For two weeks now I’ve been trying to write a post about the girl. Our relationship is so complex and convoluted and she’s still just a baby. I don’t get it. I thought that maybe by writing about it, I might be able to work through some of my thoughts and feelings.
But the words just won’t come.
I love her. Dearly. But if a gun was put to my head and I was told to choose between my two children, the choice would be an easy one. And it shouldn’t be. That worries me.
It terrifies me.
Part of the problem is that whenever she cries, even if it’s just for a moment, I’m pulled back to her earliest days when the crying was incessant and I feel like all the progress we’ve made is meaningless. Then she stops crying and I see how foolish my reaction was. But it doesn’t stop me from reacting the same way the next time she starts to cry.
I get frustrated with her so easily. I get mad at her so easily. And I hold a grudge.
She falls down off the slide, and I’m more aggravated at the fact that she was behaving recklessly than I am concerned that she might have hurt herself.
She cries for me to stay in her room till she falls asleep at night and I refuse. Why? Out of principle? The notion that I should be training her to be independent and not need me? How ridiculous is that?
The other night, I was lying with the boy in his bed (yes, I see double standard there, thank you very much) listening to her cry from the other room. It was so loud we heard her both through the adjoining wall and through the open window. And for the first time, I noticed the boy was covering his ears.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I don’t like to listen to her cry.”
At that moment, I took a step back and tried to get a grasp on the situation. Why did my son feel more compassion for his sister than I felt for my daughter?
And this wasn’t the first time. When she threw a tantrum in the elevator at daycare and refused to get up off the floor, I walked away. He was the one who ran back in, took her by the hand and coaxed her out. When I get fed up with her for refusing to put on her jacket and threaten to leave without her, he says, “No, Mommy. Don’t say that. Come, Sistah, come.”
And the next day, when I got to daycare to pick them up, I found him waiting at the bottom of the slide. He was on his knees with his arms resting on the landing.
“Whatcha doing, Buddy?” I asked.
“I’m waiting for Sistah. I don’t want her to fall down anymore.”
And sure enough, there she was at the top of the slide, waiting for him to get in position before she came down. It looked something like this:
It’s so simple for them. They just have their basic needs – to be looked after, loved, fed, comforted and protected. And when he saw that I wasn’t pulling my weight, he stepped in and took over.
I realized how lucky I am. Lucky that I have a son who is willing to take care of his sister until I get over whatever shit I’ve got going on and grow up. I also realized how deeply I had failed both of them, leaving her to her own devices and him to clean up the mess. It’s so not fair to either of them.
They’re the children. I’m the adult.
Why is that so hard for me to see?