I have written about my car at least a few times (actually more than I realized when I looked at the archives) on this site. I am pretty attached to Birdie as it was my first adult purchase. Birdie has driven with me across the country, helping me transition from Atlanta to Durham to Seattle to Natick with many stops in between. We had a few close calls where I was scared that the car would not recover and a few years ago, Birdie started to show her age. A few weeks ago, there was a horrible noise coming from the car and we found out that the time had come where the cost to repair Birdie was more than her actual value. Granted, I do not think that any monetary amount could measure the sentimental value. The time had come for me to let go of Birdie and get a car that was better for accommodating our growing family.
It has been 11 years since I went car shopping. At the time I purchased Birdie, I was looking for three big things: safety, reliability, and good gas mileage. I found all three of those things in a Honda Civic Hybrid. This time, we were concerned with safety and reliability, but also about space. We needed room for at least two car seats and space to accommodate grandparents and other visitors who are in town. We were so lucky to have research that J shared with us from his own car search process. I narrowed it down to a few cars to check out and went to dealerships armed with a stroller to put in the truck and my (at least to me) big belly with which I was going to get into the back rows of the vehicles. The process actually went much faster than I expected and a lot of the dialogue I had with salespeople focused on "mommy" cars. I thought that I would be really resistant to a minivan, but once I looked inside and saw all the space, I was awed. I also was impressed with the drive. The hardest thing to wrap my head around was walking up the vehicle and getting in; no offense to the many lovers of minivans out there, but I was not quite ready to full on embrace "the mom car image." When one of the salespeople told me that the minivan was a mom's dream car, I said that I appreciated that but I also wanted to be a hot spouse and wanted a car that would ease that transition. In the end, we got Big Red (a Honda Pilot) which is larger than the Civic and not quite as big as a mini-van. We put in both car seats and there is plenty of space. I filled the trunk to the maximum on a trip to Costco and did not feel like I should have practiced Tetras more to make everything fit. As technology has changed a lot in 11 years, Big Red is definitely fancier feeling than Birdie. While the car is safe and reliable, the gas mileage is not so good. I keep fighting the urge to put a bumper sticker on the back that say something like, "I recycle." I am sure adventures will come with Big Red and it will be nice to travel in one car when family comes to visit or there are events we would like to go to with friends.
When I went to pick up the car and had to leave Birdie behind, I had to fight back tears. In addition to adventures and transitions when I was single, Birdie has also been part of my love story with Partner. We had our first kiss in Birdie, became engaged, and took our mini-honeymoon from Seattle to Worcester in the car. When my water broke almost three (!!) years ago, Birdie was the car we drove to the hospital. While it does seem odd to be so attached to a physical object, I am thankful for my experience with the car.
I had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday and was told that I am basically full term which means that if I start labor, they will not stop me. I cannot believe that we are going to meet each other so soon. In some ways, I feel like I already know you. For instance, I know that you love food as you get excited and start to move whenever I seem to think about eating. You respond to people's voices, most especially your sister when she is saying hello or singing a song or telling a loud story. From ultrasound images, you seem both calm as you enjoy lounging and super active as it can be hard for people to find you to measure your heartbeat or get the correct view. You love afternoon naps, but are not so good at sleeping through the night.
When we found out you were coming and in the course of the first trimester, I felt like I was in major transition. Not just letting go of a terrible work situation, but thinking about my next steps and wrapping my head around the idea of your arrival. When we wanted a nickname for you, your Daddy decided on "Bud." We were thinking about a poetic version of this definition: "a compact knoblike growth on a plant that develops into a leaf, flower, or shoot." Thinking that you are something small that is growing into something new. After we started using it, I learned that Bud is also a term for some other things. Sigh, sorry about that. We have been obsessed with vetting names for you that pass both the playground brat and adult asshole tests; we think of every possible way a name can be butchered to try to save you from that stress. Neither one of us thought about checking the nickname we gave you while you were inside me.
I have had a lot of anxiety during our time together so far. The bar exam was incredibly anxiety inducing and stressful. However, I think that carrying you helped keep me grounded. I did not have marathon study sessions and you let me know when I had enough and forced me to do some much needed self-care. During the course of the pregnancy, I also got bitten by some unknown bug or creature which caused my face to swell. Fortunately, we found a treatment that was safe for both of us and while I have some scars, I am glad that there was no major long term effects. Sometimes, I feel guilty that I have not shown you as many wondrous things as I did with your sister. With her, I was at a job that gave me the chance to go to many exciting places and present in front of important people. With you, I have done a lot more figuring out and forging a new path. There has been a lot of self-doubt and worry about the future.
However, in these last few weeks, I have gotten to do something I did not get to do before: nest and rest! We have been thinking and preparing a place for you to sleep, bathe, and eat. We have washed and put away clothes. Our physical space is changing to make room for you and this makes me so happy. I am able to take a nap almost every day which helps to keep my energy up and makes me more present with your dad and sister. I hope that you are benefiting from this self-care and feeling my joy at the prospect of welcoming you.
