transitions. / by jen geigley

The other day, Lo came home from school and said she had something bad to tell me. Something really, really bad. (That's a quote.)

My girl has said things like this before and it usually ends up being something pretty minor. Like how she found a preschool classmate's clean-up reward sticker stuck to the sleeve of her shirt and needs to give it back immediately.

But this time, she took me into her room and asked me to close the door (even though the only people at home were me, her and the baby.) And after some hesitation, she whispered into my ear "I don't think I like being a big sister. And I love Bowie. But ... I don't think I like being a big sister." And then she quickly covered her mouth and her eyes opened wide and she looked at me.

And I said "Oh my gosh, did you think I'd be upset with you?" And she said "Yes." And I told her I wasn't upset. At all. That I completely understood and that it was okay for her to feel that way. I told her that when I was five, I was a big sister too, and I remember how it felt.

And the thing is ... she's a fantastic big sister. If the baby cries, she rushes over to give him a pacifier or sing a song or shake a rattle for him. She, on her own, can get him to stop crying. She's a natural little caretaker. Sure, the 'newness' has worn off and she's a little less likely to help every single time I check in to see if she wants to get involved in whatever is going on at the moment. But Bo and I have tried extra hard to roll with it and take things as they come with her feelings in mind. He has taken her to do tons of extra fun activities so that she has that one-on-one time. Not to say that every minute has been easy, because it hasn't. We knew it would be hard, but somehow I didn't expect ... this. Why wasn't I more prepared?

I felt horrible. I felt guilty. Had I expected too much from her? Was I involving her too much or not enough? I had thrown her into this new role and I felt so often that it was impossible to give her the attention and time she needed. She used to have entire days alone with me and we could do pretty much anything she wanted. We'd hang out, have picnics, play outside or watch movies and she would always say with a smile, 'girls only.'

Things are so different for her now.

And then my mind immediately flashed back to this post by Dooce. It's one of those things you read and somehow remember every word, years later. She had written about how five-year-old Leta suddenly looked like a giant next to newborn Marlo. (My thoughts exactly. The enormous hands, the eyes ... the head!) And how Leta wanted her new baby sister to stop crying at her. And how she buried her face into her dad's neck one night and said "I want you to love me." And I was like, woah. Yeah. This is our life right now.

I found myself saying the same things to Lo. Those universal mom things. I hugged her hard and told her I loved her so very, very much. That she was my first-born baby and my one and only most favorite daughter. That she was a wonderful big sister, even if she didn't like being a big sister right now. And that someday things will change and it will get better and easier and more fun.

And then I promised her a 'girl date' to grab doughnuts or fro-yo or whatever she wanted. Just like we used to. Girls only.