Mensiversary

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Today, June 5th, marked the one-month anniversary of our daughter Kara’s birth. It feels like a veritable tidal wave has flowed under the bridge since that day, one month ago, when she wriggled her way into the world.

Of course, it’s not really an ‘anniversary’, as the term refers to the passing of years rather than months (it’s derived from the Latin annus, meaning ‘year’). In theory the monthly equivalent should be ‘mensiversary’ (from mensis) although the word does not officially exist in any of the major English dictionaries. But it’s a logical progression and that will do for me, so happy mensiversary, Kara.

Heather and I are both delighted to finally have a girl in the house. Neither of us had a preference one way or the other whether we had a first daughter or a third son, but now that Kara has arrived I think we have both realised that having a girl opens up a whole new set of experiences (and challenges!) that would not have been the case had we had another boy. Neither of us grew up with a female sibling, and I think Heather is really looking forward to the opportunity to form a girlie mother/daughter relationship with Kara.

As for me, I’m waiting to see if she grows into a daddy’s girl. I’m enjoying the challenge of getting to learn her habits and preferences, and understanding how she differs from the boys. It’s immensely rewarding when I get things right, although I won’t pretend for a minute it’s all easy – in particular, getting her successfully to sleep is proving difficult for me – but when something does work or when she smiles I can forgive her anything. Even the dirty nappies which are expelled with concussive force and which require clothes to be incinerated and the house to be fumigated afterwards. Okay, I can forgive almost anything.

Of course, it’s not just Heather and I who have gained a daughter. Isaac and Toby have gained a sister too: ‘Baby Kara’, as she was quickly labelled by them both.

Three of a kind?

Both Kara’s brothers are affectionate towards their new sister in their own way, but their approach and focus mirrors the differences in personality between them. Isaac, who is very much a rational, logical left-brain thinker, tends to think first of Kara’s functional needs. Is she hungry? Can he smell a dirty nappy? Is she tired? Toby, who is the more creative of the two with a greater element of right-brain thinking, takes a more emotional approach to her well-being. He is full of kisses and cuddles, is by far the more likely to spontaneously ask if he can hold his sister, and if she starts crying is most likely to ask whether Kara is okay rather than adopt his brother’s approach of trying to analyse and solve the problem.

It’s hard to tell whether this more tactile, holistic approach is due to him being more right-brain than his brother or whether it is just a function of being closer in age and not bearing the responsibility of being the oldest sibling. But it has certainly surprised both Heather and I. Before Kara’s arrival, neither of us would have considered Toby to be a cuddly child – he still regularly turns down requests for a kiss or a cuddle from either of us, something his older brother has never refused – and yet that is exactly how he is with his sister.

But then life would be awfully dull if our children’s behaviour was predictable, would it not? Over this first month, we have discovered a lot about our baby girl, but we are also learning more about her brothers just by watching the way they interact with her. Watching these various inter-sibling relationships blossom over the coming months and years will be fascinating. Who knows where we will be when the first mensiversary becomes the first anniversary?