For nearly two and a half years, she was the baby of the family. She is known to all as “Baby Z.” Her baby status is something that I figured would stay with her always. I still consider all of my daughters as “my babies,” but there’s something about Zaynab that has let that baby feeling linger. However, that all changed when Amani was born.
The night before I had Amani, Zaynab sat by my side, holding my hand, as I read to her from a stack of library books. Her little hand held onto mine. I marveled at how small it was, hardly filling my palm. Her little legs, chubby and short, stretched out before her as she wiggled her little toes. When the stories were finished, I cuddled with my little girl as she drifted off to sleep. I knew this would be her final night as the baby of the family.
The following day, after giving birth to Amani at home, I was smitten by my little newborn. Such tiny and delicate features. So perfect. So precious. So small.
Once the girls were home to meet their new sister, I was taken aback by how much “older” they looked and felt. It was my little Zaynab that looked like she had grown the most. In a single day, I felt as if she had blown way past “baby” and was well settled into the “toddler” stage of her life. Her features appeared to be more pronounced. Her vocabulary had increased and her words, easier to understand. When I held her in a hug, she filled my arms. Just a few nights ago, I was sure I could just carry her in my pocket forever. Now here she was, so grown.
Zaynab was completely enamored by Amani. She would lay next to her on the bed every chance she could. Zaynab’s “bigness” dwarfed Amani, further exasperating the difference in their size. And that was it; my Baby Z was now a big girl. I couldn’t even call her “Baby Z” anymore. It felt really out of place. Z was so used to hearing us call her “Baby Z” that she assumed all babies were given that name. She referred to her new sister as “Baby Amani” for a good two weeks.
Just one night. That’s all it took for Zaynab to grow up. Suddenly it felt like it was time to potty train and look into preschool applications. That moments in the kitchen with her on my hip and my arm wrapped around her as we prepared meals felt like they would soon be a thing in the past. But who am I kidding? Zaynab will always be my Baby Z!