I'm finding that one of the trickier balancing acts going from 1 to 2 children is trying to give enough love and attention to the new kid...without the older kid really noticing. On the one hand, it's important for J to understand that Jr. is a part of our family and it's okay for Mommy and Daddy to kiss and cuddle and hold the new baby in front of him. On the other hand, I've BEEN the older kid. I know how hard it is to feel like last year's model standing in the background while everyone in the store ooh's and aah's over the new baby -- look how precious he is! His little hands! Oh how cute, he's smiling in his sleep! Look at how perfect his head is! (That's the number-one comment about Jr., believe it or not, from strangers and family members alike. Apparently he was born with a Perfectly Shaped Head.) When I'm kissing the baby's head and singing to him and absentmindedly stroking his back while I carry him around the house, I can sometimes feel J watching us, and I've caught a few sad faces from him that just about broke my heart. And oftentimes that's precisely when J decides to act out -- boy oh boy do they figure out QUICK that when Mommy is breastfeeding she can't get up and drag me over to time out as fast usual, so Let the Bad Behavior Ensue!! So I have to stop loving on Jr. to see about J, and the poor baby is yet again soothing himself from the bouncy seat/swing/couch.
It sounds weird but Jr. and I have to resort to being secret lovers. After J is in bed, that's when I can freely snuggle up with the little guy in my bed, and stare at him and kiss his hands and sing songs that I keep to myself during J's waking hours because it's only a matter of time before he realizes that I'm singing HIS songs to the new baby. On Daycare Days like today, I can actually take a nap with Jr., and spend 30 minutes trying to coax a smile out of him, and dance around the living room with him, without feeling like I'm totally betraying J again. (Of course I also feel guilty even taking J to daycare, like the world's laziest mom, but that's a whole 'nother barrel of Mom-guilt for another day. Maybe if I called it "Preschool" instead of day care it wouldn't sound so bad to me). Jr. and I have to rely on these stolen moments to get to know each other -- he'll never get the complete undivided attention that J got for the past 3.5 years. When J is around, it feels like at least 75% of my energy is directed toward him--coming up with fun things for us to do so he's not parked in front of the TV/computer all day, trying to head off tantrums and bad behavior so I'm not spending my whole day doling out discipline, paying attention to when he seems sad or needy, attempting to coax the increasingly rare nap/quiet time out of him, etc. Because the newborn is so easy to take care of in comparison, I often get to the end of the day and look down at Jr. and think, "Hey, you. You've been attached to me for half the day but it feels like this is the first time I've really looked at you."
So we sneak around like we're having an affair, which I guess we are, kind of. And now it's 4 o'clock, time for me to go pick up my first love. Until we meet again on Friday, Jr.....
Practice makes perfect
8 years ago