I sat at the dinner table opening the mail from the day. My birthday is approaching and each day this week has brought a new card in the mail — striking more excitement in my near -year-old than in me. I opened the pink envelope, pulled out the birthday card and two gift cards dropped out of the bottom. Excitedly my daughter said, “Where are they to mama, where are they to?” I smiled and said, “one to your favorite place, and one to mommy’s favorite.”
She looked at me, eyes beaming with excited hope as she said, “Mommy can we use your gift card to go to breakfast, just me and you, without daddy and without sissy?”
Her face is etched in my memory as I write this, she had such excitement, hope, and eagerness in her eyes, and she was smiling with the biggest grin.
I said, “Absolutely, how about you and mommy head out early Saturday before dance class to get breakfast.” She began to wiggle a little happy dance in her seat at the table — she was smiling so big.
As if she needed concrete confirmation she said, “and it will be just us, daddy will stay home with sissy and it will be JUST US?” I shook my head to confirm, her arms shot straight up in the air with an excited, “YES,” and she wiggled her little happy dance a couple of seconds more before she began eating the yogurt I placed before her.
Sometimes I forget it used to be just her.
In the joy of having two girls — both I love, both I desperately want to spend as much time as possible as a full-time working mom — I forget she was my girl first.
I forget that for almost five years she was the center of our universe. She was a miracle baby when we were told we may never have one, we relished our time with her.
I forget for five years as I tucked her in bed I asked her, “Who’s my favorite girl?” She would smile beaming and say, “Me mommy!”
I forget that my lap was always open for her.
I forget that every girl’s day out was just the two of us.
I forget she was tucked in by mommy and daddy every night.
I forget she was always the one to sit next to me on movie night.
I forget, for almost five years she was my one and only girl.
I forget for five years she was my favorite girl.
Now my lap is often occupied by a baby who still needs mommy to rock her.
Now the seat next to me on movie night has to be shared by two.
Now my husband and I have to take turns tucking her in because we have two bedrooms with little girls to give kisses, hugs, and pull the blankets up snug.
Now girl’s day out looks different, we have three of us instead of two.
Now she doesn’t hear the question, “Who is mommy’s favorite,” because now there are two, now there are two girls who take equal space in mommy’s heart. Two girls who will never hear from my mouth either is more loved or more cherished than the other, two girls who are both my favorite.
For five years I was hers and she was mine.
I now see, while my heart doubled with love, she maybe feels sad that she has to share the love.
I can now see that even though she is the kindest, most attentive, most loving big sister, she still misses the time when it was just her.
I will do my best to make time for just her, so the moments in her mind when it was just us will not just be a memory from the past.
This piece originally appeared on Faithfully Falling, published with permission.