I share a bunkbed with a younger brother who uses our communal toybox as his own nighttime Porta-potty. Another little brother sleeps in the crib down the hall. And, although she hasn't told me so, I'm pretty sure the bump growing under Mom's shirt is going to be another noisy, annoying little person...probably a boy. Our house is clean, but never quiet. I only have one Barbie doll, but she sleeps in the toybox and so her hair smells funny.
I don't want to go home today.
It is hard to be the oldest and to be the only girl. I am not even in kindergarten, but I feel wise and worn beyond my years. My lot in life is to be the helper, the example, the big sister. I love my parents and they love me. Mostly I enjoy bossing my brothers around. They are hyper, but harmless. Still, sometimes I just wish I had a pink canopy bed and a mother all to myself.
Somehow, magically, when I get home Mom senses my mood. She makes sugar sandwiches for lunch, sings Edelweiss to the boys and tucks them away for naps. Then, leaving dishes in the sink and laundry to be folded, she leads me to the living room and makes me a paper doll.
This paper doll is not like Barbie or Skipper. She doesn't have a ballgown or high heels. This doll is named Gabriele, just like me. And her wardrobe is very familiar--a yellow rosebud nightgown, striped turtlenecks and corduroys, even a dress with an animal-cracker-box print like the one I wear to church.
Mom is good at drawing and even better at telling stories. She tells me all about the little doll-- Gabi --and the places she wears her cute clothes. She tells me, without really saying so, that she knows it is hard to be the oldest and to share a bunkbed and a toybox and a mom. She tells me she would rather sit beside me than clean up the kitchen or take the nap she needs.
And, even though I'm not yet old enough to go to school, I am educated in eternal truth that afternoon. I realize right then what a lucky, lucky girl I am. That having a mom who sings and draws and sits and listens and talks and understands is better than a million Barbie campers. That it's ok to share your mom with a whole bunch of siblings as long as she's the kind of mom who somehow loves each of you so completely that, individually, you go to sleep at night secure in the knowledge that you are her favorite child.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
I love you completely and forever.
From, Your Favorite