In advance of your arrival, I wanted to apologise in advance for not treating you and your sister exactly equally. I have heard from several people that it is challenging to give the same attention and alone time to your second child. We will have time alone together and I will do everything I can to make you feel loved and treasured, but I know that it will not be the same as with your sister. One thing that you will have is the benefit of our experience. With your sister, your dad and I were so afraid and worried. We loved her with all of our might, but we were clueless and all of our motions had an underlying fear of messing up. With you, there is not as much unknown. We already love you so much and are excited to apply some of our experience. It is true that she made me a mother, but with you I already feel like a mommy.
Looking forward to meeting you.
Dear Little One:
A few days ago, I looked at the date and was startled to discover that you are 35 months old! In four weeks, you will be 36 months old or THREE YEARS!! I must admit to counting my pregnancy weeks obsessively; even though I am 36 weeks pregnant and know that our new addition will arrive within the next 2-6 weeks, your birthday marker makes the event seem even more imminent.
These last few months have consisted of a lot of preparation and transition. I took the bar exam again a few weeks ago. In the midst of hunkering down to study and telling myself that passing that test will be good for all of us, I felt so guilty. I missed spending time with you. In addition to showering you with sweetness and spending extra time with you, Daddy taught you to say "Mommy is studying the law." When I was home you would often study with me by sitting on the floor next to the desk, drawing or reading. While I was distracted, I also loved those moments. It made me feel like we were both preparing to do something tremendous together and, that as a team, we would not fail!
Now that the exam is behind me, I have been doing a lot of preparation for the little one to arrive. You seem excited about the baby in the sense you like touching my stomach, kissing the baby, giving gentle touches, and putting stickers on the baby. Sometimes, you like to show us your baby and rub your tummy. I have been trying to not "blame" the baby for my decreased mobilization as I do not want you to feel resentful and I want to still do as much as I can with you as possible. We continue to work on getting you to sleep in your big kid bed and toilet training. These transitions have included new adventures and chances for us to bond. When I read you stories on your bed, we have conversations about what is happening in the story. As you are falling asleep, sometimes you ask me questions or repeat things that happened during the day. We spend more time together in the bathroom and have discussions about underwear. I still need to find some red and black underwear for you.
You have been in preschool for almost two months and I feel like you are growing so much. You have a larger vocabulary and seem to be learning a lot. I am glad that you are happy at drop off in the morning and the highlight of my day is picking you up from school. When you see me, you smile and yell "Mommy" while running to give me a hug. I feel like such a celebrity and my heart feels so full.
The three of us have a bit of a rhythm together. While your dad and I are frequently thinking of and adjusting ways to make sure you are thriving, there are parts of being your parents that feels familar. As excited as I am for the new addition to arrive and for you to become a big sister, I am nervous about the change ahead and how we will all adjust.
When I became a big sister, I was a little bit older than you-- three and a half. According to my parents, I was very excited to welcome your uncle and bonded with him instantly. I do not have many memories of those early years with him. However, I do have some clear memories of growing up with him. There are challenges to having a sibling. We fought a lot and I definitely feel jealousy and resentment at the different ways my parents treated us. Even now, I have a hard time watching the interaction between them. In spite of all these difficulties, I do also have happy memories of playing with him and making up games together. We came up with a series of inside jokes that still have some significance today. Plus, he adores you so much. You two have a special connection and I imagine that when you get older with your own set of complaints about me, he will be one of your best allies.
Part of why I wanted another child is that I longed for you to also have a special set of stories and antics that are shared with a sibling. I hope that you have a special bond with your sibling that includes a lot of laughing, invention of a secret language, and adventures that will bring you joy for years to come. I hope that you will be close friends. I do not pretend to know the future or assume that I will be able to cultivate the perfect relationship for the both of you. However, I pledge the following to you:
- Even as I gush over the baby and am spending time away from you, know that I love you! While there are some things I am more confident about, you made me a mommy and even as a stumble to do right by you, my commitment, determination, and adoration to you is steadfast.
- I will try hard to not compare you and your sibling, to assign qualities to you or him/her. From my own experience, I know that we are all complicated and complex people. It is not fair to say that one kid is good and the other is bad or that one is responsible and the other is foolish.
- I will continue to try to model conflict resolution that is respectful with your dad, you, and your sibling in the hopes that you too will learn how to handle disagreements, not just with your sibling, but with people in general.
- When your sibling misbehaves, I will try hard to not say, "Why didn't you watch him/her." One of the things I resented most was trying to take care of my brother. He would not listen and I would feel shame fill my whole body as I got blamed for his misbehavior. I will do my best to prevent this for you.
- I will incorporate alone time for us and family time for all us as part of our regular routine.
- When I am stressed or worried about your sibling, I will try hard to not let that distract from celebrating your accomplishments or expressing my love for you.
- When you have complaints and frustrations, I will work hard to actively listen and respond.
I am sure that I am missing some things and that the list will evolve. As the only child chapter of your life comes to a close, I want to thank you for everything you taught me. You make me laugh, notice small things, and feel thankful for the chance to spend time with you.