Beginning in October, we joined my two nieces in keeping track of all that we had to look forward to in the upcoming months.
“Next comes Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then New Year’s and then? What comes after the New Year?”
“Baby sister!” my nieces said, or “baby cousin!” my kids said, or, once we knew her beautiful name, “Baby Becca!” we all said.
And then suddenly…
…and I find myself taking down the tree, the cards, the stockings…thinking back on the gatherings, the food…the time with family and friends…wistful even for my husband’s work party with its surprisingly raunchy rounds of charades.
I think about all these things and I get a little sad.
We’ve been so busy being Christmas elves, as I say to the kids, baking cookies and delivering them to the neighbors, baking bread and delivering it to our friends, addressing Christmas cards, making crafts, opening the little boxes on the advent calendar my Aunt made…
And it wasn’t just December that went fast. Apparently as a Mom September-Jan 1 move at only one speed—warp.
And then everything comes to a halt.
Perhaps not the eleven-foot Extreme Coaster Santa left in our basement, but the days and weeks and months until spring move slowly.
After the holidays I’m left feeling like I have nothing to do, even though organizing toys, unpacking from trips, and tucking away leftover bits of wrapping paper and red and green yarn could (probably will) take most of January.
“It’s on to summer!” my mom, a retired teacher, always says this time of year. And I agree, trying not to miss the Christmas music and egg nog too much.
But this year, when I get lost in the post-holiday void, all I have to do is remember that any day now Baby Becca, my brother and his wife’s third little girl, will arrive.
“What comes after the new year?”
“Baby Becca!” I remember, and then I am not so sad about taking down the tree, the cards, the stockings…
In anticipation of her arrival we have pulled out an old favorite. A book so loved it is now missing both its front and back covers. A book that I bought when my daughter was about fourteen months old, when we were anticipating the arrival of her baby brother.
The book that I thought did the best job of explaining to an older sibling what life might be like upon the arrival of a younger…
The New Baby, by Mercer Mayer (Random House, 1983), begins (shoot, the first page just ripped off, too, and something has stained the second, and someone has taken a bite out of the third), but still, the book begins: “Dad said, ‘We have a new baby and she’s coming home today.’”
Little Critter is ready.
“I got out my ball and bat and all of my favorite games to show the baby.”
“But the new baby didn’t pay any attention to me.”
“She cried a lot…even when I told her my best jokes.”
“I made my funniest face ever and she cried even louder.”
“I tried to dress her but she was too wiggly and floppy.”
“And sometimes she smelled funny and Mom had to change her.”
“So what can you do with a new baby?”
The rest of the book shows Little Critter engaging his baby sister with cuddles, tickles, and rattles.
The book ends, “I can take her for a walk and show her to my friends. They think I’m so lucky.”
In part thanks the picture of the pacifier (my kids love any book with a picture of a pacifier) but also because of its tenderness, its authenticity and in true Little Critter fashion, its humor, for my daughter this book (at least for a time) was even more awesome than the brother it was meant to introduce.
And now, almost two and a half years later, my son also cherishes this book, one of his favorites at bedtime.
For the last few months, every time I pack away something “babyish,” be it as small as our Fisher Price shape sorter or as significant as our crib, my daughter says to me, “you don’t have any more babies!”
She’s right (sniff, sniff) (thank God?)—it really depends on the day–but EVERY day we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby Becca—The New Baby in the Nies family.
We are all “so lucky.”
Sending all my love to Renee and Brian for Becca’s arrival.