The Forgotten Child

I remember the night I left to have Mac. Contractions building I couldn't help but have this ache in my heart for Caitlin. My first born, whose life was about to change in countless ways. Who's world with her mama (perhaps a clumsy one when it came to motherhood) was about to be more complicated than she already knew. Soon she wouldn't be the only one competing for mama's time and attentions. Soon she would have a sister.

I cried as I quietly crept into her room and kissed her softly over and over on her head. Cried as I grabbed my bag and my sweater in the middle of the night. As she dreamed of waking up to Nick Jr and cookies for breakfast, I cried big hot tears because I knew.
Our lives were going to change.
 
Would it be for the better or for the worse?
 
I'd say it was a draw. One day I was her mother, finally finding my footing as a mom, and the next day I was a mess. I spent two nights in the hospital, my first two nights completely away from her, and then when I came home, I brought company. Company who wasn't leaving. Those first few weeks after Mac came home, was like me trying to learn how to walk again. Slow and unsteady as a mother of two, I had more moments that were for the worst, than those that were for the better. And as the days past, I felt my oldest child growing further and further away from me.
 
Is it possible for your own child to sometimes feel like a stranger? Like you know everything about them, and then nothing at all at the same time? I have those days. Where I look at her and wonder if I know her even a little. When did she become such a stranger? And how do we find each other again?
Sometime last month, I had to drop her off at school. Without walking her to her line, like I usually do. She was upset, but because we were running late and little sister didn't feel so good, she agreed. But it was the way she agreed, saying that she would try and be brave with a little quiver in her voice that spoke volumes. I was asking too much. My expectations were perhaps too high.
 
Sometimes I expect so much of her, forgetting that she is just six, almost seven. Can I remember what I was like at seven? Not really, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't brave, I'm sure I did my fair share of crying, and I'm pretty positive my mom bent over backwards for me. But some days I forget that she is only six, because she picks out her clothes like a tween, and she wants to wear her hair like Selena Gomez. She watches YouTube makeup tutorials and then coaches me as I put on my makeup. I forget that she is still little because she rides her bike down the street, and checks the mail on her own. I forget because she can be so big and so little all at the same time.
 
So that day last month, I dropped her at the curb. Committing the cardinal sin of school drop off, I got out of the car and walked her to the gate. I kissed her cheeks and on the top of her head, I hugged her close, and I thanked her for walking to class on her own. She held back her tears and put on her brave face and walked to her line. I watched just for a moment and she did indeed look so small. And so alone, and all I could think of was that she has become the forgotten child.
 
But I haven't forgotten. How do you explain that to a six year old? How do you explain to a six year old that you miss her. That you feel like too much time and too much space has come between the two of you. How do you mend a relationship with a six year old that doesn't even understand relationships. 
 
It's guilt. I know that. It's all the nights I spent wishing for her to be a little older. Wishing that as the months passed she would sleep better and eat better. Telling myself that one day there wouldn't be night waking and two am feedings followed by four am feedings. That one day she would be able to tell me what she needed, and one day she wouldn't need me so much. It's the guilt of wishing she would be more independent, and then realizing that as we are gaining independence we are also growing apart. Because for all those times I felt trapped, for all the times I couldn't wait for her to grow up, now I'd give everything and anything for a do over. For one more sleepless night, for one more chance to be present in those moments that almost broke me. I'd love the chance to do better.
 
A few nights ago I confessed all of this to the Hubbs. Tearfully, I admitted that I really wanted my daughter back. That I wanted to be the mother that I know she really wants. I admitted that I think it's too late to fix it. That I'm too late to turn it around. He told me that it's never too late to start over. And reminded me that, in the past I've been known to do anything I set my mind to. That includes motherhood in case you are wondering. 
 
I'm trying. With every hug and every kiss. Trying to make every day a good one, even if it's really a bad one. I tell her that I love her, show her I love her, and remind her that she is my first baby, my girl, my sweet and wonderful Caitlin. Because I could never forget the child that made me a mother.
 

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