I used to worry so much about Alyssa. When Olivia was born and had to be rushed to a bigger hospital, I worried about Alyssa feeling lost in the shuffle.
When Olivia came home and cried for months and months, I worried about Alyssa feeling betrayed that we’d brought this squalling creature into our home and disrupted her entire life.
I’d talked such a big talk when I was pregnant with Olivia. I told Alyssa that I had two arms to old two babies and that she’d always be my first baby, always be my love. I talked about how much fun Alyssa would have with a baby sister. Sure, I tried to prepare her for the infant months, when most babies are just lumps of need but Olivia’s need surpassed even the neediest baby we’d ever known. I told Alyssa that having a baby sister was going to be so awesome.
And then her sister came home and everything changed. Suddenly Alyssa’s needs weren’t the first ones being met each day. Her needs were met, but usually after we’d taken care of Olivia’s needs.
Yes, Alyssa never went hungry but there were times when I worried so much that she was being neglected, maybe just benignly but still neglected.
I tried so hard in those early months to hold her, to read to her, to comfort her when her sister was screaming. But it was so hard for all of us.
And I worried. I worried that Alyssa would feel like she’d been replaced by her sister. I worried that Alyssa would feel like we favored Olivia because Olivia was so, so needy for so long.
These days things have mellowed, Olivia’s needs aren’t any greater than anyone else’s in our house. We’re so incredibly lucky for that, I know. As her needs eased, I’ve made a point over the years to spend time with Alyssa, to talk to her, to remind her that she’s still a priority in my life.
I know it’s never going to be perfect but I’d like to think that most of us do our best most of the time.
I take comfort these days in the fact that Alyssa often asks me who my favorite child is. I always just smile and say, “You know I adore you both.”
Then she’ll grin, wink and say, “Yeah, I know you can’t admit that I’m your favorite, at least not in front of Livie. But we all know the truth.”
At that point, Olivia, if she's awake, will crawl into my lap and whisper that she knows she's my favorite.
I must be doing something right if they both think they’re my favorite.