People ask a lot how old N will be when the baby is born. When I tell them, they say, almost without fail, “oh, that’s perfect. He’ll never remember life before her.” I don’t know why this is such a good thing. I mean, I don’t think it’s a BAD thing. I don’t remember life before my brother. Most of us probably don’t remember life before our siblings. But it makes me realize, wow. He won’t remember these years. These two and a half years that have been my making and my undoing all at once. The years that have changed everything, irrevocably, forever, that have made me the person I am and will remain, will not ever be something he knows.
Two and a half years is, in relationship terms, a long one. A legit, meaningful relationship, one that you save notes and letters from in a shoe box. One that counted, when you look back on your life so far. And here I’ll have a two-and-a-half year relationship that will be, in the end, one that only I am aware of. He won’t even know it happened. I mean, he’ll KNOW, on some level. He’ll be well-adjusted and attached and he’ll feel somehow at his core that he is loved and safe. All of which is meaningful and real and true, all of which I want for him and will be proud of when I see it come through.
But all the loving. All the working. All the bonding. Twenty months of nursing because I couldn’t bear to take it away from him. Twenty-four (twenty-five, twenty-six…) months of rocking and bouncing and pacing and shushing and singing and reading and re-reading and trying and failing to let him cry it out. In and out of beds and rockers and recliners and cribs, and falling for 2-year-old bedtime tricks because the thought of his being afraid in the dark makes me tear up. Creams and ointments and tubes to suck snot out of teensy nostrils. Syringes and measuring cups, q-tips and nail clippers and mittens and sunscreen and Elmo bandaids and kisses for imaginary boo-boos. A good day, a truly good day in my own life being one where he gets outside, runs, colors, listens to stories and music in two languages, eats multiple food groups, and gets his rest.
He won’t know how much he loves me. The WAY he loves me in this moment, with the gazing and the thigh hugging and the cuddles. He won’t remember, though I will, how he reaches for me in his sleep, or runs his fingers through my always-ponytail-because-who-has-time when he is nervous or unsure. He won’t remember saying my name for the first time, or the first time he sighed and said, “OHHH, Mami. I love you SO much.”
I’m not complaining about the hard parts, nor do I want him to remember so that he will give me credit. It’s more that when he’s 14 and I won’t let him go to some concert or shut the door when he has a girl over, he’ll be angry. He’ll think he hates me, or that I hate him. And I wish he’d remember these years, if only so that in those moments, he can know that when he was two, there was a love that wiped boogers and cleaned poop out of the tub, a love that stayed up at night to make sure he was breathing, and that sometimes wanted to wake him up just to hear his little voice.
I know he’ll still be here once she’s here, too. I’ll still be here too, and we will love baby sister with all of our hearts. But we had a good run before her, and I think even if he’s right next to me, I’ll still miss him a little.