Oh, it’s going to be hard, isn’t it?

it all becomes real
when he can’t understand why
things are different

It’s going to be hard. Harder than I ever let myself think or imagine or even plan for. I see it in his eyes, his expressions, his new ways of trying to get my attention… the Wee One is in for a dose of "holy shit my world is upside down" and I think it’s already started.

Our relationship is growing stronger – almost fiercer – as my belly grows larger. The Wee One hugs me harder now, and he’s not angry when I don’t get on the floor to play with him, he seems… resigned… to it.

This morning, for the first time since the first week of school, he cried when I dropped him off at his classroom. He said he didn’t get to spend enough time with me this morning. And his crying wasn’t the wailing, flailing freak out it was when he was scared of school, it was quiet… solemn… sad. And, oh, does that break my heart into a million tiny pieces.

I’ve started to wonder how I could do this to him? How could I cause such change and uncertainty in his life? I’ve started to wonder how could I do this to another child? How can this boundless, protective, doting love be shared equally? Logically, I know it must be possible. I know that people have babies everyday and they find a capacity to love all of their children in equivalent and infinite ways. I know that when my sister was born and I was four years old, my world didn’t end. I didn’t feel less loved or suddenly alienated.

But logic be damned. Right now, emotionally… emotionally I am a disaster area. I need caution tape and orange cones carefully placed around me. At every turn I worry that I’m letting the Wee One down, that it’s not that I can’t do everything for him that I’ve always done, it’s that I somehow just don’t anymore. I mean, I could get on all fours and play with him on the carpet. I could set the computer down, say no to another viewing of Zoboomafoo, and kick a ball around the backyard with him. I could endeavor to cook him something to eat other than pasta or peanut butter (even though he won’t actually eat anything other than pasta or peanut butter). But I don’t.

I feel like I’m using my giant belly as an excuse to be less of a mom. And that sounds so ironic and ridiculous, I know. But could it be so ridiculous that it’s true? I know I need to rest, to keep my feet up, to do what I can to prevent the bed rest and pre-term labor and PIH I had when I was pregnant with him, but…. but…. but….

He cried at school. He tells me he loves me about a thousand times a day so that he can hear me say it back. When we watch TV he sits in the chair right next to me even though there’s not enough room. And though I don’t think any of this is conscious on his part, I know his subconscious already feels this baby coming. His subconscious is preparing itself as the Mack truck of Little Sister zooms towards us.

And there has to be something I can do to soften the blow. But I don’t know what. We talk about babies and how special big brothers are. We talk about how smart he is and how he’ll be able to teach his sister all the cool things he knows. The whole family is taking a one day, "sibling course" in a few weeks where we’ll all get a tour of the hospital’s maternity ward, and he’ll learn how to diaper his favorite stuffed monkey.

Yet I still worry about the rug being pulled out from under him. I guess it’s inevitable. And he’ll be unhappy, or confused, or displeased, or not cool with it. And then he’ll adjust. But it hurts me to know I hurt him. And I like to think I’m not doing it on purpose. But the pregnancy was purposeful. The decision to grow the family was purposeful. My choices to sit in my chair and not stagger to the floor to play Lincoln Logs are purposeful. But not malicious. It seems silly to even point that out, but I feel like I have to. I feel this overwhelming guilt to confess that I’m not a super mom right now.

And where the guilt comes from, I don’t know. I guess it’s just part of the mommy thing. But I need him to know that even if I sit in a chair all day and only half-assed play dinosaurs with him, it’s not because I love him any less. I guess I could just tell him that (without the "ass" part) and see what he says. When he writes his tell-all memoir in 20 years, I’ll find out if the straightforward approach worked.

Oh man, forget about pimps. It’s hard out here for a mama.

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8 thoughts on “Oh, it’s going to be hard, isn’t it?

  1. I know this suggestion is a very small one, but my mom did it with when my brother was born, and again when my sister was born. She secretly bought a small gift and when we visited her in the hospital, she gave it to us “from the baby”. She also had a stash of small gifts ready to give the older child(ren) when people brought all those new things for the baby. Also, when you first bring the new baby home, if the Wee One is going to waiting for you, instead of with you, have someone else carry the baby inside, so you can hug him first thing.
    And though saying “don’t worry” is useless, try not to very much. It will all work out, and msometimes they will get along, and maybe sometimes not so much, but they will have a bond that no one can break, and just when you think they hate each other, someone will be mean to Little Sister, and then just watch the Wee One go into Big Brother mode!

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  2. Hi Kari, I think you’re doing all you reasonably can at the moment. Involving the Wee One in the preparations for the baby, letting him know that you can’t do some things just-at-the-moment, and talking to him about the baby are all good things. We did them with Alex when Tracey was pregnant and when Owen was born, we told Alex he wasn’t just the Little Man any more, but he was a Big Brother, and that was an important job. He has taken to this with great enthusiasm and even today I suspect Owen may be the most kissed and cuddled baby in the country. It has even managed to bring Alex and I closer together as we have had a rather chequered history, and it is all good however we look at it, and others notice it too.
    Talk to the Wee One, about everything and anything baby, and that involvement will hopefully reward you and him a thousandfold when baby arrives.
    Keep it up, I think you’re doing great.

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  3. Kari,
    I was three and a half when my mom was pregnanat with my sister. Just before she went into the hospital, she and my grandmother devised all kinds of games and puzzles that would lead me to new dolls (in need of diaper changes, of course) and books about new sisters and new onesies just for me to put on the baby. After a few days at my grandmother’s, I felt so loved and special that I couldn’t wait to share everything that I learned with my new baby sister. This feeling lasted until she started borrowing my clothes. Then I just wanted to smack her. Involve him with everything you do, but leave as much alone time for him as you can. You will love them equally, but he was there first. Best of luck.

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  4. Don’t worry – The Lord will bless and multiply your love many-fold!! The new baby will be a life-changing event for everyone -but she will be a delight, and there really is enough love to go around!!!
    You Are Loved.

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  5. Thanks for all the suggestions and kind words. I feel better now that I had my mini-breakdown. I’m sure there are more of those to come, but for now, I feel much less the drama queen than I did the other night.

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  6. I resonate with what you’ve written – and I’m neither prenant nor a mother! (I’m a dad). I find that I can be so easily distracted by (pick as many as apply): work, blogging, the sports scores, news, dishes, dinner, laundry, fatigue, fatigue, fatigue, phone calls from mother (which bring on more fatigue) . . . I can be so easily distracted that even for those few precious hours between picking her up from daycare and putting her down to sleep, I am usually not giving her everything I should or could or want to.
    My wife is prenant with our second child (another daughter!) and I know she has similar feelings to yours. Take my level of parental distraction and add to it the nausea and discomfort of pregnancy – God bless her. I don’t know how she does it.
    Finally, about your worry of dividing your love and attention between two children: I’m a second child and my wife is a first child. Inevitably, the second child has fewer pages in the scrapbook, fewer new clothes and more hand-me-downs, and she generally learns more at a quicker pace and with less undivided attention than the older kid did. That’s ok. We second children generally grow up laid back, independent and appreciating the balancing act that is life.
    Blessings to you.

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  7. I know it’s been a while since you posted this, but I just want to let you know that you seem to have captured my exact feelings. We have a 23-month-old son and are expecting the second right around Little Man’s 2nd birthday. I’ve been feeling so weird and guilty and you really summed it up. Nice to know I’m not alone in my occasional ambivalence!

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