One Thing We Did Right

“Mommy, you’d just better be glad that you had Phoebe,” Mallory said a few days ago.

“Well, I am glad, but why do you say so?” I asked.

“Because if you hadn’t, I would’ve been stomping around the house every single day, so mad at you that you didn’t give me a baby sister.”

Admittedly, I wanted a second child mostly because I didn’t want Mallory to grow up without a sibling (which speaks well of my own siblings, doesn’t it?). I also realized, though, that whether or not you will have a good relationship with your sibling is largely a matter of luck and innate personality, no matter what the experts may say about child spacing and birth order and so forth. And, luckily, my girls do seem to get along about eighty percent of the time – not bad, really.

Mallory has always been impressed by Phoebe and Phoebe’s accomplishments. I remember how excited she would get when Phoebe met a milestone as a baby – held her own toy, sat up, learned to crawl. Now Mallory will sometimes share an indulgent smile or a conspiratorial giggle with me and Chris when Phoebe is being unintentionally adorable (telling herself a story, mispronouncing a word, twirling). The other night, when Phoebe said, “I know how to say brown in Spanish – café!”, Mallory was just flabbergasted. “Phoebe’s so smart!” she said. Then Phoebe said something about taking all of her young daughters to Argentina, and Mallory said, “How does she know about Argentina? That is so smart! Phoebe should be in the Olympics of Smart!”

Phoebe, on the other hand, appears less worshipful of her big sister than I remember being of my big sister – I think because Phoebe is so very…self-possessed? Self-sufficient? She doesn’t automatically want to do everything that Mallory does, or like everything that Mallory likes. But nothing makes her sadder than when Mallory won’t play with her, and nothing makes her more indignant than when Mallory accuses her of wrong-doing.

I remember sitting on the front porch one afternoon a few weeks after Phoebe was born. Mallory was playing in her wading pool – or rather, she was scooping up cups of water from her wading pool and dumping them out along the curb. Phoebe was sleeping in her carseat next to me. I was thinking about how I was now a mother of two, and reflecting on my fear – before Phoebe was born – of how I would manage to love them both. Suddenly I was just overcome with a wave of fondness for Mallory, for the familiarly of her and her three-year-old antics; and I realized how different that was from the fiercely protective love I felt for Phoebe, of whom, I admit, I was not that fond, in part because she was only three weeks old and not an easy baby, but mostly just because I didn’t know her well enough yet. I regarded my two girls and thought, as I often think, I just want them to be happy. And, I just want them to be happy with each other.

So far, that’s working out okay.


Anonymous said...

You certainly wouldn't want Mallory stomping around mad all the time - what a funny statement from her!

Cute pictures.


aimee said...

That was a sweet post. I am glad you had Phoebe too. And Mallory!