The way the math works is that Shelby was born eleven and a half years ago. Megan died when she was seven, and Sarah came into our lives when Shelby was eight. That means that Sarah has had approximately half the time, at this point, that Megan had with Shelby. A third of Shelby’s life has been with Sarah.
Somehow, Sarah and I got into a conversation about this a few days ago, and it really got me thinking. Though Megan had double the time so far, it doesn’t necessarily mean she got the “better” years.
Sure, Sarah did not get to witness Shelby’s first steps. She wasn’t there for her first words, or her first day of school. Shelby learned to read without ever having known Sarah existed. Trips to Myrtle Beach, Maine, and the Great Smokies are all Memories that Megan and Shelby shared, and that Shelby still reminisces about.
Sarah never changed her diaper, or made a bottle for her, or fed her disgusting strained peas in a high chair. She wasn’t around when Peanut had her first school presentation, or got to walk in a parade.
Ultimately, she didn’t give birth to Shelby.
But it doesn’t change that fact that Sarah and Shelby share a bond just as strong as Megan and Shelby did, albeit formed differently. Megan is Shelby's mom...and Sarah is Shelby’s mom. It’s taken time. Megan, for the obvious reasons of carrying and then producing another human being, shared an immediate attachment to said human. Sarah, for just as obvious reasons of somewhat involuntarily being tossed into motherhood to an eight year old, had to take time to wade into that role. While there was never overt resistance to being a mom to Shelby, there was certainly a cautious ambition to make sure things were being analyzed and presented slowly.
Just as Megan had those first steps and words with Shelby, Sarah has been the woman in Shelby’s life to encourage her onto other milestones. Sarah...not me, not Megan, not grandparents or other kids, or aunts, or uncles taught her to ride a bike. Sarah is the person that made Shelby feel confident enough to hop in a kayak on her own and paddle around. She is the person that is allowing Shelby a bit of freedom to learn (and play) on her own, rather than placing her in a bubble and protecting her at all costs. Her trips to Texas, just like our other trips, are some of Shelby’s best memories. She is truly “raising” Shelby WITH me, rather than just taking a back seat and letting me, or anyone else direct her impending adolescence.
Shelby is “graduating” elementary school tomorrow. She’s moving onto middle school. That is a REALLY big deal, and Sarah has been there for most of it...since the 2nd grade. It’s going to be a new situation for her, having to be a bit more self sufficient in getting herself to the right classes with the correct books, and even having to remember a locker combination. Neither Megan nor I or Sarah can be there to hold her hand on the first day of school and walk her to class, and Shelby would be horrified if we did. The confidence in being able to accomplish tasks on her own is something that Sarah has shown and taught to Shelby, because Sarah’s own past required it.
I can confidently say that Megan, for all the love and care and endless devotion she gave to Shelby, was a bit on the over-protective side. She was quite literally holding Shelby’s hand as much as possible. That was needed in those very young years, but truthfully, I don’t know where the line would have been. Had things not happened how they did and when they did, Megan may still be holding Shelby’s hand at all times...chaperoning her through her teenage years, almost to a fault in my opinion. She had good reason, of course. Megan knew she likely wasn’t going to have all that long with her peanut. I guess it’s just something that will always have to remain a mystery.
The point of all of this is that, as time has moved forward, both Shelby and I have been very lucky to have gone through what we’ve gone through, and still have a woman in our lives that cares as deeply as Megan did. Sarah has had half the time Megan did with Shelby, and as far as I see it, the timing is as it should be. I’ll never know how different things would have been if Megan was still kicking, so all I can do is choose to accept that she’s not, and be a part of raising our daughter with the woman I love.