Mama’s (not) at it again and did a little something cheeky to this letter. Yes, yes, I am late in writing to you once more, and we’re in-between timelines now but really, who cares about timelines when I have so much to say to you right this second? So, three-and-more-than-a-quarter under the guise of three-and-a-half, let’s go.
Where do I even begin? Since my previous note to you, so much has changed and yet, nothing has. Your baby brother, Ethan, is finally here with us (in fact, he arrived very shortly after my previous letter to you) and he is 9 months old now; suffice to say that our days have been filled with so much more love and joy than what I thought my heart could ever wrap around. Papa and I did not have to worry about carving out space within to accommodate the both of you, for there just is and more for the two of you. Infinity, as we have learnt, does exist in love and hope, even if it is sorely lacking in time, sleep, the number of limbs we have and patience.
Whilst you have been absolutely amazing at being a new, big sister, I can’t say the same for myself as a second-time mum. You have demonstrated incredible tolerance for my limited bandwidth over the past 9 months. I’ve seen you look longingly at me as I nursed your baby brother. I’ve caught more than a few glimpses of you waiting patiently by my side while I struggled to put him to bed as quickly as I can so that I could spend time with you. What about the times when you chose to sit quietly by my feet, just so you could be physically close to me, whilst I rushed to put food on the table most crazy evenings? You, my dear, are far more mature than a three-year-old, and I thank God everyday for this grace, yours and His. “Please wait, Faith”; oh, how I have lost count of the number of times I have had to say this to you. “Faith, can you please help Mama with this?” is a close-second. At times, I wish you knew how my heart breaks whenever you choke back tears at my insistence that you go to school, even though you yearn to be home with me. I wish you knew how much I want to “play Lego” with you instead of asking you to build yet another playground or pile more ‘patties’ on the ‘burger’ on your own. I wish you knew how much I want to be alone with you, how much I love having you sleep next to me when the opportunity arises during holidays, even if it means having your foot in my face or one of your lanky limbs jabbing me in the ribs in the middle of the night. I wish you could count the number of kisses that I plant on your cheeks or the whiffs I take of your hair when I return to the bed after nursing your brother at night. Sometimes, I even jump for joy when you run a fever and are barred from attending school as a result, because it means I have a shot at shared naps with Ethan and you by my side, even if it means I run a risk of not having any of us nap because synchronised naps are mythical beasts. I know, I’m a weirdo.
Of course, there have been tantrums and meltdowns and arguments. Like when you just wouldn’t have it if I wouldn’t let you put on your Snow White costume at home. Or when your old socks, which have lost the elasticity, wouldn’t pull up and just stay put like you want them to. Or when you insist on spending more time wrinkling your fingers and toes in the pool, even if Papa says that you have to go as your lips have turned blue from the cold. And the persistent and ubiquitous “NO!”, let’s just say life would be easier without them. But, you are all of three years old and you have not directed your anger, disappointment and lack of patience with us at your brother, and that is simply remarkable. I am not even sure if I, at 33, can compartmentalise my emotions all that well. Papa and I are incredibly proud of you, my love.
As I held your little hand yesterday morning, walked you to your first day of N2, and saw how reluctant you were to be away from me when you stifled sobs, it struck me that as much as you are my baby girl, you have grown so, so much. When we first moved into our new home early last year, we transited you from sleeping in the cot to a big girl’s bed because we thought to free up the cot for your baby brother, and you nailed it in a mere few days. You woke up a few times a night, looking for Papa Pig and Bear Bear which we always tuck you in with, and Papa would go in to soothe you; surprisingly, you went back to bed without kicking up a fuss. A few nights later, you slept through again and woke up in the morning, proudly exclaiming, “MAMA, I SLEEP WELL IN MY OWN BED!” We also had you enrolled you in a new school which is closer to home, and you blossomed from that quiet, little girl to a confident speaker in class who loves her friends, music and dance; sometimes, you even take on the role of little Miss Bossypants, much to my amusement and horror. When I was heavily pregnant with your brother, you would stroke my bump ever so gently whenever you caught me wincing in pain and asked me if I was okay. When your brother arrived, we spent our first two nights apart from each other and you did so well at Gong Gong’s and Ma Ma’s that I teared up a fair bit, wondering if you missed me and wondering how you have gone from baby to young lady in the blink of an eye. I could tell you were struggling to make sense of your brother when you first laid eyes on him at the hospital. I was so worried that you would be jealous that I made sure not to carry him when you arrived at the ward. I watched you intently as Papa handed you the big bear that your brother gifted you, and said a silent prayer as you accepted it tentatively and took a closer peek at your new brother. My heart sang as you cradled a wrinkly Ethan gently in your arms and leaned forward to kiss him on the forehead. You looked up at the audience that had gone all quiet watching the two of you, stole a few more curious glances at your brother and kept very still as you held him. I swore you grew up in that few minutes; my heart ached and soared to witness that. Who knew that that was the point of no return?
Soon, you would sit by my side in the dimly lit nursery, trying your best to understand why I would ask you to pipe down when I put your brother to bed. Soon, you would pack Ethan’s diaper bag on my behalf and bring me his towels and changing mat. You would read to him, play with him and soothe him whenever I ask you to keep an eye on him so I could take a quick shower. You would tell him not to cry because “Mama has to cook, Didi. Mama is busy and she will carry you later.” You have become much too big much too quickly.
I don’t know whether to be happy or sad whenever I spot you quietly playing with Playdoh, Lego and jigsaw puzzles, three of your favourite toys in the world, as I pace the corridor trying to get your brother to nap. One half of me yearns to be there with you, 100% with you, and the other half applauds that my three-year-old plays independently. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad when you tell us that you “want to play with bubbles, and go swimming and go to the playground. I want Papa and Mama to come. I want chocolate milk and chocolate bread and cornflakes for breakfast” night after night when we put you to bed. Because it’s very telling of what you yearn for, our exclusive company and your favourite things which we haven’t been able to give you consistently since we became a family of four, and yet, you share your childlike desires with us so cheerfully that it reminds us you are still a small person who looks forward to the future, like we hope for you to be. How conflicted my poor mother’s heart is right now but it all boils down to me loving you that much. This tug-of-war of emotions is a good thing, I suppose. It makes me want to do more for you, and damn, am I trying.
Until Mama gets it right, my dear girl, please be patient with me, as you have been all this while. And I promise to be more patient with you. Less ‘hurry up’s and more time to let you apply your lip balm when you spot me putting on makeup. Less ‘come on’s and more prancing in front of the mirror whilst you twirl in your favourite dresses. Less ‘that’s enough’s and more Playdoh bits that get stuck on the upholstery. Because upstolstery can be cleaned, even if not to perfection. Because you would only fit in those size 3 dresses until you grow out of them too soon. Because you would only want to admire Mama while she dolls up until you think you are too cool for your parents. Because I love you too much for these meaningless battles to get in the way of your childhood. Because even though you are now a big sister, you are only three and a half for one day and no longer.
我爱你. *tweet* (Ask me what this means if you have forgotten about it.)