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Maddie's Independence Day Part II: The Rest Of Us

So as I said yesterday, Maddie had her
first “school” day on Tuesday, and absolutely loved it.
She even asked to go back, and is heading in this morning for at
least one more session. And as sad as I was to see her growing up
and striking out on her own, I have to confess I was really looking
forward to some one-on-one time with Cora.

All spring as we’ve sifted through preschools and planned
Maddie’s fall, in the back of my mind I’ve been
envisioning these long, lazy mornings with just Cora to hang out
with. I so loved Maddie’s first two years, and the fun things
we did together just the two of us, and I’ve really been
craving some similar time with my youngest. I knew I’d miss
Maddie at first, but I’d quickly get into having only one
child to chase after and get snacks for and clean up after –
it’d practically be a vacation!

I also know that the temptation for me
will be to allow Cora to entertain herself, and try to get some
work done with only one child in the house. I’ll have to
really work against that, and make sure all of Maddie’s
school time isn’t taken up with errands and bills. Tuesday
morning, therefore, was specifically set aside as Mommy and Cora

I tried explaining this to Cora, but she didn’t quite seem to
get it; she was too involved with trying to mimic her big
sister’s preparations for gymnastics camp the next morning,
dragging a lunch bag out for me to pack and sifting through her own
gymnastics leotards. Everything Maddie does, Cora wants to do as
well. Which is why I left Cora at home with Gamma when I took
Maddie to gym camp.

This didn’t go well, as you can imagine; I left for
gymnastics without Cora (the betrayal!) and returned without Maddie
(the agony!) and I’m sure Cora will never let me leave the
house without her again. I came back home empty-handed, and a
bewildered Cora kept looking at the back door, waiting for Maddie
to walk in. I packed up a picnic lunch and we headed to our
favorite duck pond to spend a lazy morning.

The entire drive over, Cora kept asking, “Where’s
Maddie, Mommy?” “Gymnastics camp, honey. We’ll
pick her up after lunch.” “Ok.” Silence.
“Where’s Maddie, Mommy?”

The whole first part of the morning, Cora acted as if she’d
lost the best part of herself. Cora’s sun had been taken away
from her, and she didn’t know what to do: she was
off-balance, out of orbit, without a frame of reference to revolve
around. She kept looking at the empty car seat, or starting a
sentence and waiting for Maddie to interrupt her. I don’t
think it really sunk in that she got Mommy all to herself until
after we got to the park.

As we gathered our things and walked towards the pond, Cora turned
and said, “Where we go now, Mommy?” I gestured to the
duck pond, the fishing pier, and the play ground, and said,
“Wherever you’d like to go first! Where does Cora want
to go?” And I saw the lightbulb turn on in her little head,
and she was off to the races.

We spent a wonderful morning snacking and playing and swinging and
lazing by the pond on our blanket. After lunch Cora grabbed her
silky and we snuggled on the grass for almost twenty minutes,
simply staring at the sky and watching the birds fly by. She
gradually became restful, no longer looking around for her big
sister, happy not to compete for my attention.

When the time came to pick Maddie up, though, she was off like a
shot: “Cora, it’s time to go get Maddie!”
“OKAY!” she yelled, grabbing her lunch bag and running
halfway across the grass before I could even take two steps. Her
joy at seeing her sister again, and having her world set back to
rights, was palpable, and I treasure the evidence of how much she
loves her big sister. I was worried Cora would be even clingier the
rest of the day – get a sip of the Mommy elixir, then keep
begging for more – but she wasn’t at all. She snuggled
closely a few times, acting almost as if we shared a secret
together, and I loved her realization that we have our own
relationship apart from Maddie.

For me, I had a wonderful, restful time with only one child to
watch, no focus to split or multiple sippy cups to corral. I
enjoyed turning all of my attention to Cora and seeing what really
makes her tick, rather than seeing her under her sister’s
thumb- benign though Maddie’s rule (usually) is. So I look
forward to having more time with her in the fall, and digging
deeper into our relationship together.

Of course, by then, she’ll be over two years old and most of
our relationship building will involve at least one tantrum an hour
. . . but I’ll take what I can get.


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