Until Amanda was 5 1/2 years old, she was an only child. I enjoyed being able to focus on her in those preschool years. The ages of three, four, and five are so full of wonder and excitement, and yet they also zapped me.
Amanda was a talker (she still is a talker).
She wanted to know "why?" and when I told her "I don't know," she got upset and insisted, "You do know." She thought that "Mommy Who Must Know Everything" was simply holding out on her by not revealing why they changed the lineup on Nick Jr. or how thunder and lightening happened.
It takes a lot of mental energy to keep up with an inquisitive preschooler, and many times I just need a bit of quiet.
I am so glad that Amanda became a big sister when she was five. She was so helpful with Baby Kyle. She made him laugh like no one could. She's almost like a third parent at times. He will often turn to her instead of us for help or with an exciting announcement ("Look, Amanda, a cow!").
For some reason God blessed me with another chatty preschooler. To the talking and the spunk that his big sister had, Kyle also possesses a bit of drama and high energy. Because he's a second child, I think everything is also intensified as he competes for attention with his sister and strives to keep up with her.
Amanda really wanted a sibling, but now that she's a tween, she sometimes balks at Kyle's attention and just wants to be left alone.
She got her wish. Amanda stayed on in Virginia with her grandparents for the week.
This week I've seen what Kyle the only child would have been like.
Setting a table for three is different. I remember those years with Amanda. Amanda started school the year Kyle was born, so he too has had his share of undivided Mommy attention, but the afternoons and the evenings usher in a more frazzled Mommy that they both have to contend with.
One child is simply easier. There's less fighting, less whining, fewer sandwiches to make and glasses of milk to pour, so I am better able to act like the kind patient Mommy that I should be regardless.
We'll meet my in-laws halfway to pick Amanda up on Saturday. She's had a great time getting that special one-on-one attention from grandparents, aunts and uncles, and her cousin. I have enjoyed having just Kyle (and I haven't missed the bickering for one moment), but her absence is strongly felt.
I miss sharing a smile with her over Kyle's zaniness or mispronunciation of a word. I miss having more girl-power in the house than manliness. I miss her help (unloading the dishwasher is getting really old), and I miss being needed by another child.
Kyle misses her, and he informed that Blankie misses her, too (which surprised me because I didn't think that Blankie and Amanda interacted very much).
Having one is easier. I am too short on patience and kindness in relating to my children (who do tend to try my reserves with their larger-than-life personalities), and having one allows me to dole it out more freely. I know that motherhood has refined my character like nothing else. Actually it's revealed my character (flaws) and showed me what I need to refine and let go of.
I wouldn't trade either one of God's refining fires. I'll be happy on Saturday to set another place at the table, dole out another portion at mealtime, and break up the sibling squabbles that will probably commence shortly after the dramatic reunion occurs.