On lessons in retrograde…

 

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Little sisters: Annoying the crap out of big sisters since…forever (but they’re still kind of the best). 

The birth of our second daughter is looming large (as am I…holy crap, I feel GIGANTIC). Our first was born at 38 weeks and 3 days…that would be tomorrow if this one decides to make the same appearance. I spent a lot of time during my first pregnancy thinking and writing about all the things I wanted to teach Godzilla, both as a woman and as a human. Those 42 items still ring very true and I fully intend to teach them all to Mothra as well.

But this time, I’ve spent a lot less time thinking about the terrifying task of raising a girl in this universe and more about the task of both raising and keeping alive two friggin’ humans at once!  That, and about sisterhood.

I have an incredible relationship with my sister. Now. Growing up? Oh good lord, were we at each other’s throats a lot. We are very different people. Making us coexist in the same bedroom bordered on cruelty…to the two of us and to pretty much anyone else who lived in our house. I was such a jerk to her…especially when it came to doing my hair, which I was start at, like, 5:30am…in our room…with the lights on…giving zero f**ks that she was trying to sleep on the other side of the room. I once threw a hot curling iron at her (and missed…thank God, in that instance, for my lack of athletic prowess). I’ve thrown more than one high heel her way. And she just took it.

Until the day she didn’t.

I remember coming home from school one day, probably when I was in grade 11, and she had moved all of my belongings, bed and dresser included, into the old play room (which we called “the brown room” because it had brown walls and brown shag carpet). I was horrified. How DARE she move ME out of OUR room! It rightfully belonged to me, being that I was the oldest.

But she’d had enough of my shit. And if you know my sister, you know how far you have to push her to reach that limit. I’d earned her rage. I’m lucky she didn’t break everything I owned in the process.

But now? I can’t imagine having to do life without her. She is often my rock. She has gotten me through so much garbage in my adult life (it sometimes pays to have a professional counselor as a sister). She sees the good in just about everyone and everything. She’s funny. She’s endearing. She’s generous. She’s kind. She’s smart. Often, she is everything I wish I could be.

So I think about having a little sister and being a big sister, something that is about to happen to Godzilla. And I think there are things she needs to know that I wish I’d have known.

  1. Mothra is going to want to do everything you do, at the exact same time as you. Be kind to her. All this copy-catting means she loves and respects you.
  2. Mothra is going to drive you bat.shit.crazy. It’s her job as little sister. Again, just be kind to her. You are allowed to want to be alone. Just don’t make her feel inferior in the process.
  3. Mothra is going to blame you for things you didn’t do. It SUCKS when that happens. It will make you angry and make you want to kick her. I promise I will do my best to hear you out and make sure I have the full story. But all I can promise is that I’ll try. I’ll probably fail a lot.
  4. When she asks questions, take her seriously. She really does want to know what you think and where you stand.
  5. Encourage her to branch out and try new things. It’s how I got your Aunt JoJo to try sports and audition for show choir. Who knew she could play basketball and sing?!
  6. Say hello to her in the hallways at school. Acknowledge her. Hug her. Be that big sister. I didn’t always play nice with JoJo and I regret it. Especially because she was always nice to me at school.
  7. Go to as many of her events as you possibly can. Again, be that big sister. The one that’s borderline obnoxious with how much you support your little sister.
  8. Tell her you love her. A lot.
  9. Thank her when she helps you.
  10. Be her best friend.

Being a big sister is hard. There are a lot of responsibilities leveled against the eldest sibling. They take the hits more than they should. I think parents recognize they do this, but it’s hard to stop ourselves sometimes. The oldest kid should know better, right? Probably. But we eldest siblings take a lot. So, Mothra, here’s what I ask of you, as the little sister:

