It probably says a lot about where I am in my life that I get the prompt “Two Things” and my mind immediately goes to the Cat in the Hat.
My Thing 1 and Thing 2 are upstairs already tonight, curled up together in bed. When I found out I was pregnant with Thing 1, I was ecstatic – we had tried for so long, and I was more excited than I knew to be scared. With Thing 2, being perfectly honest, I alternated between happy and upset for the first few weeks. I knew what I had with Thing 1, and I worried about whether he would still feel loved, whether I would be able to be a good mother to him when she arrived, whether they would get along or if he would feel like he was being replaced, whether I would have the time and energy and attention for both of them and Manly and myself, whether I would ever sleep a full night again. He turned a year old two weeks before I got pregnant with her, and I was worried that they were too close.
After she was born, it was obvious almost immediately that my fears were unfounded. He came into the hospital room that day and took possession of her. He was fascinated by her, climbing from bed to couch to chair, person to person following her around the room. He demanded to hold her, gave her a kiss. She was HIS baby (and he still will let you know that). For the longest time, he wouldn’t let any of our friends’ kids around her, especially his cousins – he would push them away or try to carry her off, yelling that she was HIS sister. Over the last 18 months, they have slept together, nursed together, bathed together, played together, fought together, discovered the ocean together, delved into mischief together. Since they don’t go to daycare, they spend almost all of their time together, unless we split up on the weekends and each of us takes a kid to run errands. And even though they usually sleep in separate beds, whoever wakes up first in the morning comes into our bed, gets cuddles, and then goes to wake up the other one to join the family.
He has lately taken to telling her (especially when she’s upset or crying) “Is oh-tay, sisteh, me your big brother. Me take care of you.” He’ll rub her back, give her a hug and and kiss, and try to comfort her. For her part, she goes to him when he is in trouble and will kiss him on the head and keep him company in time out. The other night, Manly was tickling her, and she ran to Mini and ducked under his arm for protection. The two of them stood there, united, against their father and I couldn’t help but laugh.
At the same time, being so close, they will sometimes fight like cats and dogs. They get one juice cup to share each morning, because if they have two, they’ll pick one to fight over and the second one gets lost under the coffee table or in the couch cushions. She has been trying to wear his cowboy boots lately, which sends him ballistic. They steal candy and toys and argue over who gets to sit in mommy’s lap and they slap at each other like a comedy routine and kick and push and occasionally bite. I’m pretty sure that that will get better once she gets some words – they’re not trying to hurt each other, more like puppies wrestling for dominance in the pack.
I hope that they always stay as close as they are now. My siblings are much younger than me and we’ve never really had a relationship. At 33, I’m just now getting to the point where it doesn’t feel weird to call up my sister, and my brother is estranged from both of us. Manly’s siblings are more closely spaced, and much closer in day to day interaction. It doesn’t hurt that they live nearby and that we see them for dinner at least once a month. Seeing them joke and hang out and talk as a set of adult children, it gives me hope that someday my kids will be sitting at our dinner table with their kids laughing and reminiscing about their childhood.
I said once that I loved Manly and Mini even more together than I did separately, and Smaller has just added another dimension to that. She’s another layer of love that makes our family even more precious to me than the boys alone.