My first back to school lesson

I almost lost it on my two-and-a-half-year-old today. Okay, I didn't "almost" lose it. For the first time I can remember, I actually yelled at Stella. Like, yelled-yelled. She's my chill kid, the one who changes her own pull-up and can spend hours on the swing set, but today she turned into a new creature. Nagging. Whining. Basically, her sister.


She was just sobbing for no reason. I gave her the stickers. I was playing dentist. She had two snacks already. Seriously, bro, you've got all your teeth already and you pooped. YOU SHOULD BE GOOD.

In a huff, I took a breather in the kitchen. I'm used to the big one never being satisfied. You surprise Bee with a milkshake and she wants to know where the sprinkles are. I mean, I love both of them to death, but Bee's first day of school today was a welcome relief. Now it was just me and the little easy, peasy one to while away the last of summer. Surely Stella would draw on the porch with chalk half the day while I sat on my fat butt and cracked a book. That's what life with one child is like, right? She'd busy herself in the yard or catch a little Bubble Guppies and I'd kick back with a mocktail and throw a load in the wash every few days. Simp! The big bird was under the supervision of two Catholic school teachers seven hours a day. Time for this mom to reeeee-lax.

The largest part of our life is Bee. She walks in a room and everyone's at attention. She's constantly switching up the action. Markers! Popsicles! Now bubbles! On Dora! She runs poor little grinning Stell around the yard in races with ever-changing rules. She pushes her up the tree house for secret meetings. Bee casts the roles of Princess One and Princess Two, which is usually about the time I hear a scream that it's somebody's turn with the crown and SHE WON'T SHARE, MOM! Or maybe that's when I hear a thud, followed by a wail and someone gets a lecture on not standing on the bed or being gentle or taking turns.

I refereed this drama all summer, always with the same culprit. So what's Stella's deal all of a sudden? Then it hit me. The unbearable lightness of being. The same peace that left me feeling a little empty was affecting Stella too. Our Bee was gone. The cruise director was retired for the season. I think back to just two days ago when they each had a little cart to push at Trader Joes and how they thought they were in heaven, weaving around the aisles collecting onions and coffee creamer. Can't I just have that moment forever? Why does time have to go forward at all?

My daughters love each other. I hear stories of siblings fighting or really hating each other, or growing up to simply not be close and I secretly don't relate at all. Bee and Stell are the macaroni to each others' cheese. One without the other would just be a bread sandwich. Dude, they hold hands in the car. I don't know why. I can't take the credit. They're just in love.

I swooped Stella up in my arms and buried her little crying face in kisses. "Do you miss your sister?"

YES MAMA! I MISS MY SISSY! And she let out a howl that got my shirt wet. I told her it was almost time to go pick up Bee and besides, soon there would be another sister in the mix to keep her company. She patted my belly and then ran to get her shoes.

I guess two-year-olds don't just cry to annoy us. You mean they are little humans with feelings and relationships just like people? Wow, I feel like it's my first day back at school. Lesson learned.


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