A Second Child
And then there were two
-Julie Ryan Evans
“I have children.” “My Children.” “Oh, those children of mine …”
I love peppering my conversations – especially conversations with strangers for some reason – with these words. They sound so strangely wonderful coming out of my mouth, and I wonder if I’ll ever utter them without marveling that I really have two children.
And while we’re thrilled, our new family status – like any major change – has come with its fair share of challenges as well.
For example, I don’t know how I never noticed it before, but my 5-year-old son, Nolan, might be the loudest child on earth. If I could tell you how many times a day I shush him or ask him to use his indoor voice or bite my tongue to tell him yet again to PLEASE BE QUIET … Not to mention the fact that he NEVER stops talking. Really, unless he’s sleeping, there is no second he won’t beat the silence out of.
What I don’t know is if I just never noticed this fact before Lila Claire – who I’m trying to train to be a light sleeper – or if it has amplified and multiplied since his sister’s birth. Is he competing with her? Does he feel ignored? Is he getting enough attention?
Nolan loves Lila Claire more than I thought he would at this stage. I thought he’d have some initial interest, then grow bored until she grew more interactive. Not so. He wants to be with her all the time – kissing her, hugging her, holding her, telling and teaching her all sorts of things. Which just melts me to my core … WHEN she’s AWAKE.
When she’s finally sound asleep, and I’m finally going to be able to actually use the restroom and put some dishes in the dishwasher, and he decides it’s time to kiss her “head fore” (I really can’t bear to correct him on that cute take on forehead) and toes and tell her a story about 2 inches from her nose in his loudest voice, my heart isn’t doing so much melting.
Instead my patience is experiencing a deep, painful burn as I stretch, stretch, stretch it, and try not let it snap while I go ballistic.
And on top of that, he’s always in motion. He and his BIG head. Seriously, the child’s head is H-U-G-E, which runs on both sides of the family. Big brains I’m told, but I’m afraid he’s going to smack his into her smaller (though huge for her size) head. So I’m constantly telling him to be careful. “We have to watch out for Lila Claire.” “Gentle motions around Lila Claire.” “She doesn’t like you waving Darth Vadar in front of her eyes.” And on and on …
There are so many changes for him, so many adjustments he has to make and so much less of my time he gets these days. I try to pay extra attention to him to make sure I’m not short with him. Because really he’s been the center of our universe for five years, and now he has to shift over a bit and share that center stage with his sister. It can be hard to share your universe.
Nolan and I went away last weekend, leaving daddy and Lila Claire at home. My youngest brother was getting married in Texas, and I didn’t want to miss it; but I also didn’t want to take an infant on the plane during cold and flu season. So with tears and a slight disbelief that I was really leaving my weeks-old baby, off we went.
It was just the two of us again, Nolan and I – like it had been for so many years, and I thought it always would be. And while I missed Lila Claire a lot, I loved every second of being with just him again, not having to split my attention with anyone. His voice didn’t seem quite so loud, but it still never quit (I think that one might have nothing to do with the baby.) And I loved listening to his chatter and his thoughts without trying to simultaneously keep the baby happy.
We were only in Texas for one night, but during that time we spent time with my parents and my two brothers and sister. We laughed, and we talked, and we reminisced like we always do. I got to meet and play with my beautiful new niece, Abigail, and meet my new sister-in-law, Christie. My brother spoiled Nolan and bought him Legos and some Batman thing and his very own digital camera; and my sister swam in the hotel pool with him. Nolan was a ring bearer in the wedding, and did a wonderful job walking down the aisle presenting my brother with the ring.
The whole weekend I kept thinking about how Nolan could have been an only child, and that would have been just fine. I know he would have had a full and wonderful life, and never known any different. And how there’s a part of me that mourns the loss of that one-on-one bond when it was just him and I.
But I also couldn’t stop thinking about how lucky I am to have received this wonderful surprise and to be able to give Nolan some of this love that siblings bring into your life, even if you have to share your universe. The way they expand your world, the way you can argue and debate with them with abandon, the way you know you can always count on them … even if they do talk too loud or bonk you with their head once in awhile.