Seriously. Look at that face. She is VERY VERY excited to be a big sister. But that doesn’t mean she’s thrilled to be sharing the spotlight, not at all. It’s been a challenging few weeks, watching our family dynamic shift and bend as another little person enters our lives. Previously we were a happy unit of three – our girl was our world and she knew it. She got all the attention, all the love and she lapped it up.
Now she has to share us, and it must be quite a wake up call. Yesterday she told me she “didn’t like Mommy” and cried for her father when he left for work. That hurt. A lot. But I can understand it. After all, I’ve had to devote nearly all my time to feeding and looking after her baby brother, so no wonder I’m out of favour.
Her father has been her primary care giver over the past few weeks, doing the things I normally do, like feeding her supper and taking her to school. He’s also been dressing her, which explains why she pranced off to school last week wearing 3/4 pants, long socks pulled up to just below her knees and a tracksuit top covered in porridge. Her hair wasn’t even brushed.
Another friend told us how his first born formed a much closer bond with him once the second child came along and it got me wondering if this is something that influences them for life. Does the first born always side with the father and the second with the mother, for this very reason? Nature requires us mothers to focus intently on keeping the newborn alive and as much as we try and share our love, we can’t equally split our time. Or is this just a phase that will pass as quickly as it arrived?
Family and sibling dynamics are fascinating…we’ve all seen families where certain children are “favourites” and where siblings take “sides” with either parent in situations of conflict. And I don’t want that. I particularly don’t want to neglect my daughter at this vital stage in her life, but I also only have two hands (I mean this literally: last week I had to help Rachel on to the toilet while holding Ben in the other arm – physically challenging to say the least!).
I know that Ben won’t be newly born forever and that someday Rachel will go to school with matching clothes, but at the moment I feel like I’m neglecting one child in favour of the other. Just when you think there’s nothing else you could feel guilty about as a Mom, parenting goes and throws you another curve ball.
Many mothers told me before I had Ben that your love for your existing child doesn’t diminish when the second comes along, your overall capacity for love just grows even bigger. And that’s proved to be true. I imagine the same applies if you have more then two children as well, although I won’t be testing out that theory myself – I’ll leave that to those much braver than me.
Two hands is all I’ve got, so two children it will be…and I know I’ll spend my life trying to share the love and attention equally between the two.