Thoughts on the becoming of a sisterhood:
When I told people that I was pregnant with another daughter, it was rare I didn't get told how lucky Marlo was to be getting a sister.
"What a gift you're giving her!" Luck of the draw, really.
"She is so lucky! Sisters are the best." I wouldn't know... don't have one.
"She's got a best friend for life!" They'll both be teenagers so they're bound to hate each other at some point, right?
There were also fearful, sympathetic undertones in their well wishes, too. People often have an inexplicable instinct to create competition between sisters (and women in general, for that matter). Someone once had the audacity to tell me, "Well, I'd really hate to be known as Marlo's little sister. She'll never be able to measure up to her because she's so beautiful." Mo also was made fully aware of how dreadful her life would become once the new baby comes. "Uh oh! It's not just about you anymore!"
Since I didn't grow up with a sister, I had no frame of reference on these matters. Maybe I was naive but I chose to believe (and still do) that Mo would grow up being the kind of girl we simply encouraged and supported her to be and I intended to apply that same tactic to sisterhood if only because it made the most sense.
After Edie was born and as I watched Marlo adjust to this new world we were all trying (and mostly failing) to navigate, I often cursed the well-meaning people who ever told me that giving Mo a sister was the best thing we could ever do for her. Liars! All of them! It wasn't a blessing. It felt like a curse for all persons involved. It was the hardest thing I'd ever done and still failed miserable at. It was even more painful (for Edie, mostly) to watch Mo become so frustrated with us and her new role but not be able to communicate it in a way that didn't involve hitting or scratching her sister. I'm not sure who cried more those first few hazy months: me, Edie, or Mo.
Sorry, kid. I hate to break it to you but she's here to stay.
About a month into the game, I had a complete breakdown. I weeped to Joe, convinced we made a mistake having another kid. I remember accusing myself of being selfish for wanting another baby, for wanting to disrupt Marlo's life just as it was really getting so good (I had yet to meet the threenager she'd soon become). I was certain that I'd ruined Marlo's life beyond repair and that she would never accept, let alone like or love, her little sister.
Mind you, I may have been slightly hormonal and irrationally over-dramatic but I was also understandably devastated. Sibling-hood looked nothing like I pictured it and my expectations were shockingly realistic. I expected and prepared myself for an adjustment period but I didn't think that Marlo's heart would actually be broken by bringing "that baby" into the world.
She wouldn't even say her name for the longest time. Edie was That Baby.
That baby pooped.
That baby won't stop crying.
That baby needs to eat so it will stop crying.
Looking back, I know that I had only yet to see the light at the end of tunnel. We weren't there yet-- we weren't even remotely close and in such dark, difficult to navigate times like postpartum, whether it be for the first time or the third, ignorance ain't bliss. That tunnel turned out to be eleven months longer than I had hoped. (Hey, just because I was realistic, doesn't mean that I wasn't optimistic for a best case scenario.)
When I became pregnant with Mo and began thinking about the kind of mother I wanted to be, I promised myself that I'd always let my kids figure it out on their own time, never rushing them into being something they weren't ready for. In this case, all I could do was follow through with that promise and hope for the best, whatever that best looked like.
Two weeks ago, as I walked into the girls' playroom, I watched Mo lean in and whisper to Edie, "You're my best favorite girl ever. I love you so much, Edie girl."
As my heart began beating outside of my chest in total awe (and an immeasurable amount of pride for Mo) like one of those lovestruck cartoon characters, I realized that the people who once told me how magical it would all be... well... they couldn't have been more right.