Built-In Best Friend
My daughters are almost 21 months apart, currently ages three and five. They have plenty of moments when they’re fighting, whether that means unkind words or hand-to-hand combat (they are human children, after all). When it all comes down to it, though, they’re best friends. They play together constantly and yes, sometimes even harmoniously. Today the girls are playing at a splash park and I can just see it— they’re built-in best friends. I’m such a planner. My plans did not include having two kids in diapers at the same time. That sounded like too much chaos. Chris, on the other hand, loved the idea of having babies roughly two years apart because he felt like it would breed a sense of closeness. His frame of reference for this was that his best friend, even as an adult, was his 23-month-younger brother. I found out I was expecting again a few days after my daughter Abbi’s first birthday. The pregnancy was a surprise. Still, we were heartbroken when I miscarried a week later. One month after the loss, I found out I was pregnant, and this time it would be Aurora. Even as I desperately wanted this baby I was terrified of the prospect of caring for two so close in age. How would we do it? (I never imagined I’d be doing it alone...) It was really hard having severe morning sickness and caring for a toddler, but my hubby helped. He was especially good about getting that first morning cloth diaper changed for me so I didn’t have to puke through it. Of course, after 18 weeks, I was doing it all without a spouse. My belly grew. My toddler grew. The grief consumed my nights after she went to bed. In and out of the crib I lifted her... in and out of the car seat... in and out of the grocery cart. I got bigger and bigger, my body swelling with a healthy baby girl tucked inside. A best friend for Abbi was growing, with every ache and pain of my back, pelvis, and hips. For the longest time then, after I welcomed my newborn, I carried one in my arms, one by the hand, and two diaper bags (cloth diapers take up a LOT of space). My body may have been large, round, and soft, but it was strong from all that I carried on a daily basis. It felt like thankless work most days; caring for my children. I loved them and I knew I was needed. This was good. And yet, sometimes all I felt like was their slave because they weren’t at an age where they could show much appreciation and they was no husband to validate or encourage me. Mothering is hard, plain and simple. I look at them now and it’s so different. They can tell me they love me. They thank me. Kisses and hugs happen from me to them and from them to me. And it’s rewarding as well on days like this when I see them loving each other well. I can see that the struggles of having two kids in under two years, and doing it myself, was a sacrifice worth making. We gave them both the best gift ever by giving them each other. I’m so glad.