‘Mama, Mama, Mama…’ says my youngest, wrapping herself around my head like a boa constrictor. She presses her soft cheek against mine. I can feel her cheekbones. Her limbs slither about me, and then she rests. She can’t possibly be comfortable. I know I’m not, but it’s nice to be loved like this. My eldest loves on her own terms, and affection is given out in much smaller doses.
‘I love you,’ I whisper, so my eldest isn’t upset. My eldest is lying next to her grandma, the two of them flicking through instagram. Grandma is hers. I am her sisters. For this week. Except that I am actually hers too. She wants us both but she can’t have us both at the same time and the jealousy is undoing her.
Her sister of course, is thrilled, she has me all to herself. It’s a luxury she’s never had before. She can’t get a look in with Grandma, but she’s okay with that, if she has me.
As the full weight of her head presses into my cheek I wonder how much of her affection for me at the moment is driven by love and how much by the knowledge that it will really bother her sister. If she’s anything like me, probably both. I was a terrible sister. I was like my eldest, when my brother came along, I hated him for existing. I ended up with three brothers and at no point was I happy to share Mum with them.
‘Nothing is ever enough for you,’ my brothers say, still, and so does my mother. I’m much better at sharing, but if I’m honest, I’d still rather not have to.