- Globally of some pretty darn good cards, like being born healthy in the U.S., to financial security and loving parents.
- Personally to my "won the lottery" cards, when I think about my parents, their marriage, and the family life they gave us growing up.
- Sometimes to my "surprise" cards, like having lived in St. Louis and now in Boston, and managing pretty well as a "medical widow" for 4 years now.
- Often to my "dream come true" cards when I think about the years I spent at Saint Olaf College.
- Occasionally to my "it could be worse but it still sucks" card when I think about a rare and chronic physical ailment I've had since childhood and often can't keep at bay, one that caused (and still sometimes causes) severe pain; and
- At night about those looming, terrible cards that I haven't turned over yet. The cards that will show me the various heartaches, rejections, and struggles my children will inevitably face. The cards that will tell me of terminal situations for my parents. The cards of worse things still that might be lurking in my deck, unknown to me.
Okay sorry that got so dark. The point is that lately these days, almost every single day, I think about my totally random, it-might-not-last, takes my breath away, holy MOLY card - that of the relationship (thus far) between my two children.
I was prepared for the worst. As much as *I* felt that Matthew and I were in need of a third companion, I spent a lot of time worrying that it was going to be a disaster for him. At the time, I was the only parent Matthew saw more than 2-3 times a week (and briefly at that), and I feared that sharing my love would be very hard for him. I think I cried a little thinking about it during those first few hours of holding Claire ... I felt so guilty that I loved her just as much as I loved him (crazy, but true). I freaked out when Matthew had a meltdown before we could leave the hospital, imagining that it was because he walked in on me holding Claire in bed - seriously, I almost tried to leave without getting discharged. And during those first few weeks when the adjustment was rough (Matthew would go to hug Claire, but then squeeze her aggressively) it tore hole after hole in my heart even as I was generally euphoric to be back at home, finally getting to know my baby girl.
Then about a week or so after we got home, my husband - whose uncanny insight into interpersonal relationships often surprises and impresses me, and (along with his cooking skills) has led me to believe that "genius is genius" in all areas of life - did what turned out to be the best thing ever. Over my protests he kicked me and Matthew out of the house, alone, to get ice cream. It. Changed. Everything.
Since then, with daily exceptions where I have to remind Matthew to be gentle, I have been repeatedly blown away by how much Matthew adores and cares for his sister. As the days fly by faster and faster I want to make sure that I document what I can of this. For them, later, and also for me. So here's the list. Some of my absolutely most treasured memories, memories that I had absolutely no clue were in my cards.
- The time, when Claire was about 6 weeks old, that Matthew was having one of his truly epic public tantrums. He was kicking and flailing and I couldn't even contain him and then he threw himself onto the car seat she was sitting in. Passerby (already staring, of course) gasped and everyone - including me - feared he was about to take his anger out on his sister. But then something truly miraculous happened. He looked up, saw her face, and stopped. He just sort of stopped and leaned on her and started rocking the car seat with his body. This is a kid who had never, EVER in his LIFE stopped a temper tantrum without being carried not just to the car but all the way to his room to calm down. A lady said "Wow, he must really love her!" It was amazing.
- Matthew often trying to lift her arm and saying "So big!" "So big!"
- Claire at 7 months, giving Matthew her version of kisses.
- Claire hiding shyly by burying her head in Matthew, when talking to a stranger.
- Matthew, barely able to talk, needing two breaths to refer to her for the first few months. "Bay-Bay. Kyar." It was like he had to include her proper title, no matter how laborious.
- Matthew often insisting on having what he has deemed "some TWO baby time!" on the changing table.
- Matthew, trying to sing the dorky theme song I made up for Claire. "Ooooh Ma-Das-Too-Toos!"
- Matthew, holding Claire's hand in the bike trailer, her leg over his, saying "Baby Claire is your Sister. Baby Claire is your BESS FWIEND!" (he often says things the way we would say them to him)
- Laughter from the back when Matthew (2.75 years) and Claire (7 months) make each other laugh. Claire cracking up even though it's otherwise impossible to get her to laugh!
- Matthew, freaking out at the thought of leaving Claire behind when I sat her on the grass and put him in the car to move it (looooong before she was even remotely mobile).
- Matthew, insisting on riding in the bottom seat with Claire, all the way to and from Starbucks. Giving her nice touches on her hair.
|Claire 5 weeks, Matthew 2y2m|
|"Havin' some TWO baby times!"|
|He used to always try to hang out in her swing(s) with her.|
|Discovered him sharing his hot cocoa with her on the couch (Claire 2.5 months).|
|They found their way to my feet as I was cooking dinner.|
|Love this one.|
|Discovered him trying to feed her the rest of her bottle after a walk one day.|
|No Sister Left Behind!|
|The best way to avoid morning grouchies? Wake Matthew up by sticking Claire in bed!|
|Bike trailer buddies. They held hands back there in Bar Harbor.|
|He insists on riding in her bottom seat with her now. Thankfully she still naps, but not as much with him around!|
|He loves her and he loves his dandelions. When he loves, he loves.|