We are a rare breed, you and I: we are mothers who decided to have children close in age. We fantasized about our children being best friends, a built-in support system and family for life. We dream about our children attending school – siblings sticking up for each other on the playground or consoling each other after a rough day. We dream about them playing side-by-side and loving each other as siblings.
All of the above is absolutely true – every word of it. However, it’s on a layaway program. We have to pay for it up front to see the results in the end.
Yes, when having two small children so close in age, we are required to pay for it all in advance to reap the rewards of our labor. Having two little ones roaming your world is not twice as hard; it’s exponentially harder. They both desperately require you to meet their every need. You are their world, their epicenter.
I remember lying in my living room after another sleepless night, surrounded by burp cloths, (what felt like) hundreds of baby toys, pacifiers scattered like garnish on the floor and Sesame Street blaring from the television. My husband was deployed to Iraq, I was rocking my daughter’s swing with my toe while my son was dumping yet another bin of toys I had just put away when it hit me . . . and I panicked.
Oh, this is not what I imagined when I decided to have two children. No! This is so hard! This is harder than any day I ever have had working for the egocentric but brilliant attorney who happened to be the mayor of Las Vegas (he was not the easiest boss, to say the least). I want to go back to work!!!
Like any other woman and military spouse, I rallied with resentment. I grabbed the chaos by the throat and began to slowly put order back into my life. It seemed to get a little easier with each week and growth spurt.
Something changed. It was the first morning my daughter had slept through the night without so much as a peep. The creaking of her door woke me. It was my son. He had crawled out of his crib and opened his sister’s door. I was horrified at first by this fact, but I was more curious to know why he was in his sister’s room. I tiptoed out my door, down the hallway and peeked into her room.
My son had reached through the crib slats to put his hand on her head, and then sat down next to her crib silently playing with a stuffed animal and flipping pages in a book. Oh my goodness. He went into her room to see her and to say hello, to check on her. I wholeheartedly believe he was worried because she wasn’t awake yet, a change from every other morning before. At that moment, I realized he loved her. And at the moment, I made my layaway payment without resentment. It was all worth it. All of it. The spit up, the noise, the mindless baby toys, my lost career, my crazy military lifestyle. It was all worth it to see my son, a toddler, understand that this baby was his family, his sister, his best friend and his playmate for life.
Today, my little ones are in elementary school together. They rarely argue (lie, bald-faced lie), they share adventures, toys (white lie) and friends happily. When one loses a tooth, s/he immediately wants to share the excitement with the other. And when one falls down, the other is there offering a hand and a word of encouragement. My cup runneth over. I have paid off my layaway order in full and am now enjoying the benefits of being a mother of two who are close in age.