  1. Be kind to your big sister. Don’t purposefully be a jerk and don’t try to get her in trouble. Not cool.
  2. If Godzilla wants to be left alone, please just leave her alone. It will be hard, especially if she turns out to be in introvert (like me) and you’re an extrovert (like JoJo). You will want to be with her ALL. THE. TIME. But she might need time to recharge. Just let her.
  3. Don’t push her buttons. You’ll figure out what they are and they will become an indispenseable tool in your Little Sister Arsenal. Be cautious of when you use them.
  4. Be Godzilla’s biggest cheerleader. Be the one she knows she can count on no matter what. Be that sister.
  5. If she asks you to try something – food, music, sports, whatever – just try it. Trust her. She won’t make you do anything that will hurt you.
  6. Brag about her quietly. Somedays, she’s going to want to feel too cool for school and she might ignore the hell out of you. She’s not doing it to be mean to you; she’s doing it because she might feel like she needs to. We can talk about it together after school.
  7. Ask for her opinion. She really does want to think that you think she’s the coolest person alive. Even at nearly 40 years old, I still get excited when JoJo asks my fashion advice and political stances!
  8. Tell her you love her. A lot.
  9. Thank her when she helps you.
  10. Be her best friend.

Being a sister, big or little, is hard. There  are things both are asked to do that neither signed up for. But given a fair shake, sisters end up being the best friends a girl could ever ask for.

On eating it all up…

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Thanksgiving is nearly upon us and now that Mothra has finally eased up on me, my pregnancy appetite is finally starting to kick into high gear. With my first pregnancy, I craved a lot of really healthy foods…I drank fruit and spinach smoothies like it was my job (technically, I guess it was) and stayed far far away from fried food and general junk. It was great!

This time around, I have to manage a toddler’s manic gastric desires and that rarely includes produce these days. On top of that, Mothra seems to have taken a real liking to Taco Bell and Totino’s party pizzas. I’ve probably eaten a thousand pizza rolls in the last week. I’m sure that can’t be good more me or for her, but after five months of not really wanting to eat anything, I’ll take what I can get.

So it makes me quite happy that my appetite is coming back just in time for Thanksgiving. Even better is that we’re spending the weekend with my grandmother and that woman can put out a spread. It’s insane. To the point my husband gets borderline angry about the amount of food he has to prepare to eat. (As if he minds. My eyes are rolling so hard, I can see yesterday.)

Every day at Grandma’s house is basically the same: breakfast (usually toast, eggs, bacon, breakfast rolls, juice, and coffee) then some kind of mid-morning snack then lunch (something like tomato soup, grilled cheese, and a veggie platter) then a mid-afternoon snack then cocktails and hors d’oeuvres (I’m very upset about missing out on cocktails this year because Grandma has primo liquor) then dinner (Thanksgiving involves turkey, stuffing, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, salad, some kind of warm casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls, and wine) then dessert and coffee (pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies for Thanksgiving) and finally post-dinner/pre-coma cocktails.

I’m not even kidding…every single day is like that when Grandma has a brood at her house! It’s remarkable. I think she starts planning for the next holiday the day after we all leave from the current holiday. I don’t know how she does it! All I know is that it’s fun and it’s delicious and I will never care so little about my caloric consumption as when I’m at her house.

It’s not really about the food, though. Not entirely. It’s that I love being with my family. There are aunts and uncles and cousins around the table. We laugh a lot, we watch football and silly YouTube videos, we discuss whether or not to succumb to Black Friday shopping at 9pm or Thanksgiving night or if it’s all just too much (I have forever fallen in the latter camp; everyone else in the former. That may very well change this year because kids are expensive and Godzilla’s birthday is less than two weeks before Christmas so doubling up is no small price tag).

This is the last holiday I’ll have with any of my family for at least the next three years. Moving overseas doesn’t lend itself well to traveling home for the holidays inexpensively. I’m okay with it. It just means that this year, my heart is going to be more invested in the holidays than ever before. I’m bringing my camera and using it ad nauseum and without apology. Maybe I should be doing that every year.

I don’t know what your family dynamics look like, but whomever you choose to spend your holidays with this year, take a moment to step back and just look at what’s happening. Enjoy the company of those you choose to share your table with. Take mental and physical photos. Eat too much. Play games. Remember what the holidays are supposed to be about and do your part to make it so.