Last night, about 20 minutes after I put the two year old to bed, she started crying. Not a whimpering, whining, trying to get back downstairs kind of cry, but an actual cry of distress. Tears even.
I handed off the baby and went back up the stairs, opened her door, and turned on the light.
"Mommy mommy mommy."
"I'm here, honey, what's wrong?"
"I'm right here, baby. Are you okay? Does something hurt?"
She put her hand to her neck. "Tummy hurts."
"Your ... your throat hurts honey? Your neck?"
"That's your neck. Does your neck hurt?"
"Oh!" she laughed, her eyes still only halfway open, and lifted up her shirt. "This tummy. This neck."
"Right. So does your neck hurt?"
"This tummy. This neck. Eyes. Mouth. Nose."
"Okay, sweetie, so nothing hurts?"
"Head. Head shoulders knees toes."
And as she burst into song, I kissed her and said goodnight, gracefully slipping out the door, leaving her still singing in the room behind me.
It's hard to be mad at her when she's so charming and funny. Or it's hard to be amused and charmed when she's so maddening. I haven't figured out which yet.
Whether something hurt or not, my sweet big girl didn't sleep very well last night. She woke up as many times as little sister who, let's face it has much more right to it. And so the two of us spent the morning in a constant state of being alternately furious with and gushingly attached to each other, while my poor sweet baby spent the morning trying to protect her head from her excessively affectionate sister and staring at us like we were crazy.
Which, as I've said before, fair enough.
I spend a lot of my morning yelling at my toddler, and at least as much time apologizing to her.
When BG goes down for her nap every day, my little one wakes up and looks around. I'm sure that I'm imagining the relief, that I'm projecting ... right? I nurse her and I hold her on my shoulder and stare at her face and I apologize to her. I tell her I'm sorry that I don't pay more attention to her. Sorry that big sister gets so much of the spotlight, that she's Big in more ways than age and size. Sorry that mommy is that way too, with All. The. Feelings. All. The. Time.
And she just stares back at me.
I don't know if I'm getting this right. I don't know how to keep them both happy, how to make sure everyone (including me?) gets what she needs. I think maybe I can't. And I want this post to end like all of my posts do, with some wise sounding pat answer, like "and maybe that's okay" or "but I'm trying and that's enough." But I don't know. I want to do better. I just don't know if there is really any way to do better.