I found an old Polaroid that was taken at a baby shower given for my mother, just before she had my brother. She is sitting on a sofa, surrounded by smiling friends, opening a present. There is a half-eaten cake on the table, along with blue baby boy gifts and wrapping paper on the floor. And in the far right corner, 3-year-old Gabi in a little blue jumper hides behind a plant. And from the look on her face, she is pissed. Apparently, she knew what was coming.
Seriously. Three glorious years of being the adorable only child and then this little brat comes along, practically out of nowhere, and suddenly she is expected to share the spotlight, her toys and, most upsetting of all, her parents. Not to mention the fact that she was never consulted. I mean, nobody asked if she even wanted a little brother. A puppy would have been fine.
She felt replaced. Everyone wanted to hold the new baby, but Gabi was still little and still liked to be held. And the baby was noisy and annoying. And he made stupid gurgles or burped and everyone thought it was soooo wonderful. Gabi could do cartwheels! How come nobody cared about her cartwheels?
Of course, if you know me or at least follow my writing, you know that I eventually got over it. You know that I love my brother and would do anything for him. You know that my parents weren't actually trying to replace me and that they did, in fact, care very much about my cartwheels.
Something I'm learning right now is that to be truly happy, it's necessary to accept and love all your selves; your mostly well-adusted adult self, your angsty college self, your petulant adolescent self and, yes, your irrational three-year-old self. Because they're always there, always present. Things may be mostly governed by grown-up you, but every now and then, your younger selves show up and they want some answers.
You don't have answers. All you have is love, which is, as it turns out, what they really need anyway.