I'm not sure exactly how old I was when the role of Big Sister became so etched into my identity. But I do know that although I was quite bossy and all-knowing amongst my siblings as we grew up, I have come to feel a bit less Big-Sister-ish as Mary, Jay and I became adults. In fact, amongst the three of us, I am the least educated. But I still leap at any opportunity to feel like I can slip into the Big Sister role once again.
So when Jay and Michelle announced they were pregnant, I was suddenly filled with new purpose. I felt I had wisdom to impart. (And I REALLY love imparting wisdom). I sometimes get so excited, I can overwhelm folks with the wisdom I want to thrust upon them, so I have to really hold back the wisdom sometimes. Reign it in, if ya know what I mean.
Their little baby boy was born a little more than a week ago, on June 11th. He was teensy tiny and oh so beautiful and I wanted so badly to go visit him. So Mark and I arranged a day when he could stay home with the kids and I could go alone. I got in the car that Saturday around lunch time and became lost in contemplation as I drove to their condo. (I was so lost in contemplation, I missed my exit and had to take the scenic route...) In fact, it wasn't contemplation so much as fantasizing about how Big Sisterly I would be when I arrived. I would swoop in, a picture of calmness and experience, and help out in all the right ways. I'd prepare some food, clean the apartment, do some laundry, ... all the things that experience had taught me was what a couple of new parents need when they have a one week old baby.
And I was almost anticipating the moment when, during my visit, little Nathan would get fussy. 'Cause if there's one thing I know a lot about, it's fussy babies! I've read the books. All the books. I've lullabyed and patted and danced and walked with fussy babies. I've used soothers and my pinky fingers and I've used rocking chairs and swings and vibrating baby chairs and slings of all sorts. In fact, I even rehearsed how best to say to Michelle and Jay, when Nathan got all fussy, "I got this!" I didn't want to step on anyone's toes. I wanted to be respectful of their authority as parents. But I have read The Happiest Baby on the Block three times and I can do the five S's. I can swing and shush and side-lie and let 'em suck and swaddle! BOY, can I swaddle! Yes, this is one thing that Big Sister has wisdom about. Sure Jay might know how to design aircraft. And sure Michelle knows all the actions of all medications and possible side effects. But I've survived in the trenches of colic and crawled out the other side. I've even been through 1-2-3- magic and the terrible two's. I was greatly anticipating being able to finally feel USEFUL, really, really useful for a change.
And when I arrived at their condo, Jay and Michelle looked serene and calm. Much to my horror, their condo was clean and tidy. The laundry was all done. The fridge and freezer were stocked. Supper was prepared.
I saw my nephew for the first time and adored him immediately. He was so tiny and had velvety skin softer than anything I'd ever felt. And I got to hold him, even though he was drowsy. He stirred a bit when I was talking, perhaps a bit too energetically, and I said, "Oops, am I being too loud?"
And Jay reassured me, "No, we want him to wake up. He's been a bit too drowsy and he has to eat."
And I looked down with adoration and complete astonishment at this little babe because, although I have an arsenal of wisdom and experience with babies that fuss and whine and scream and even shreik, when it comes to babies who sleep too much, I got nothin'.