This picture is reminiscent of a story I’ve been told, not a memory I’ve acquired. Yet my response is visceral, like smelling something that slams you back into the past.
My oldest two are 4.5 years older than baby Willow, the exact same age gap I had with my sister. My mom told me once that my sister used to feed me while she cooked dinner, and I wondered how that was possible. How could a 4 year old be responsible enough to feed a baby?
And then I saw it happen.
Willow was crying, and I was trying to finish some scrambled eggs. Lily picked up the bottle, popped it in the baby’s mouth, and flashed me an extraordinary grin. It allowed me a minute or two to finish the eggs, throw them on plates, and serve the girls before grabbing Willow.
It was like reliving a memory I didn’t have. It stirred up feelings in me. Questions about my sister. She and I had a complicated relationship, but I knew she loved me in the best way she could.
Envisioning her smiling face as she bonded with me, took care of me was powerful. Even though I often felt like the older sister in our relationship, it made me wonder if there was a time when that wasn’t true. A before era where the innocence of childhood had not yet been stripped away by the realities of adulthood. A time when she was strong and whole and happy.
It was a heart wrenching moment of wondering. Wondering if things could have turned out differently. All while cooking my scrambled eggs.
These moments come out of nowhere, like scents from the past, eliciting pain and wonder and joy. But as moms, we’re not always afforded time to process in the moment. Sometimes we have to keep cooking breakfast, so we find other ways to share, connect, and feel a little less alone.
Thank you for bearing witness to my experience. When we share space, suffering feels less painful, confusion less muffled, and love more powerful.