By Heather Keenan
Recently I felt that I was treating my beautiful, spirited second born as a job rather than the awesome individual that she is. It caused me to be grumpy and feel as though she was extremely difficult. I decided I needed to look at things through different specs. Being a mother, regardless of the number of children you have, is a very delicate balancing act. I just needed to learn how to juggle.
I have two amazing daughters. A three year old and a one year old. They are the definition of “chalk and cheese”, which took quite some time for me to get used to. I naively assumed that my second child would very closely resemble my first as far as personality, temper and cautiousness go. I could not have been more wrong. It was, in a sense, like starting from scratch.
Immediately, when my second daughter was born, I got the dreaded mom guilt. My first child will hate me, I thought. She will think I’ve replaced her. She will hate her new sister. None of which, so far at least, is in any way true, however; I felt I had to really make it up to my first born for allowing a newbie to enter the house. My thinking was that if I made sure they did everything together they would each be getting equal attention and neither would feel neglected. This has worked, to an extent. They, for the most part, get along great. They play well together and have an obvious sisterly love and bond, which I love to see. But, I still felt something with me was off when it came to spending equal quality time with my youngest.
I got some outside advice and it became as clear as the waters off the coasts of Jamaica. I was, in a way, treating my second born as a job. Yes, I feed, change, dress and bathe her, but I wasn’t engaging with her enough. It seems that I was subconsciously making necessity time our bonding time. Changing a diaper can not and should not replace story time, and meal time should not replace nursery rhymes. But it seems, in the chaos that is motherhood, it had. This, combined with the fact that she is entirely the opposite of what I was used to raising, made me feel like The World’s Worst Mom.
With my first I automatically spent tons of quality time. My job was 100% her. My second child deserves that one on one time just as much as my first did, and still does. The difference? I have to make a conscious effort to give it to her. It is so easy to get wrapped up with the day to day necessities I was forgetting how important, not to mention how soothing and comforting, a fifteen minute story break is. Or how much fun patty cake can be. This is not to say that my first deserves less QT just because we are now a family of four, she just has to be flexible.
With this realization I’ve learned that as families change, everyone in the family has to be willing to change. It is never a question of if there is enough love to go around, the question is how to adjust and balance your schedule so that it is fair for all and that everyone is getting the time that they deserve.
I’m happy to say that adjustments were made and I now feel like things are more equal at our house and I am feeling better about myself as a mom, too. I guess sometimes you do just have to step back and see the whole picture. It’s no wonder I felt my youngest was irritable, she was. The girl needed some Momma QT!