Briar has a crush. And it’s a doozey.

Auntie Abbie has come to town and in the process has created a starry eyed toddler. Briar looks at Abbie in the way that my mom’s generation looked at the Beatles – a mixture of wonder, love and desperation. Once, while standing in the kitchen Briar said, “Please don’t ever go home Abbie.” She is simply in love with her, and tireless in the demonstration of that love.

After hours spent squealing and pulling the girls through the house on a sled Abbie came to me and said,

“So, does Briar take an afternoon nap? Does that happen soon?”

“No, she graduated. No afternoon nap for Briar, just Avery.”

She was crestfallen.

“She doesn’t sleep?”

“Huh-uh,” I said as I turned back to the computer.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaa-beeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Aaaaaaaaaaaa-beeeeee, come here. Come here now and pull me!” Briar bellowed with unbridled enthusiasm.

“Ok, no nap,” Abbie muttered incredulously as she headed back to Briar.

About an hour later Briar came to me and asked to watch something on the computer.

“Sure, honey.”

After she was settled into Once upon a princess come true I made myself a snack and asked my mom where Abbie was.

“Sleeping, I think”

I checked on Briar after a while.

“Mom. you think maybe I could check on Abbie?”

“Sure.” I walked her to the room and opened the door. She stood absolutely still as Abbie slept. I patted her back and told her to go on in. She pushed back against me, almost fearful to tread.

“Honey, it’s ok, go check on her.” She took another few steps, but made not a peep. We stood for a few minutes. Briar sighed.

“Maybe soon she will wake up.”

“You could let her know you want her to wake up,” I suggested, but Briar stood still. We left the room, Briar looking decidedly forlorn. I sat down with Briar, clear that I was her second choice. Abbie’s arrival has effectively relegated me to plain old mom, a first. I’ve always been magic, able to bring a smile or a laugh, no matter the circumstances. I won’t lie, I still hate parts of the road ahead. Already the new-mom foal has been broken, forced to wear the bridle of time outs and tough love. Because I said so and Mommy said no are well worn parts of my mama lexicon. I mourn the days of roaming free, no rushing to define the day with rules and limits. Just when I feel as if my heart might break from the inevitable march we are on, jockeying for position, me for authority, she for autonomy, I am stopped.

My beautiful baby now lives within a bubbly girl, curly locks sway beneath an increasingly angular face. She is saying things like, “Of course” and “excuse me.” I want desperately to be her friend, to stay within the circle of trust, but even now, less than three years since she was nestled in my belly, I realize that I cannot. I am not her playmate as I once was. Watching her face light up at the sight of Abbie my saddness lifts. I am witnessing a bittersweet convergence of past and present as Briar takes my oldest and dearest friend, my baby sister, and invites her into her world.

Where before there would have been sadness, I now overrun with gratitude. That my mom had a second child, a sister for me, and now a friend for Briar, makes me weak. Abbie’s willingness to leave her life in Seattle for these visits of playdough sculpting and gibberish talking is more precious than I could ever hope to explain here. I am like any mom, I want my children to have the moon and the stars, and in these moments with Abbie, I see my sweet girl reaching just that.