My Daughters’ Friendship Is My Favorite Part of Motherhood
I worried we were taking something away from my daughter when we had another baby, but it turns out we gave her a best friend.
Right away, I loved being a mom. I loved the feeling of a tiny hand clutching my own. I struggled through the sleepless nights, but awoke in the mornings invigorated by the joy I got from keeping my daughter safe and happy.
I loved being Mama, and then Mommy, the giver of life and then doler of treats and surprises. I loved decorating my daughter’s room. I loved making her meals and putting together her outfits. I loved letting her fall asleep on my chest and then moving her limp and suddenly quite heavy body from my bed to her own before turning in for the night and waking up to do it all again.
Of course, motherhood was not without its challenges. Cracked nipples, postpartum anxiety, weeping into the phone to my own mom because I didn’t think I deserved any of the blessings in my life. It was a life of exhaustion and chaos, diaper explosions diapers and crumbs forever littering the kitchen floor. Sometimes I felt like I was barely holding on.
But I loved it.
And when I finally came out of the bleary-eyed, frenetic months between birth and my daughter’s second birthday, I started to get a little itch deep inside. Something was missing. My independent, strong, hilarious, and chatty toddler was no longer an infant curled against in my torso. I wanted another one.
We conceived our second daughter almost immediately. It was an overwhelming surprise and a gift that again, I sometimes felt I didn’t deserve. But as excited as I was to decorate her nursery, to launder and fold all her tiny things, and select the perfect moniker, I also was starting to feel guilty.
The decision to have a second child started to feel less like something we had done for us, and more like something we had done to my older daughter. What would become of her charmed life as an only child? She would no longer be the center of our worlds. I couldn’t believe I had done that to her.
When the baby was born, my then-two-and-a-half-year-old took to big sistering better than I had thought she might. She was gentle, loving, and excited. Sometimes she was too loud. Sometimes she was too wild. Sometimes she was so needy I felt I might break. I had a newborn, and my hands were so full. My time used to go all to my oldest child, and now this tiny new human’s big needs were taking up most of it. It was hard.
But our older daughter was patient and flexible. We gave her little “jobs” and she flourished . She fetched wipes and pacifiers and started taking her naps with me in the afternoons. Her life changed, but soon we could see it was for the better. My big girl was learning how to be more than just our daughter. She was a big sister, and that role mattered to her.
Two years later, it has become increasingly clear that we did not make a mistake giving this girl a sibling. My daughters are not just sisters, but truly best friends.
Big Sister loves teaching her little shadow all the things — from colors and shapes to how to push a chair quietly across the kitchen floor in order to reach the sugary snacks that Mommy has tried to hide.
They fight, sure, hard and mean. There are tears and tantrums. Days that drone on for far too long. But the bulk of my girls’ time together is spent in friendship. Creating fantastical truths about the bugs that live in the crevices of the bricks on our front porch and whispering to each other about what to draw with their driveway chalk. Daydreaming about fairies and learning about slide etiquette, the hard way, together.
They are a force. They hold hands in the playground and ask for each other when they wake up. I love watching them play, inventing their own worlds in the living room. Building forts, chasing each other and yes, making messes. Conspiring against me in fits of giggles that reverberate from their lamplit shared afternoon “nap” to my home office where I try to eke out some work on the world’s shortest break.
There are still trails of crumbs crisscrossing our floors and many sleepless nights. There are hard moments, and there are times I wonder if I’m cut out for all of this. The inside of my car looks like a Target exploded and no one ever bothered to come by and clear the wreckage.
The inside of my heart, though? It couldn’t be fuller or more at ease.