I don’t know that I’ve ever talked with a Mom pregnant with her second child who didn’t have some sort of worry/concern about how the addition of another baby into the house was going to affect the older sibling. When I got pregnant with my son, my oldest was about 18 months old – and we were at an AMAZING stage with her where we had truly settled into this parenting thing, she had an awesome spirit about her, she was becoming more independent, she took monster naps and she slept through the night. I’ll be honest… it was a dream. And we knew how lucky we were to have that.
And while I knew that growing our family had always been part of the plan … in my head, I wondered if we were going to rock her world so bad that all of that was going to disappear…. that this amazing, spunky little girl that I had come to adore SO MUCH and was used to getting all of our adoration… would suddenly lash out and regress … and that she would be resentful to us that we now had to share our love and attention with another baby.
And the reality is…. that all came true. At least for a little while.
Not right away, it didn’t … but when my son turned one month old, my daughter became a whole other human being… specifically at nap or bedtime. Refusing to go to sleep on her own in the most dramatic way. Screaming a scream that I had never heard for two straight hours as she fought off bedtime while my husband and I took shifts trying to wave our magic sleeping wands over her. I remember being at home by myself in the afternoon running on an hour of sleep from the night before … sitting on the side of my daughter’s bed nursing her brother while I was stroking her hair until she fell asleep… only to turn the doorknob too loud after a successful speed tip-toe across the room, causing her to wake up and lose her mind and start it all over again.
This went on every day for two months. I was exhausted. I felt like a failure. And I felt flat-out sad. I had several meltdowns over that 8-week timeframe from a combination of exhaustion and being convinced I was a failure of a Mom because I couldn’t figure this two-child thing out… and not to mention an overwhelming sadness that I couldn’t seem to make any “hurt” that she was feeling go away.
Looking back, I now know that my daughter’s “acting out” had nothing to do with her not feeling our love, with me not doing a good job or because of her not liking her brother – and everything to do with it just being her way of expressing her discomfort to the “change”… just like we as adults have our own way of coping with big changes in our lives. And I can even laugh about it now … especially the memories of watching my 6-foot-1-former-football-player husband in the monitor try to ballerina tip toe out of her bright pink room after telling her 15 princess stories to finally get her to sleep. But in that moment, man did I feel like the walls were coming in on me.
I have been thinking a lot about that time in our lives lately, a lot because it was around this time last year that it all began… but really because these two kids have been so adorable together lately now that they can play together. And just watching that interaction … it makes me a little sad to think that I couldn’t see what was on the horizon back then.
And today… I swear it was like they were reading my mind… I looked up and saw this moment start to create itself. My daughter sat down at her picnic table in the kitchen to finish the PBJ she’d left there at lunch… and like clockwork, my son shimmied up right beside her. And suddenly, instead of thinking about that speed-tip-toe-ing I was doing out of her room a year ago, I was putting those same steps into action into the other room to get my camera and pray they didn’t notice me before the moment was over.
In ONE click … I captured EVERYTHING that I never could have imagined a year ago. That little girl who I was SO WORRIED was going to feel like something was taken away from her when that little boy was born… there she was… with the person who had instead ADDED so much to her life. She loves being a big sister. She loves his friendship. She loves his company. She loves making him laugh. She loves
telling him what to do showing him how to do things. And you know what else she loves? Going to bed. On her own. And sometimes she even tells me to leave her room to go check on her brother instead.
As I look at this picture, I sometimes wish I could have fast forwarded and seen it a year ago. We all can relate right? We all have those moments in our lives where we look back on our worry, our stress, our guilt… and wish we could have told our former selves that it would all be ok. Or even to tell that self how to see through the worry and negativity and focus on the blessings in front of you or the possibilities ahead so that you could have embraced the moment with a little more positivity.
For me… I would have told my second-time-pregnant self to focus more on the incredible journey ahead instead of what was going to “change.” And I would have put an arm on the shoulder of that exhausted Mom sitting on the side of the bed for two hours and told her that she was doing a damn good job.
But what’s great is we can all do that for ourselves now… we can recognize those moments when we’re worried about what “could” happen … or feel like we’re not doing a good enough job at what’s happening right now… and just trust that there will be a worth-photographing moment in the future that will show us that it’s ALWAYS worth the ride.