why her little sister could move around so much and she couldn't? My good sense tells me that Grace probably isn't able to think in terms like that, but I still worry sometimes if she wonders that it's not fair.
It's hard at times when these thoughts take over my mind. I wonder how many years Grace and Charlotte will have together, and even if Charlotte will remember her time with Grace.

But then I stop and do my best to refocus. This is what I do know. Charlotte is going to be a great friend to Grace. As she gets bigger, I know she will be the one to bring her toys, read her stories and best of all make her smile and laugh. Grace has always loved being around kids, and I feel like Charlotte will be her best friend, even if they can't talk to one another.
And I know this. Grace will teach Charlotte more lessons in her lifetime than I have learned in mine. She will help Charlotte learn to be compassionate and kind to everyone, even those who are different. She will teach her patience when Charlotte has to wait if mommy and daddy are helping Grace. And she will teach her that love is the most powerful gift of all.

I envision that Grace and Charlotte will have a language all their own and be able to communicate with one another without ever saying a single word. And that's the true bond of sisterhood.

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