One of the most frequent questions that Andy and I receive from people, mostly people who either have 1 or no children, is how we share our love with each of our children. As parents, you usually have the first child, and your entire life changes. As the Grinch experienced, your heart feels like it grows. You find yourself infatuated with this tiny person, trying to capture their every move or noise in your memory or to print. You forget what life was like before that child, and you spend your time alternating between joy and worry about this life, safety, and future. I have said before that I do not believe in love at first sight, but many people do experience this with your child.
With all this love, devotion, and time given to one person, how do you share this with your second child (or third, fourth, fifth, etc.)? I have talked to people who are baffled at how you can divide your love, as if your love has a maximum capacity and is already spent by your first child. Maybe it is because I grew up in a large family or because I have never felt this divide, but I was never worried about this with my children. I knew from my childhood that your love is not divided – it just grows. No matter how you bring a child into this world or into your family, you love them. Plain and simple. I wish there was a better way to describe it or to explain how it happens.
Why am I thinking about this question that perplexes parents? Because I miss my oldest. She flew back to our families in the Midwest for a good chunk of the summer, and I was so happy to send her to spend quality time with the family we always live so far away from. I feel very lucky that we can financially afford to give her this time (it was the best delayed birthday present she has ever received). I knew that she would be gone for awhile, but I also knew that I have 3 other children to take care of and to keep me company. It wasn’t forever, right?
She has not been gone very long, and I miss her, more so than I thought I would. I miss her presence, her interactions, her help, and just talking to her. Yes, I can call her. Yes, my mom send frequent pictures of her. She is having a fabulous time, and we are just fine here. But this gave evidence to that truth – you do not divide or share your love for all your children, it simply grows, although I feel like I am missing a part of mine right now. Each of my children are unique and with their own personalities, and no one of them can replace the other. So while one is away, being spoiled rotten and snuggling all her new baby cousins, I await her return – holding that place in my heart for her from afar.
This just shows that as cool as I think I am, I’m going to be a wreck at college drop-offs. 🙂