There was nothing remarkable about daycare drop off this morning. Most mornings if we arrive before 7 a.m., I leave both girls in the same classroom where they remain until Hannah’s teacher comes and gets her around 7:15. Leaving Madison every morning is clockwork. I help her take off her jacket, lean down and tell her to be a good girl and have fun, give her a kiss and then off she goes. Hannah is a different story. Some mornings she scampers off with her big sister. Other mornings she clings to my shirt for dear life. This morning, she decided to mix things up and roll around on the ground trying to force herself to cry.
I attempted to pick her up and any parent who has a toddler knows what happens when you try to pick them up mid tantrum. She stiffened up every limb, arched her back and tried to propel herself out my arms. I could feel myself getting frustrated, not wanting to leave her screaming but also in no mood to wrestle with a tantruming toddler before I head off into rush hour.
And then like the little mommy that she is, Madison walked up to her little sister, grabbed her hand to help her up, gave her a hug and then off they went to play. I stood there for a minute, waiting for one of them to look back at me to say goodbye, but neither did. They didn’t have to because they have each other.
Madison became a big sister two weeks shy of 21 months. And while she had the vocabulary of a 3 year old, she was still very much our baby. Yet still my heart aches a bit at how fast she had to grow up. We pulled her out of her room and even more importantly her crib at merely 19 months old to prepare her for Hannah’s arrival. She learned that yes, in fact, she was no longer the baby at an age where most parents are barely able to come to grips with the fact that their baby is no longer that and has moved well on into toddlerhood.
She has learned tough lessons that sometimes being a big sister means letting your little sister play with certain toys even if you had them first. She has had to watch everything that was hers suddenly become Hannah’s. And while yes, in the grand scheme of life giving her a little sister and a lifetime play mate was not the worst thing we could have ever done to her (we still have plenty of time to reach that milestone), it all happened much sooner than we had intended and therefore my guilt about it all always felt like it was on the brink of overwhelming.
Lucky for us Madison is our empathetic daughter. Our gentle soul who truly feels what everyone else around her is feeling. She has always been acutely aware of the emotions we wear on our face and sleeve and is the first one to offer a hug or blanket to make someone feel better. She is kind and she shares and she rarely questions us when we tell her to do something that is unfair because that’s life and Hannah doesn’t quite understand things yet.
She behaves like a child much older than three, and often times we lose sight of that. Expecting her to reason and understand like a child much older.
We are sometimes so quick to lose our temper with her. To ask her to do something without a complete and age appropriate discussion about why. She deals with a very head strong younger sister that knows the key to getting what she wants is taking and then screaming and while we do our very best to not reward that behavior…. sometimes the screaming has to be stopped so dinner can get on the table.
You would think that all of that would weigh heavily on a 3 year old. You would expect acting out and regression. I would even understand the pull to be physically aggressive.
But we see none of that with Madison. She was born to be a big sister. She has embraced the role of caretaker and accepts that sometimes giving up toys or not getting to play with what she wants comes with the territory. She is really special, our Madison and I hope someday her little sister realizes how lucky she is to have someone like Madison in her life.
My girls are complete opposite sides of the coin, yet thick as thieves. Exactly the way it should be.