I stumbled on this today in my little writing collection on OneDrive. I couldn’t believe I wrote it ten months ago. Ten months! Why do babies have to grow so fast?!
It’s only been about two weeks, so it still feels so fresh. She’s walking now, our sweet sunshine girl. When I call her that, our sunshine one, I mean it. We named her after the sun. Her middle name, Sol, turned out to be prophetic, a self-fulfilling prophesy. She is one of the happiest babies that I have ever known and she is mine (ours, if you want to get technical).
Her older sister did not walk until she was fourteen months, and then she took off like a racehorse. With her there was no first step the way a new parent imagines it; a wobbly, fumbling lurch forward that ends with a dive into Mommy or Daddy’s arms. Nope, Lou took a bottle out of her father’s hand and walked it to me from across the living room. She handed it to me and, with her hands unencumbered, began to clap. It was as if she was telling us, “Forget the baby stage. I’m walking now, and in a week I may start running!” She does, however, still run like Phoebe from that Friends episode in which Phoebe’s jubilant (and clumsy) athleticism embarrasses Rachel. I have even had one father, upon seeing her break into her version of a sprint at the local gym, say, “That’s an expression of pure joy.” He laughed when he said it. I did, too.
With our second girl everything has seemed a little sweeter, a little less urgent than it did with our oldest. I hate to fall into that old adage of second time parents equating to less concerned parents, but I guess in some sense it is true for us. Her every cough or hiccup does not make me pause in fear with the doctor’s number poised for a call in my phone. Her nighttime yowl does not get me scrambling out of bed, sheets bunched around my feet, to check on her. Now, I get up when the cry turns urgent, when it is no longer saying, “I’m irritated that the tag of the blanket made my face itchy” but “I need some serious cuddling, stat!” Now, I know the difference. That, in itself, was a milestone for this constant worrier.
Our second daughter did have those sappy sitcom first toddling steps. About three weeks before her first birthday she began to take just the most hesitant steps, only when the attraction well for whatever she wanted was very deep. If you were holding or shaking a toy, resorting to making funny faces, you did not have a chance. If it was a cellphone or remote however, the likelihood was high that she would try to walk for it. She would shakily move between her father and me on the living room floor, eventually flopping on her butt and slapping the carpet when she could not go the distance. Then, her good humor always quickly restored, she would pop back up and try again.
What surprised me was how easily her sister could get her to try. While with Lou we held her and walked her about a lot or let her cling her pudgy baby fingers to ours as we steered her down the hall, our second child could go diving off after her sister at a moment’s notice. All it took was a smile or nudge from Lou, perhaps one of her proficient looks of mischief, and Miss Sol would let go of whatever she had been holding on to and try to step away. That is how she learned to climb before she walked, how she learned to rock a rocking chair or car seat before she took off as well. She learned it all from her big sister.
I, an only child, had no idea the impact siblings have on one another. I thought that bringing our new baby home to her big sister, raising her in the same household, would be almost exactly like it was the first time around with some minor adjustments for the youngest one’s unique personality. I could not have been more wrong! Nearly everything has been different, and I am amazed by how the same environment has affected them so contrarily as well.
Lou was always a fussy eater. Even now we have to monitor her to make sure she is getting enough calories for the day. Though we have made it a habit to cook and sit down for a family meal, she can barely wait for the food to be brought to the table before she is up and zipping around, telling us all about her day. If you want to hear a pretty impressive rendition of ‘A Whole New World’ she can deliver. If you want her to eat from each food group, that is a much greater challenge. There are times (don’t judge me!) when, in a pinch before bed, I have caved and let her have that cookie or donut just to be sure she is not at negative calories to exercise for the day.
Her sister however, seems to be constantly eating. Cheese, rice, broccoli, noodles, steak; you name it and she likes it. She was able to digest mozzarella before her sister. We have to help Lou safeguard her M&Ms and popcorn, because her little sister will wait until she is not looking and steal them away.
Lou now claps whenever the Sol child walks a long expanse. She will raise her little toddler voice and exclaim, “You’re so big!” or she will turn to me and ask, “Is she big now?”
Yes, I say. Yes, she is big, like you.
It is easy to identify the ways in which my girls are different. One is a picky eater, the other is always eating. One has blond hair, one has brown. One likes to wear dresses, the other tears at skirts if you force her into one. Now, though, I am finding it easier to see the ways in which they are similar. They are both super thin despite their eating preferences. They both say “Mom” with the same intonation of love in their voices. They both want a bedtime kiss at night. They are both confident. Now, they are both walking. I would not change a second of it.