My dad died when my sister, Christine, was only 17. I was 21 and immediately stepped in as her protector. She never asked me to. In fact, as time passed, it became a source of contention.
Ten years later, I have gotten much better at being her big sister and not her mom. But, last week, she went to the hospital to have her first baby. When I knew she was driving to the hospital, I felt all those protective feelings rush right back and settle into the pit of my stomach.
My baby sister was about to embark on one of the scariest moments of her life so far – labor and delivery.
I paced. I ate. I prayed. I chewed the inside of my mouth. I texted my mom to find out she was doing much of the same. Thankfully, everyone was healthy and I now have a 7 pound, 11 ounce niece named Lux.
Even though they are out of the hospital, the concern still lingers. Christine has entered the world of the unknown – where everyday is a learning experience. She has now added the title of “mom” to her name, and less than one week in has already learned it will be the most difficult role she will ever play. How do I even begin to explain what that means? How do I prepare her for this journey? And, how do I help her?
I guess what I would say to her is this…
You will fall down.
There will be tears, mainly from you.
You will be so exhausted you won’t know what time of day it is or the last time you showered.
You will question everything you thought was true about yourself.
You will cry some more.
You will have a hard time balancing your own recovery and the needs of your baby.
But, you will also know what people mean when they say it is the most rewarding thing you will
You will laugh.
You will be happy for poopy diapers.
You will stare at your baby without it ever getting old.
Your heart will fill with more love than you ever knew possible.
You will become a protective mama bear.
You will feel complete.
The world is filled with people ready to give advice to my sister. If she needs advice, she
knows she can ask. She also knows I won’t be offended if she takes it or not. Even though I have been where she is right now, I’m not an expert.
In one week, she has had experiences I have never had. Heck, my baby is 4 years old and I cried just two weeks ago, feeling like a failed parent.
I can’t completely prepare her, but I can help her.
I can promise to be present.
I can promise to be a shoulder to cry on when times are rough and cheer along side her when things are great.
I can promise to babysit so she can nap.
Most of all, I can promise to love her and my sweet little niece until the end of time, hopefully without being too protective.
Melissa Cruickshank is married with one daughter. She works full-time. Read her here on momaha.com