Last night I did something terrible. I did the thing that no mother is supposed to ever do. Your sister asked me if I love her more than you, and I said yes.
I know, I know. You’re going to hold this over me forever. But it’s not even true. That thing that everyone said would happen about my heart expanding to easily and simply love you both happened. It’s just that I miss your sister sometimes these days. She’s growing up so fast, and these last six months with you here have been such a big change, and last night in her room, at the end of a big party and a long day, I simply wanted her to know that I love her more than I could possibly ever explain.
Except I thought that by answering yes to that question, just maybe I could explain it. So I said yes.
The funny thing is that I’m glad I said it now, if only because of what happened next. At first she smiled and looked at me and nodded. She pursed her lips in this smug little way, and for just a moment she look satisfied. But then she looked down at your little head, resting in slumber on my chest and she shook hers, raising her eyes to meet mine with a new determination. “No, mom. You love us both the same. You love Jules.” and she reached out and stroked your soft, downey hair, smiling as she did so.
In that moment I realized that I knew nothing about love before I had the two of you. Nothing.
I’m writing this letter my dear, because you are six months old. Well, at least I meant to write this letter to you when you were six months old and now you’re just a week or so shy of seven months. But such is the way of our life right now. A few things here and there seem to slip through the cracks, but over all I think we’re doing pretty well. Life as a family of four is all you’ll ever have known, but I have to admit that it took some adjusting on our part.
The last year was a big, crazy, wonderful, hard one and your entrance to it was part of all of that. Now that I’ve done it twice, I’ve decided that it’s just not easy to bring a new person into the world. It requires an incredible amount of time and energy and love and commitment, and sometimes the houseplants die and the cats get depressed and you forget to write letters on the exact day you’re supposed to. But we wouldn’t want it to be easy, would we? Then none of it would matter so much.
And you, my little dear, matter so much. It all matters so much.
My absolute favorite part of your life, and your time with us so far, has been watching the relationship between you and your sister develop. It’s something I never could have imagined. I’ll probably tell you and Veronica this so many times that you’ll be rolling your eyes at me in no time, but I didn’t have siblings growing up and it just blows my mind in a thousand ways to see you two together. What an extraordinary gift. I can only think that my life would have been infinitely better had I had a sibling to share it with. I can only think that you will be forever lucky to have each other.
I know you’re going to have times where you detest each other and wish you were an only child, but I hope the love between you will always be there. I told you that story at the beginning of this story in hopes of revealing to you just how much Veronica loves you. I mean really, she’s three and a half and definitely the most selfish, self-centered person I know. She doesn’t care when myself and your dad are sick or when we’re working or trying to do something. It’s her, her, her, all the time.
Except when it comes to you. When it comes to you she has all the compassion in the world.
But enough about your sister. More about you.
You are the cutest baby in the entire world. Seriously. I think all babies are cute but gah, you just kill me. You have fat little thighs and bright blue eyes. You have the sweetest downey blond hair that I call your duckling fuzz. You smile with your whole body when you see me, your mouth breaking open in this big silent grin, and then your whole little being squirming in response. You have long fingers and soft cheeks. You gurgle and coo and babble and your Dad is oh-so fond of your funny low voice.
You’re just on the verge of crawling, but haven’t gotten there quite yet. You have one little tooth coming up on the bottom, and you’ve been very vocal about how much pain it’s causing you. You’re pretty good at taking naps, but very good at sleeping in bed with me all night — something that I’ve let you get away with for too long now. But oh it’s sweet. I love snuggling with you, love waking up to your happy little face, your eyes shining in the dark dawn of the morning at me, your warm little body scootched up to mine under the covers.
You’re wildly clingy right now, wanting to be held by pretty much only me, although you’ll let your dad take you some of the time. But oh, you love to flirt with everyone, even reaching out as though you want them to hold you. And then the minute they do you twist back around for me, breaking their hearts just a tiny bit. Everyone wants to hold a sweet little dumpling like you.
Listen to me going on. Would you believe me if I told you that I’m not a baby person? Really, I’m not. Before you girls I didn’t care one wink about babies. I could walk into a room full of them and not even notice them. That’s changed a bit, although I mostly just have eyes for you and your sister. I’m soaking up this time with you both, feeling frantic how short it will be, this time when I get to hold you both close, when I pick you up and press you to me.
I’m taking you to Atlanta with me this weekend. Just you and me. Veronica will stay home with her dad, and you and I will fly to the place where I grew up. I’m besotted with anxiety and emotion about leaving your sister here. I haven’t been away from her in almost a full year, and I feel quite nervous about dividing our little family up, if even for four days, but I also think it will be nice to have some time just the two of us. I know you’re a tiny baby, but I want to show you where I was born, where I grew up. I want to whisper all the things I’ll think about as we travel through the world together.
Babies are funny. I feel like I know you, yet I don’t know you. Now that Vera is a little person I can look back on her at six months and I can see that she was who she was all along, just in the same way that you are already who you are.
Anyway, happy half a year my sweet little snack. These are my thoughts, my confessions. I’d rather you know all the parts of your mother, the good, the disappointing, the mistakes, the aspirations, and all the happy accidents that make up my parenting you.