I remember chatting with my friend Christie one afternoon while I was puking my way through my second pregnancy.
“Don’t worry about not having enough love in your heart for both of them. It’s so weird; you think you couldn’t possibly love any child as much as the first, right? Trust me, when you see that little face it’s like a whole new space that you didn’t even know you had, opens up in your heart. They’ll each have their own dedicated space, totally equal.”
I’ve never forgotten that conversation, especially on mornings like the one I just had.
Oh, you didn’t think I was just writing to check in, did you?
So this morning- this glorious, serene morning of mine.
About 10 minutes into our commute I realized that I was only hearing Vince’s chirpy, chatty voice from the back seat. Glancing in the mirror, I saw Grace’s “this is my angry face” expression burning a hole in her window.
“Are you mad at me?” I asked.
She was mad. The one who had refused to use the toilet and instead defiantly peed in her diaper while standing in front of me (potty-training is going SUPER well, in case you’re wondering). The one who wouldn’t let me change that wet diaper before we got in the car. The one who started wrestling with me and folding herself in half to keep me from reaching said diaper. The one who had, as soon as I gave up and took a step back, flung herself backwards against a wall and then yelled, “Why did you hurt me?!” loudly enough for my neighbors to hear through the most sound-proof of windows.
SHE was mad.
Want to hear the funniest part? As I peeked at her through the mirror- lip slightly extended, arms crossed, lids lowered just slightly, brows furrowed- my heart fluttered a little bit and I had to bite my lip to stop myself from smiling.
She saw my contorted face in the mirror and giggled.
“You have any flamingo (mango) mints??” she asked nonchalantly, uncrossing her arms and flopping her foot onto Vince’s leg.
And just like that, she was over it.
Look up “Spitfire” in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of my daughter- see also “Stubborn” and “Determined to have things her way.” The tenacity that she exhibits at this age is more than I’ve managed to harness in my 35 years.
And I love it.
So I may love both of my children equally, but the love is definitely…different.
Vince is my comfy, safe space kind of love. He can’t wait to share all of his triumphs with me. He seeks me out for comfort when he experiences hurt or failure. He jumps into my bed every morning and asks if we have time for “a cuddle buddle,” then wraps his arms around me like a vine and falls peacefully back to sleep.
Vince is my steady love. I know when I have a bad day he’ll be on his best behavior to make it a little bit easier. I know he’ll always want to dance with me, laugh at my ridiculous jokes and share his car snacks. I know when I walk into the room wearing so much as a new t-shirt he’ll gasp and say, “Wow, Mommy, did you just get that? You look beautiful!” and actually mean it.
Vince is my nurturing love. He’s the first one to ask if I need a hug when I look even the slightest bit upset. If I decide to recline my seat on the couch (on the rare occasion that I get to sit on the couch), he bolts out of the living room and returns with his biggest, fluffiest pillow “so you can rest your head and still see the tv.” He praises every meal I put on the table- not to brag, but I have been told I am the best peanut butter and jelly maker In The World.
When I look at Vince, I’m filled with a pleasant, warm, fuzzy feeling. He’s my old soul, my constant friend and the one who makes me feel like I must be doing something right to have a kid like him.
When I look at Grace, I’m consumed with a jittery, expectant feeling. She’s my firecracker, the one that keeps me on my toes and makes me strive to be a more spontaneous, think-outside-the-box kind of mama.
Grace is my anticipation kind of love. Will she run over and fling her arms around me at daycare pickup, or stick her tongue out, tell me, “I’m not READY!” and run away? Will she lie in my arms and ask for “just one more book?” at bedtime, or take her sippy cup and her blanket and tuck herself in? When I hear Vince squealing, is it because she’s tickling him or kicking him in the face? (I’ve walked in on both…)
Grace is my sneaky love. Just when she’s thrown all the tantrums my blood pressure can handle; just when the tears start to streak down my face as I hide in the bathroom; just as I start angrily rolling meatballs in the kitchen and take a silent over/under on the chances I’ll survive her teenage years; she pops up behind me, throws her arms around my leg, yells, “I just love you, Mommy!” and bounces out of the room.
Grace is my exciting love. Watching her face light up when I buy her a dress, flip flops or blue nail polish that resembles one of mine “so we can be twinnies Mommy!” makes my entire day. I giggle right alongside her when she jumps up and performs an impromptu “Hop, hop, hop like a penguin” dance for everyone in the room. I can’t help but crack up when she crawls onto my lap, rests her head next to mine and sweetly whispers, “I’m farting on you right now.”
So yes, I definitely love them an equal amount. Neither of them has a bigger piece of my heart, I can promise you that. But I never knew that “love” could mean so many different things until I met the two of them. Because of them I get to experience every emotion on the spectrum, every color of the rainbow and every stage of heartburn imaginable. I get to enjoy warm, cuddly love and unpredictable, exciting love. I’m surrounded by sweet smiles and mischievous smirks; soft, long hugs and firm drive-by squeezes; “I love you so much, Mommy,” whispered in my ear and “You know you love me Mommy!” shouted from the next room.
I may have told Christie that I believed her that day, but I admit I was still a little nervous about figuring out how to share myself once I became a mom of two. Little did I know that not only did I have enough love to go around, but that it comes in more varieties than Ben & Jerry’s has flavors.
So here’s to safe, comfy love; crazy, impulsive love; and the little humans who open all the nooks and crannies of our hearts that we never knew existed, just by loving us.