The day your baby sister was born, you doubled in size. When you came to the hospital to meet her, you were taller and more grown up than ever before. You had dressed in your favourite clothes, a too small bright red dress that highlighted just how much you’d grown. A glittery headband was lost in the unruly mess of your hair. You looked tired and excited and in love. I asked if you could guess whether you had a baby brother or sister and you looked excitedly at the baby in pink before announcing that you had a sister. You said she was cute and you immediately whispered in her ear that you loved her.
You held her, that hours old little baby lay safe in your arms as you stared at her in amazement. You sat so still, you looked scared to move in case any harm should come to your baby sister. You looked so proud of her and so proud of yourself for finally becoming a big sister. She looked so small in your arms and suddenly you looked ever so big.
Now, when we walk to school, your hand feels big in mine. It’s no longer the little toddler hand that used to grip mine as we walked across busy roads. You are growing taller every day it seems, reaching up towards the sky. When I put you to bed at night, your head feels heavy against my arm. Only a month ago, you still felt so little to me, but becoming a big sister has changed all of that.
All of a sudden, you’re my big girl. You’re the big sister. The protector. The teacher. The leader. The entertainer. You long to play with your little sister, to teach her all the things you know, to keep her safe. You look after her when I leave the room and I hear you telling her you’re here when she cries. When I leave the changing table to grab more wipes, I come back to find you playing peekaboo with her over the side of the table. You sing to her and tell her about your day.
You miss her when you’re at school, and me, I hope. And your face lights up when you see her as you walk out of school. You come running over and stroke her back or tickle her feet, telling her you’ve missed her. You’ve been gone all day and we’ve missed you. You are a schoolgirl now and that means we spend the day missing you and wondering what you’re doing.
So much has changed recently. We were separated for a week when I was in hospital and that was hard for both of us. We’re not used to spending time apart, kid. We’re always together, me and you against the world. Every time you came to the hospital, it made my heart hurt because I so badly wanted to go home with you. And then, finally, your sister arrived. A little sister for you, someone you can play with, share secrets with and have blazing arguments with. You are so lucky, my biggest girl.
And then you started school and suddenly you were gone all day. Now your day is a mystery to me. I only know what you tell me. Very little. I know you eat sweetcorn for lunch. I’m hoping that’s not all they give you but finding out from you is impossible. You speak fast and traffic whizzes by on our way home and I don’t always hear what you say. Sometimes I catch it later when you tell your baby sister. You tell her that one day she’ll go to school too, and that makes me heart hurt again because I know you will both keep getting bigger and bigger until one day you are ready to make it on your own.
Though that will never happen, you tell me, you’re going to live with me forever. You’re going to marry your sister and we’re all going to live here forever and ever. And if you have babies, I will get to babysit them while you go to the pub with your friends. Because you always have your eyes set on the future. You’re already counting down to your birthday because you can’t wait to be five. And the days pass so quickly now that you’re in school, I know you’ll be fully grown in no time.