5-yr-old Annie Rose is a person of extremes. When I give her steak for dinner, or when I bring a cookie for her in the car after school pick-up, she emphatically proclaims, “You are the BEST Mama in the whole world.”
When I put her in time out, or tell her that no, she cannot have a third dessert after dinner (we won’t talk about the fact that there was a second dessert), then she shouts, “You are the worst Mom in the whole world!” I’m “mama” when she is pleased and “mom” when she is in a rage.
But this post isn’t about Annie Rose’s fickle approval. It is about her ability to make her older sister feel good.
About a month or so ago, after Annie Rose had declared yet again that I was currently the best mother in the world, Katie grew upset.
“Well, what about M?” she cried hotly. (M is her birthmother). “M is also the best mother in the world!”
“Yes, yes,” I soothed. “M is also the best mother in the world.” Katie ranted and raved for about ten minutes about how Annie Rose was wrong that I am the only best mom in the world, and that M is too.
Katie feels an incredible sense of loyalty to her birthparents. She has never even met her birthfather, yet she will include him in sweeping statements about the family, saying things like, “I have the four best parents ever!”
Ever since the night of Katie's outburst, if Katie is in the room, Annie Rose changes her profession of love to: “You are the best mama in the world and so is M!”
Every single time.
Annie Rose holds Katie’s feelings in her heart and in her memory, and she has never once failed to bestow equal best-mothering status on “M” in Katie’s presence.
Even better, Annie Rose is wise enough to know this is a one-way transaction, and she has not amended her angry statements to say, “You are the worst mom in the world and so is “M”! THAT would not go over so well!
I don’t really care if Annie Rose is lumping me into Best Mom or Worst Mom category at any given time. But what I do care about is her ability to think about Katie’s feelings. It makes her Best Middle Sister of an Adopted Sibling. And that status is constant, in my book.
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Carrie Goldman is the author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear and blogs about adoption, parenting, and contemporary culture.