Today I realized that my youngest daughter, Rabab Fatima, is the same age [17 months] that my eldest [Ridha Zaynab] was when we welcomed Rabab into this world. I’m not sure why it is so hard to fathom. Seeing my walking, talking toddler now, it just seems unreal.
I don’t know about you, but despite our efforts, we always end up comparing the two. It is not with any negative intention, just more of a natural thought process that we go through each time our littlest one completes a milestone. When Rabab took her first steps, we remembered the time Ridha began walking. When Rabab started to climb steps, we thought about how much sooner Ridha did it.
The Big Sister
Ridha has always been quick to learn and grasp, sharp and even matured faster than I ever expected her to. She has naturally taken on the role of big sister at the tender age of two. It wasn’t long ago that Ridha barely glanced at her little newborn baby sister. She pretty much ignored her for the first month of her life. But now, she loves to command her little sister to do things, help her to walk or sit down, share her food and sometimes even her toys. Now if I could just get Rabab to be more accepting of this new sisterly love…
These two words are forever etched in my mind. My girls are 17 months apart. 17 months ago, Rabab was born. 17 months have passed since then. And it took me 17 months to finally realize all this. Just kidding. It’s a slow thought process, one that I have internalized for the past year. My kids are growing up fast, and there’s really nothing I can do to change that. All parents feel the same way. And all we can really do is cherish the moments, seize the days and try to focus on all the yummy memories we share with them whilst they’re still little.
Just the other day, I was at a party and Ridha [2.5 years] was giving me a hard time, demanding to be carried in my arms, and I struggled to while wearing fancy heels. I was getting tired and frustrated, and I turned to two mothers whose kids are all grown up, and I frantically said “I can’t wait for them to just grow up!” Of course as soon as those words left my mouth, I regretted it and thought I didn’t really mean it that way. But yes, in that moment, I just wished for Ridha to be an age where she did not need to be carried.
Both moms smiled and told me how much they wish they could turn back time to when their kids were toddlers and babies, and how having older kids doesn’t alleviate any problems. Instead the challenges evolve and become more substantial and exhausting. They encouraged me to enjoy this time, and not feel overwhelmed. That time doesn’t wait for anyone, and they’ll soon be out of our reach and we’ll be aching to hold them in this way again. And I know that they’re right, I felt every word they said to me.
A Gift from God
I never had a sister, but always wished for one. When I had my first daughter, I wished nothing more than for her to have a sister. I watched my sister-in-law have two boys 15 months apart, who at the age of 4 and 5 are now each other’s best friends. I saw her struggle to care for both in infancy, babyhood, toddlerhood, etc. I watched her run from one room to the other, bottles in hand, to soothe one child as the other cries in the next room. Yet, I wanted to have the same. I wanted to have children who’d be close in age, so close that they wouldn’t even remember a time without each other.
And now more than ever, I see how truly blessed I am for having two daughters so close together. It is so natural for them to think of each other. Because that’s how it is now. It is never one and not the other. We rarely use their names alone in a sentence anymore. It’s always Ridha and Rabab. And they know it too.