We were driving home from dinner, my husband and I in the front seat of the car, both girls in the back. The little one had been sleeping since we'd left home, so we knew we were already on borrowed time before we heard the whimpers start. My husband and I glanced at each other, silently assessing how long until we would be home, how long we had until she erupted into screams.
BG had different ideas.
"Mommy, pick up this baby! Mommy! This baby needs milk!"
Ever since I got pregnant, I've worried about how to do right by everyone. Someone, it seemed, was sure to get shortchanged. Would big sister be forever heartbroken at the loss of my undivided attention? Would little sister always get less than what her big sister got? How could this be fair to anyone? What had I done to my poor little girls?
But, for the most part, it hasn't been that way. My big girl asks for her little sister every morning when she wakes up, right after asking for mommy and daddy. She points out when it's the baby's turn, protectively hovers when the baby is crying, offers toys and blankets at any opportunity.
My little girl kicks happily by herself on her playmat, seems to enjoy a little alone time in her swing, but also gazes intently when her older sister puts a face three inches away from hers.
And sure, there are times when it's hard. When BG says, "No mommy! Daddy take baby! I take mommy!" or wants me to twirl RIGHT NOW while I'm feeding. When my little one decides to start screaming hysterically right when I need to put her sister down for a nap, when she Will Not Be Put Down at a time when the two year old is FINALLY asking to use the potty. When I don't know how to be in two places at once, and I feel like I'm ripping in half because I can't make everyone happy.
But yesterday, when I was winding my big girl down for her nap, and she had just started to melt into me on the couch, the baby started whimpering. I knew she'd want to eat soon, but I wanted to put her off just a little so I could get her sister to bed, so I started shushing and patting her.
Her head laid against my chest and without taking her eyes off Daniel Tiger on the TV, BG reached across me. She crooked her index finger, pressing the second knuckle to her sister's lips. The baby opened her eyes wide, opened her mouth to gently suck on the offered finger, and stopped fussing.
"Oooh, baby sister," giggled my eldest. "Baby sister kiss me."
I think what I'm giving my girls is more than enough.