My baby boy is due in a month.
Of course, I’m worrying about the little guy’s health, labor and delivery, and how I’m going to lose my baby weight. But I also can’t stop wondering how my daughter is going to adjust to sharing the spotlight.
For four-and-a-half years, Mara has been our princess. We dote on her constantly and have probably spoiled her a little bit.
If you’re familiar with the scene in “The Wizard of Oz” when Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man are being pampered before seeing the wizard, you have some idea of what it looks like when my husband and I get Mara ready to go somewhere.
But that’s all going to change when we bring home our little boy.
I wonder how I will find time to read Mara a story at bedtime when I have a crying baby in my arms. What will Mara think when she sees me rock the baby to sleep, something that I did with her until she got too big for my lap?
My husband and I have tried to prepare her for the new arrival, and my pregnancy has already helped her to grow up in some ways.
I stopped carrying her, unless absolutely necessary (although Daddy indulges her when she asks). I make her pick up her toys and clean up her own messes, chores I hadn’t enforced pre-pregnancy. And she has gotten better at dressing herself, which is a big help.
These changes didn’t come without struggle, though.
When my belly started to grow and my back began to ache, I told Mara that she needed to walk down the stairs, instead of being carried. For weeks she refused, standing at the top, crying and demanding that I carry her. I’m not sure how long it took for the tantrums to stop, but Mara now holds my hand as she walks down the steps each morning.
As for her messes, we’re still looking for the cure to a mysterious “illness” that seems to overcome Mara when she’s told to clean up after herself. “My arms are tired,” she tells me. “My legs are tired of walking.”
Within minutes, though, I can find her climbing on the back of the couch or running around the living room, so I don’t think it’s a serious condition. Eventually, she gets around to picking up her toys, but it takes many reminders.
Thankfully, not everything has been a struggle. Sometimes, Mara surprises me, in a good way.
When she goes with me to checkups at the “baby doctor,” the nurses give her stickers. Instead of pocketing them for herself, she puts the stickers on my belly, saying they’re for her baby brother.
Before she goes to sleep at night, she gives my belly a hug and a kiss.
Sometimes, she crawls onto my lap (what’s left of it anyway) and tells the baby a secret. Then she puts her ear to my belly and giggles, as though he told her a funny joke in return.
When I see her interact with her brother, even at this early stage, I’m comforted.
And I know there will be enough room in the spotlight for both Mara and our little boy.
Kara Eberle is editor of Smart. Sign up for a free subscription to the magazine at www.smartmamapa.com/subscribe.