How’s Bee adjusting? I mean, it happened so fast! Did she feel prepared? Has she regressed? Is she acting out, seeking attention?
These are the questions we receive from friends and family for a month. I answer truthfully – She’s been wonderful, so very excited to have a brother – but then I wonder if I’m missing something. The concern arrives so often, from parents far more seasoned than I am. Have they noticed a change? Can they sense something I can’t? Should I be bracing myself for a regression?
At night, I retreat into the depths of my mind, replaying our days, searching for signs that there might be something lurking under the surface.
Bee brings a coloring sheet to me, a family of three in crayoned hues of purple, red, orange.
A family of three. My mind begins to spin out a bit and I swallow hard, wondering if this is what our well-meaning friends warned me of. Does she feel lost, forgotten? Left behind?
It’s so lovely! I say. Can you tell me about it?
That’s you, and that’s Dad, and that’s me! she says.
So very cute! My shoulders tense. But where’s your baby brother?
Mom! I don’t know how to draw babies yet! she says with an eye roll and a smile, turning on her heels and heading back to the craft table to make a zoo.
I spend the first week wondering things. How is she doing? Did she enjoy her birthday, or was it overshadowed by his birth? Is this a normal adjustment? Am I asking too much of her when she brings the wipes, finds the pacifier? Should I have better prepared her for this?
I wonder the same for myself.
And yet, here’s what I know:
1. We are in this together.
2. That is all.
As we drove to meet Scout for the first time, I felt unprepared, nervous for Bee. I wanted to wake her from the backseat to tell her a million things: I’m going to be more tired. I’ll have less time to play. There might be more takeout. Things will change. They’ll feel different, but they’ll get better. You’ll see. Just trust us.
But I didn’t. This is Bee’s family portrait. I can’t draw it for her.
The very definition of preparation is “becoming ready.”
It is not “being ready,” or “getting ready,” or “the very act of readiness itself.”
It is becoming ready: the slow growth, the missteps, the process, the transformation.
And that is what Bee is doing, what we’re all doing.
We are becoming.
I have a tendency to overthink, to overprepare, to expect the worst so that I can be pleasantly surprised when everything falls just short of terrible.
I have, thankfully, not yet gifted Bee with this brain pattern. (Oh, there’s still time.)
And so, I will probably always receive her sweet, innocent drawings with a mild sense of irrational concern. I will always second-guess our conversations, always search for hidden clues in words left unsaid.
But that will remain my little secret – the wonderings, the questions, the doubt.
No need to muddy the waters of the becoming.
My answer now – six weeks in – to the great questioning of Bee’s adjustment is far more confident. She has adjusted marvelously, she is adjusting marvelously.
We all have. We all are.
People rise to the occasions before them. They are resilient, malleable, continuously meeting the demands placed in their path. It’s what life does to us – offering just enough fire to refine, just enough heat to bend.
Just enough warmth to adhere.
A few weeks ago, a new drawing.
There is a sun and stars, there is grass. There is a big red barn, two dogs – this one is Bernie, this one is George. There is a red ball on the ground, a few butterflies overhead.
And there are four smiling faces.
You learned how to draw a baby! I say.
It takes time, she says.
Becoming usually does.