Enough To Go Around

  • 8/9/2018 4:09:25 PM

    One of my favorite parts of coming home is hearing shouts of welcome, especially from my sister, 16-year-old Amelia.

    So when I came home the other day and heard her shout "HIII!!" from the other room, I smiled.

    Then I felt a tiny pang of guilt.

    You see, I love bringing home little trinkets and snacks for Amelia: a muffin from a college bake sale, a cool poster for an upcoming play, some free swag promoting university football. It's not a daily routine, but it's often enough that I'm hyper-aware of what I bring home with me from school, even if it's as small as a funny story.

    When I came home the other day, however, I was toting a bag with day-of-birth items for the expecting parents and baby.

    It's not that I fear that Amelia will stop loving me if I don't always bring her home presents; often she's content enough with the two of us sitting on the couch, each reading her own book. I also don't fear that I love her any less with the new arrival on the way.

    What I worry about is how much mental energy I've spent in the last nine months trying to be the best friend I could to Jon and Lynn (whose child hasn't yet arrived) rather than trying to be the best sister I could be to Amelia (whose high school years are happening now).

    I already missed most of Amelia's freshman year of high school, since I spent a year living in my college town -- about a thirty-minute drive from "home." Unlike years past, I wasn't here for every choir concert or to help on homework assignments. There was never enough time on weekly visits to vent about the idiocy of high school cliques or the ridiculous amount of homework teachers give. And when I returned home this summer, I found myself a little further outside her sensitive inner world than I've ever been before.

    Although she won't tell you directly how she feels, the tender squeezing of her hugs when we see each other and remarks like "I'm happy you're home" in birthday cards tell me that she really, truly missed me. That gives me hope that we'll eventually return to where we were in our relationship.

    Yet, will my time commitments change once more when the baby comes? I'm delighted that Jon and Lynn plan to move closer to family (and coincidentally, to me!) later this fall -- but will that lead me to spend more time volunteering to babysit than to spend an afternoon with Amelia? Or, on the other hand, will my college schedule keep me at home or at school? I'll see Amelia daily, but will that limit how often I can see my niece?

    My greatest fear is running out of energy trying to spread the love around. A newborn and a 16-year-old have very different needs, and sometimes I wonder whether I'll fall short trying to give one or the other what they need.

    This is the perfect time to remember, "Hey, you DON'T have to give them everything they need! One is your SISTER, and one is your NIECE! You are NOT alone in this!"

    (And yes, to sink into my silly worried brain, caps lock is necessary.)

    One thing that's helped alleviate my fears is a Savvy Auntie article by Jaime Rochelle Herndon. She tells her skeptical niece and nephew that she doesn't love one better than the other. Like two hands, she can't imagine life with only one or the other.

    "That's the thing," she says. "There is always enough love to give. More than enough."

    No one could ever replace Amelia in my heart. And I know that once the baby comes, the little princess will create a new space in my heart that only she can fill.

    Scheduling time has always been somewhat challenging to me. But finding love in my heart to give? That comes naturally.

    It'll take practice, and I'm bound to make mistakes all over the place once the baby comes, but I feel more confident now that whether through gifts or time shared, I can let both these girls know just how much I love them.


    Read Jaime's article, "Both Hands. When a Second Child Is Born." here, at: