When I was 7 1/2, I had a baby. I know what you are thinking--it must have been a doll or something. But, no, it was a real, live, breathing baby. No, it wasn't mine (it was my mom's) but it sure felt like mine. This baby had a very bald head until she was about 2 (just like me). She had blue eyes and she was 9 lbs 2 oz (just like me). Her hair grew in blonde and curly and she had a cute little basketball belly (just like me--except I still have a basketball belly and she, regrefully, does not). She and I would have "conversations" where she would make little baby noises and I would "interpret" them for everyone. In every aspect, she was, in fact, as much my baby in my 7 1/2 year old mind as she was my mother's baby. Caradon and I probably had many fights over who would get to push her in her stroller--Adam didn't really care, he was too busy pushing his head around the carpet like a tractor. I remember that she was the first baby in my entire life that I got to change the diaper. Phew! Crazy baby sure did make a huge mess. But, once I knew how to do it, there was no stopping me from volunteering every time. I'm sure my mom was grateful.
Well, this baby started to grow up. I could regale all the specific stories of the torture my sister, brother, and I put this baby through when she was about five and in her bossy, tattletale stage, but I won't. Let's just suffice it to say that we made her realize that we weren't going to put up with her crap, that's for sure! She continued to grow into a beautiful little girl. Like any big sister, I can remember dressing her up in pretty dresses and doing her hair. Once I did this so I could take pictures of her to draw for my high school art class. Yeah, I know that was a big time jump, but that's what I do. Anyway, she and I had to share a room for a lot of years. We had a nice big house with four bedrooms. But, Caradon got her own cause she was the oldest. And, Adam got his own cause he was the only boy. And, of course, my parents got their own. So, that left me and Sam. She was a good roommate for the most part. She wasn't too annoying and she would get out of bed when she was fast asleep at my insistence so my friend could have her bed and she would sleep on the floor. I was so nice! We had a little tapping code on our walls and to this day I only remember one code phrase, and I am not going to tell what it is, it's our secret. We sang little songs together and made videos together about little girls named Michelle or something like that.
When I was 18, I moved out of my parents house to go to college and left my baby in my brother's capable hands. While I was gone, I would hear stories about the amazing games of basketball she would play, or she would tell me all the latest gossip about her friends. I can remember watching my baby in many amazing plays, showing the world how talented she was (and still is to this day). One of her plays even made me cry! Of course, that's not very hard to do. A couple times she and I would dress up as clowns and go to the local country club to paint faces on the Fourth of July together. It was fun. We would go on walks and have long talks about her life and about her struggles with high school, friends, parents, and all that other kind of stuff when I moved back to Oregon. She has always been an amazing aunt to my kids and they love her more than me, I think! She was and is an amazing person.One day, after many years of constantly coming to each other for advice and support, she came to me for some support that, in a way, I saw coming, but in another very big way, I didn't. She came to me in tears, holding her heart in her hand to let me know that she was in love with her best friend, who also happened to be a woman. I immediately put my arms around her and we hugged and I can remember thinking how badly I wanted to protect her, how badly I wanted to make everything perfect for her. For a long time, she fought those feelings, trying so hard to please everyone else and to do what she knew to be correct or right at the time. Over time, though, she began to feel that that wasn't what she wanted to do anymore. It was hard on our family for a while. I was so torn. I had to please my husband by supporting his feelings on this matter, but I also had to be true to myself by loving and supporting my baby the same way I had always done since she was born. But, time has a way of healing everything.
It has been a little over three years now since we had that tearful conversation on my bed. I remember it so well because it was on my wedding anniversary and I was holding my 6-month-old daughter in my arms. I can't say that my feelings on this matter have completely healed, and my beliefs are still very much the same. But, I can say that things are as normal now between us as they were before all of that happened. I have come to love Elise very much and I love having her as a part of our family. Sam and I still have our playful banter and Sam's relationship with Mike is back to normal, which I am truly grateful for because I don't have to serve as the mediator or messenger. My kids only know what they need to know about Sam--that she loves them more than life itself and there is nothing she wouldn't do for them. And, that she is tons of fun--way more than Mom is! Sam has always been my first baby. Nothing will ever change that, and nothing will ever stop me from loving her so very much. And, the only thing she had to do to win my affection was to be born, and that was it. Not many people can claim that they earned my affection so easily. I very much look forward to the future that Sam and I have to spend together. I am excited for the amazing things she is going to accomplish in her life, and I am happy for all the people in the world who are going to be better for knowing her. I am certainly a better person because of you, Sam. I love you so much.