To my two toddlers,
We had a significant milestone around here the other day, kids. Actually, I should clarify: when I say it was significant, I don’t mean it was significant to me, or to the world, or even to yourselves right now. However, I think it could be significant in hindsight, when you two are older, and that’s why I want to talk about it now. Here’s what happened: Daddy had left the bathroom scale in the living room, and you both took turns stepping on it (and pushing each other off of it, and sitting on it, and pushing each other some more) and when when we eventually got you to take turns and stand still, the scale gave the exact same reading for both of you. We chuckled about that and you kept playing, but later on I thought, “Huh. That’s it then. This is very likely to be the last time in their lives that the little sister is smaller than the big sister, and the little sister isn’t even 18 months old yet.”
But I had known this day would come quickly, that little sister N would get bigger than big sister R. You see, N, you are growing at the same rate as your biggest sisters did. You are chubby and healthy and tall and strong and perfect. Meanwhile, R, you have always been pretty small for your age. You are growing steadily, thin and healthy and short and strong and perfect.
Right now, you are both so young. Babies, still. You simply do not care about this. N, you are delighted to finally be big enough to fight back when you get tackled, and R, you are still delighted to aggressively hug your “Baby.” I’m just worried that when you read this, when you’re older, one or both of you is going to be pretty frustrated with the way your genetics have worked out.
Because, here’s the thing: this is likely to get pretty annoying for both of you. Going to an amusement park and being too short for the ride while your younger sister is tall enough? That sucks. But having an older teenage sister who is cute and petite, while you are taller than most of the boys? Also sucks.
So I’m writing you this letter, now. I want to acknowledge that this could be tough for you guys sometimes, and I want to acknowledge it now, while it’s still nothing but adorable.
I wish I could promise that your Daddy and I will never compare you. I want to say that you will hear more than enough observations about your size and about your bodies from the rest of the world without us chiming in, because this is true. But I also don’t want to make promises we can’t keep, and I’m not sure we would be able to keep that promise. You see, we have an out-of-the-way wall where we want to mark your height as you grow, and what’s that if not a comparison of all of our family members over time? And we have four daughters who will share and pass down clothes, and I think we may need to address the fact that some of the clothes are hand-me-ups.
However, here’s what I will promise, to all of my daughters: I will do my best to never make you feel like the size of your body is a reflection of your worth. Whether your body is bigger than average, or smaller than average, or just plain average, it’s size and shape do not determine what it can do or the strength and spirit of the person it contains.
We have a scale, and while it spends most of the time tucked away in a cupboard, we may use it occasionally, like we did yesterday when you both weighed exactly 24.2 pounds. But please remember that this scale can only tell you what you weigh; it cannot measure your health, your strength, your beauty, or your character.
A close-in-age sister gives you a chance at an amazing life-long relationship, and your shared giggles and kisses and games and tackles prove that you already know this. But a potential cost of this relationship is that it is so easy for others to compare you with each other, which is often so very unfair. I’m bigger than both of my sisters, despite being the youngest, but comparisons were less frequent and obvious because of a five-year age gap. I didn’t feel compared to my older sisters, but I didn’t play with them very often either. Also, all the milestones happened for me and my sisters in the expected and predictable order, but that order just may be reversed for the two of you sometimes. This may be confusing for a while, and it may be upsetting. Please don’t let it spoil your amazing, special bond.
So, while I make no promises about being able to control my own intentions (just today I chatted with a friend in front of you about how you’re in the same size clothes), I can promise this: I love each of you as much as I would if there were only one of you, and I somehow love the two of you together even more. I just love you — unconditionally, immeasurably, forever — and your size couldn’t change that one bit.