“Do you want Baby to come for stories?” I asked
“Yes,” he said. “And prayers.”
I set her on his bed.
Helped him choose books.
Lifted him up, over the toddler bed rails.
And climbed in behind him.
He moved closer to her, settling down at the foot of the bed.
They were reclining on the pillows I placed there to keep him from falling out of the bed.
Before she was born, when he was my only child, my heart always felt like a piece was missing, unless we were together.
And now, even if I’m holding him close, I feel like I’m missing some vital part of me unless she’s there.
And vice versa.
Not less, not divided. Just complete with both.
“Can I hold her hand?” he asked.
“Yes, of course,” I answered, helping him slip his fingers into hers.
Watched her hand close around his fingers.
I took each of their free hands in mine.
One so small, so vulnerable.
One twice her size, yet seemingly larger than life.
Today was a hard day. A day of co-oping at preschool. Sleep deprivation from taking care of a new baby and physical exhaustion from a long weekend away. The postpartum hormone cocktail. Tantrums because I had the wrong music on my phone and the water temperature from the faucet wasn’t right and other injustices I can’t remember.
In the midst of the drama, I had spoken words I wish I could take back, used a tone I regret.
Now, their father was working late. It is a busy time of year.
I was doing the bedtime routine on my own.
And I was weary.
My resources depleted.
“Mama, is she smiling at me?”
“Yes, honey, she is.”
He smiled back, their eyes met.
“Mama, her eyes are smiling at me too!”
I felt their hands in mine, so soft and trusting. Each holding on in its own way.
I leaned over, kissing each of my children on the cheek.
As I looked at our hands, our circle, I felt the raw edges heal, the wave of frustration recede.
I stopped and breathed, grateful for this time, for this gift.
After a few minutes, I reminded him it was time to read.
He reached for Eric Carle’s Brown Bear and started to read to her, his voice staccato as he recited the words from memory.
Sharing one of his favorites with his sister, while she listened intently.
“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?”
In that moment, I saw love and innocence and family.
The beauty of siblings.
The resiliency of childhood.
And a purity I was humbled to be part of.