This shouldn’t surprise me, since she’s aced every single challenge that life has served her thus far, but Natalie is a terrific big sister.


She is obsessed with Genevieve. In the morning, Natalie will tromp into the master bedroom, ostensibly so that Mommy can put her hair into a ponytail, but really because she can’t wait to say good morning to her (tightly swaddled, usually sleeping) baby sister. “Genevieve not awake!” she will proclaim at the top of her lungs, usually managing to negate her assertion in real time. “She not sleeping!” (At age two and small change, inconsistencies do not bother Natalie.) And every evening when she and Daddy get home, Natalie runs into the living room, heads straight for the baby on the boppy on my lap, squeals “Hi, Jenna-bean! Hi hi hi hi hi!” and fastens onto Genevieve’s delicious chubby face, all the better to give her plenty of sisterly kisses. “I hold Genevieve’s hand!” Natalie will announce and then attempt to do so, without regard to whether the owner of the hand in question is nursing or sleeping or otherwise disinclined to interact with her big sister.

I’m delighted, mostly because I’d have had no idea how to deal with any other outcome. I have no clue how sisters work. If Natalie manifested any kind of resentment toward the new baby, it would have made perfect sense to me: here comes this sweet-scented pudgy little marshmallow, wide-eyed and impossibly cute, to usurp your place as the apple of the family’s collective eye. Who wouldn’t be bothered by that? (Well, Natalie, for one, but clearly she’s a better person than I am.)

Fortunately, this has not happened. Perhaps because there hasn’t actually been much in the way of usurpation: as cute as she is, Genevieve is (a) not terribly exciting and (b) a rather fussy baby who doesn’t much go in for hanging out with people other than her parents. Natalie, meanwhile, continues to charm everyone, thus assuring her monopoly on the spotlight. At least for now.

Maybe the drama is yet to come. I’ve never heard of siblings who lived in uninterrupted peace and harmony. Even when they get along, sisters and brothers will retell, well into adulthood, the story of that time that “X tried to flush me down the toilet” or “Y wanted to know when we were going to take the baby back to the hospital.” We know this much is true. At some point in the future, Genevieve will view Natalie with something other than blank-eyed indifference. At some point in the future, Natalie will doubtless act out against her younger sister in some more pointed and direct way than the few abstracted fussfits she has recently pitched (which, we figured, might be “new baby agida” or just as likely “well, she’s two”). And at some point in the future, Genevieve will develop agency and personality sufficient to get in her big sister’s way. I don’t imagine I’ll be any more prepared to handle these inevitable conflicts than I am right now; I guess we’ll deal with them as best we can, however the moment demands.

In the meantime, I’m just enjoying the love.