On 4

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.

  • I love this so much. I sometimes create problems in my head in an attempt to fix things that haven’t even happened! (sigh, that is a lot of mental work). I think you’re right, we’re all becoming and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how amazingly well my three boys have handled change, big change. Thanks for putting it all so beautifully yet again!

    • ha, a lot of mental work indeed! i do this ALL the time! here’s to trying our best NOT to read between the lines and predict the future. ;) biggest hugs, friend!

  • I love you. I love your message and the way you deliver it; steady, measured, exquisitely vulnerable and honest. I am so, so very happy for your family to be thriving. So beautiful, Erin.

  • I’m so very happy for you all!! And while our situation is quite different, we’re still adjusting to it, four years later. It absolutely takes time, but we’re in it together, and that is all we need to know. Thank you for your beautiful words, as always.

  • I found you, via Design for Minikind, not too long after having my own baby, and wallowed in your stories of motherhood and Bee and stuff. While I wish I was again following along as I held my own new baby, that’s not the case this time but these emails of motherhood and Bee (and Scout!) are still just as sweet. xoxo

  • Lovely. I’ve commented that adoption is on our radar, if medical help doesn’t give us another child. But either way to baby 2, our daughter will most likely be 4 (or older) when it happens. She changes her baby dolls diapers, feeds them, burps them and gently puts them to bed before announcing we should all be quiet. I can only hope the transition, whenever it may happen, is as perfect as yours. It takes time but you can tell Bee is a great big sister already.

    • oh, she will be the loveliest sister in her own way. i’m so very thrilled for you, eleanor!!!! sending love to you in the waiting. :)

  • Your writing, as always, brings me to tears while simultaneously stirring wild applause and a comforting sort of joy in my heart. Simple eloquence. You know how to make words dance and offer insights that resonate deep within as an exhale of “yes! that’s absolutely it!” Thank you for sharing your gift and your story with us! Your children are so lucky to have such a thoughtful, intentional mama. Congratulations on the arrival of your son!

    • oh jenny, i may be sleep deprived but this comment made me teary. thank you for your encouragement and support!

  • “I have, thankfully, not yet gifted Bee with this brain pattern. (Oh, there’s still time.)” This made me laugh really hard. :-) but the rest of your writings make me quiet and move me.
    I must say our son had problems adjusting, but it’s not like we could have prepared for them. And he was 2, that’s just a difficult age I guess. Luckily they really really love each other now.

    • oh i love hearing this, liesbeth — kids have a way of growing into each other, even despite rough starts at times. what a sweet family you have. :)

  • This. I just found your blog the other day… I think I’m in love. Thanks for sharing your heart. My little man adjusted SO well, too. REALLY well. I felt guilty sometimes, thinking I didn’t spend enough time with him… but he’s so very independent. Doesn’t need Mama for much, except to put his socks on & change his diaper. He waves “Bye” without tears when we go on a date.

    There is such a beauty in just letting life happen. Stepping back, & watching your little one accept a new family member. The change is amazing. Stunning. Enjoy the sweet new member of your family.

    • OH Kate, such a kind note to receive! And yes, I have that same little independent spirit in my first, so the transition felt really very seamless all around! What a gift!!! Sending big hugs your way, friend!

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