Over the summer, we saw a distant relative and family friend. She has two grown daughters and gave me a piece of advice, Make sure Daddy doesn't forget about Little Sister. She became visibly upset telling a story that happened more than twenty years ago. Her husband grabbed their oldest daughter as he left to run some errands. As he loaded the toddler into the car, the barely-1-year-old sister stood at the door and cried, "Me, too, Daddy!" And waddled around in tears the whole time they were gone.
"I told him about it when they came back," she said. "He was dumbfounded! He admitted he 'hadn't even thought about bringing her.'"
She went on to explain her husband and older daughter had always been two peas in a pod. Whether it was because of thier personalities or simply the fact that she came first didn't matter to me because I knew both those things were true for Gracie and McMister. The two of them have a bond no one will ever know. Their hearts beat to the same drummer. Their souls have been matched forever. Watching them together is feels like getting a glimpse into a secret club you know you'll never be a part of, and that's what makes the club so cool.
So where does that leave little Lyla? Will they have the same connection? Will she be forgotten at the front door?
Up until recently, it hasn't really mattered. Newborns and young infants are infatuated with their moms for good reason: FOOD. And love and affection that many dads sort of have to work at until the little ones start to ever-so-slowly whittle away at that mom-baby bond and become their own being. Their personalities develop further, and they start to want to play. And no one is better at playing than Dad!
McMister said his goodbyes on the way to work today to everyone in the room except Lyla. It goes without saying he didn't mean to leave her out, he just didn't see her sprawled out on the floor beneath him. As he walked away, she screamed and started army crawling toward the front door after him. She squeaked and squealed and screamed and scooted until he finally turned around and realized it was all for him. He apologized, scooped her up and kissed her. In an instant, she whipped her head around to the rest of us and gave us the smuggest look of "Look who's got his attention now!"
When Gracie was 8 months old, this never would have happened. It's not McMister's fault at all; it is most certainly an effect of being the second child. In no way am I saying anyone who loves our girls loves Lyla any less because she's the second child. The reason is something I've heard people talk about, but never understood until now: it's because we think of the second baby as a baby for so much longer. The term "baby of the family" is much less literal and much more meaningful than I thought.
With the first, you're so focused on them that you notice everything more quickly and more intensely. You know every look, every expression, every movement. So you really get to know them sooner.
Then they get older, turn into a walking, talking toddler in our case, and you have another baby. Now the newborn seems so much smaller, so much younger, like you have so far to go to get where you are with the first. Lyla is the same age now that Gracie was when we moved into this house, and that fact blows our minds. Gracie seemed months older than Lyla does now. Her personality seemed so much more obvious, her character so much clearer, her traits so much more defined.
Maybe that's why time seems to pass so quickly with the second. How can Lyla be 8 months old already? She was just born! How can the calendar be hinting at her first birthday already? She's just a little baby!
But our little baby is growing up. I find myself thinking countless times a day now how much I love her. Not because she's my baby. But because she's her. She's cuddly and serious and hilarious and loves Gracie to the moon and back. She's a baby, but she makes her voice heard! She babbles all day long and yells those mamamamas and dadadadas if we're not looking often enough. She loves looking at the dogs, listening to Gracie laugh, and touching frilly things. She's perfection.
McMister sees it, too. Not a day has gone by in the last few weeks that he hasn't said something about it. Something about our lovely little Lyla growing up.
We may want to keep her our little baby forever, but she's not having it. Our second baby is becoming our second child faster than we can believe.