When you get the notice that your family is about to grow and your one-time baby is about to be a big sibling, the change is forever. When I found out I was pregnant with my second, I almost had mixed feelings about it. My biggest fear as a mom, especially as an only child myself, was that my first or following children would feel like the favorite, and worse, that the other(s) would know it. I worried I would inadvertently be giving one more attention than the other. So when I got the news, I vowed to myself (and my children) that I would always make sure my love was well-balanced.
As soon as the new baby came, our entire family welcomed her with open arms. That includes our first child! Even from the onset, nine months prior, Ellie was excited to be a big sister. Right away we placed the girls together and explained to her that our family was bigger now, but that just meant there was more love to go ’round. As the days went by I eventually noticed that Ellie seemed to be needing something more. I don’t think it was that we were doing anything wrong, but just got the sense that Ellie needed something just for her. Something that would make her world about her again.
The solution my husband and I came up with was special days each week that we focused on Ellie. Nothing was set in stone; we might try new fun foods or restaurants (Ellie’s choice), or go to a new park, or find a new toy and break it in together. The idea was just to devote time to trying to express how much our first daughter means to us and reward her general awesomeness.
Being a Chef, it’s important to me that I give my children as many foodie experiences as I can. Food has such a big impact in our lives, and it quite literally brings our family together at the dinner table, if nothing else. Now, Ellie is just about three years old, and like all three year-olds, has an affinity for sweets. So one day I asked if she wanted to join me in the kitchen and have a day together. She was enthralled and excited and that day became our first “Mommy and Me” cooking day.
We spent the whole day making and icing cupcakes. Then we made dinner too! It was great to see the excitement and joyfulness in her eyes. In those short moments memories were created for me, and hopefully for her too. Now each time I spend a lot of time in the kitchen I tend to hear that little voice asking if she can join the fun. It doesn’t take a lot.
Sharing what you love with your kids is what it’s all about.
Meal time is even more of a special time now. At her age, her role isn’t huge: she pours the water or milk into the bowl, or puts a few sprinkles of pepper in the mix, or even just stares at the baking pan through the oven door and tells me that she thinks it’s “done.” But in her mind, she is an Iron Chef (we all love that show) and I couldn’t be prouder. I know it won’t necessarily be like this forever, but it is nice to feel like I’m having an impact that will lead to showing Ellie that she can do or be anything she puts her mind to.