And baby makes four . . .or five
November 17, 2013
For many women being pregnant with her second child is a wonderful occasion while for others it is a time of inner conflict. Yes, she wants this new baby but how could she possibly love anyone as much as she loves the little person here. Will the first child be abandoned? How will she stretch herself anymore than she already is? How can she create equality within her family?
It is important to realize that the learning curve with the first child is incredibly steep. When you are already in the role of parent bringing a new baby home is not as frightening.
Remember this baby is born into a family unit. We do not mother each child separately. Yes, we have different relationships with each child but we can never divide ourselves equally. There are times when one child requires more time and focus. Yes, they will fight for attention. The mothers I have spoken with who feel that they do not abandon one child for the sake of another seemed to have similar attitudes: “We are a family, a unit.” One mom who refers to her family as “The 12th Street Gang.” I love this.
You know the Sister Sledge song “We are Family?” “I got all my sisters and me”
My mother loved The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. I picked it up recently and it made me realize how much his words spoke to her.
On children he wrote:
Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s
longing for itself.
They come through you but not from
And though they are with you yet they
Belong not to you.
Children are individuals but they do not exist alone. We are here to guide and love them. They will model what they see. Let them play well with others and work through natural conflicts?
My freshman year of college I had an acting teacher who asked me which of my siblings I loved best. Without missing a beat my reply was, “I love them equally but differently.” That was my Mama’s work! She created that.
(My siblings and me)
It is helpful to have strategies to be able to mother more than one child at a time.
Here are some ideas that can help:
~ wear the baby – get a sling, wrap or other carrier to keep the baby close and keep your hands free
~ include the older child in caring for his sibling, do not force it, rather give him the opportunity to help, keep diapers and baby’s clothes within reach of him so he can get these things
~ do not overindulge either of the children
~ ask open ended questions and really listen to him
~ acknowledge his feelings
~ let go of things – dust, material objects
~ ask for help with the house and food – when people ask what you need tell them you need food and a clean house
You can never create true equality! Ask anyone with siblings – they will tell you stories. Go easy on yourself.
By keeping your family together the older child sees how he was cared for. By separating the two you teach them that you cannot love them together – that each child is just one unit, creating more competition. By including the new baby you are modeling love, acceptance and patience.