My very first mental snapshot of Little E is from the second after her birth as I pulled her from the birthing tub. In that very first instant of seeing my baby, I was focused not on her face --I didn't even notice that it was obscured by the birth membrane-- but on the spot between her legs where I was convinced I would see boy parts.
We'd opted not to find out gender at the ultrasound, but I was convinced that I was having a boy and was almost as shocked to see a girl as I would have been if the technician had told us it was a boy back at 18 weeks. When I got over my astonishment, I realized that I had given Big E something I had never had but always wanted: a sister.
I grew up with a younger brother and my husband had two older sisters; this territory of same-sex sibling relations is somewhat unfamiliar to us. We try hard to be conscious to avoid quagmires like unwarranted assumptions, unfair judgements, and unattractive hand-me-downs, but we aren't always vigilant about is making sure that they each get some solo time with us. Dictated by time constraints or practicality, or as a result of our attempts at fairness, the girls tend to travel as a pack.
This weekend we took a tiny step toward giving the girls a little more solo time. On Saturday, I took Big E to Starbuck's, inexplicably one of her favorite places, where we got hot chocolate and Chai and split a brownie and on Sunday, while Big E was at a friend's house, my husband and I took Little E to her favorite lunch spot, a grungy local diner.
No magical moments of bonding or spectacular strokes of insight sprung from these outings. But I think that the solo time was worthwhile. As much as I cherish the sturdy foundation that we as a family provide each other, I value the individuals, as well. I'll continue to find opportunities to complement our family time with one-on-one time, so the girls can see how much they each mean to me --together and apart.