Growing Pains: Becoming a Big Sister

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As I was nursing my newborn and trying to put him down for an afternoon nap, I heard my toddler daughter (3.5 years old) doing one of her favorite activities: singing a song she makes up about whatever she sees, is playing with, is experiencing, etc. But, this particular song hit me hard. Her adorable little voice was singing: “I don’t have a faaaaaamily. I’m all alone in my roooom because I have no familyyyyy.” Cue my heart breaking into a million pieces with instant shame and guilt flooding my soul.

Throughout my entire pregnancy, my daughter was excited to become a big sister. While initially disappointed the new addition would be a baby brother rather than the baby sister she so desperately wanted, Lula quickly got over that and proudly told anyone we came across that “there’s a baby in mom’s belly and I’m going to be a big sister!”

She helped me pick out baby clothes, started setting aside some of her toys to give to the baby, and enthusiastically workshopped name ideas with us. (Side note: she really pushed for 1) “Thomas” because she is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine and 2) “Cart” because “it sounds cute”…) I knew my sensitive empath was going to be the best big sister ever.

Big Sister meets her Baby Brother for the first time in person.
Big Sister meets her Baby Brother for the first time in person.

Fast forward to the end of May when Dylan was born. Since COVID limited who could come to the hospital, Lula first met her baby brother over FaceTime and her reaction was the epitome of sweetness. Ever since we brought him home, she’s always eager to spend time with him. Her level of compassion and the way she nurtures him so gently blew me away. Lula always begs to “babysit” him at dinner (aka have his bouncer right next to her chair), will throw away his dirty diapers without me even asking and will run at full speed to get a burp cloth if even the slightest dribble of spit leaves his mouth. I thought we’d truly hit the jackpot and were totally clear of any adjustment or jealousy issues.

But, alas, here we are. I had been noticing a few behavior changes in Lula (a little more sass, meltdowns, stubbornness, etc) but I chalked them up to her being a threenager amidst a global health pandemic where her favorite activities like going to school and playing with other kids were suddenly taken away from her. Her song helped me realize that even though she loves her baby brother and takes pride in her new role as a big sister, her needs aren’t being met. That she’s craving something that we’re not giving her to help her feel assured, loved, and secure in our new family dynamic. While I hope that song doesn’t become a smash hit in our household, I’m thankful she sang it. Whether conscious or not, singing that song helped Lula communicate the feelings she was having. And don’t worry baby girl, Momma heard you loud and clear and you better believe there will be lots of extra cuddles and love today.

Lula proudly holds her little brother, Dylan.

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