When I was pregnant with Penelope, we did not find out the sex of our baby. We had found out when we were expecting Charlotte, and I wanted to do something different for baby number two. And though I would have been very happy to welcome a baby boy into our family, I was thrilled when the doctor announced, “It’s a girl!” at the delivery. A big reason I was so happy about it was because I wanted Charlotte to have a sister.
I love having a sister. It’s a such a special relationship. Even though Janice and I don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, we are still close. Now, it wasn’t always that way- we fought like crazy when we were growing up. “Mom, Janice is bugging me!” and “Mom, Julie won’t play with me!” were common refrains in our household. I wanted to play Barbies and Janice wanted to play dolls (obviously VERY different) or I wanted to read and Janice wanted to make crafts. And then, as we entered our teens, it was, “Julie wore my sweater without asking!” and “Janice is taking too long in the bathroom!” But that’s the great thing about sisters- you can fight and argue but you are still bound together. The shared experiences of your childhood- the road trips, the family gatherings, all the memories you make together- it all works to weave you together for life. As we got older, the fighting settled down and we grew closer. When our Mom died, we knew we could rely on one another for support and we grieved together. And now, with our children so close in age (and all girls) our bond has changed and strengthened again. My sister knows me in a way no one else does. I really wanted Charlotte to experience that sisterly bond.
I was prepared for Charlotte to be jealous of Penelope at first. I knew she might feel like she was being replaced or be upset over no longer having my complete attention. Having worked on the post-partum ward for awhile, I knew that sibling introductions do not always go well. But she came into our hospital room with the biggest smile on her face, and she has had a loving, compassionate attitude toward her baby sister ever since. And Penelope has started reciprocating that love that Charlotte has shown her. She is always reaching out for Charlotte, and her face erupts into the biggest smile when Charlotte comes over and hugs her and kisses her and plays with her. It is obvious how much Penelope loves Charlotte, even if she can’t verbalize it. And it is quite possibly the most rewarding feeling in the world. Seeing that sisterly love and that bond forming between them makes me feel like I am getting something right with this whole parenting thing.