Greeting the new year with apprehensions…
Just when we had gotten used to our threesome, the dynamics of our relationship will change again with the birth of He-Who-Has-Yet-To-Be-Named Baby #2 in about a month or so.
And just when I thought I had adjusted to this motherhood thingie, I have a funny feeling that I’m going to lose ground and start all over, you know, like those board games where you advance your token to a couple of squares only to land on a square directing you to move back to twice the number of squares you moved from. Worse, you are directed to move back to the start. Or even way worst, you are asked to “go to jail, go directly to jail. If you pass go, do not collect $200.”
A few months ago, I was convinced that Hubby and I will be more equipped as parents this time around. Been there, done that. We should act like know-it-alls by now. It’s payback time and it should be our turn to give unsolicited advice on parenthood to fledgling parents. But doubts have started to inch their way into my mind. How are we supposed to deal with a toddler and a newborn at the same time? It was hard enough the first time around, but now, we have a 2 year old loudmouthed attention-seeker at our side.
How are we to deal with the competing needs? The sleeping habits, eating habits, temperaments, behaviors, ailments and many other things I can’t even think of now which are distinct to each kiddo? And that Mother Nature, she is neither cooperative nor courteous and is for certain, going to make several poopy and weewee calls at different times. Add that to the list of apprehensions plus the second set of nappies and all the other second set of items we have to purchase and store (if we could find space), will you? On the upside are the hand-me-downs which the Little Creature #2 could reuse. That’s a big minus to our expenses.
I am concerned that, instead of the wonderful, blissful mother instinct that everyone else said was supposed to kick in the moment mothers lay their eyes on their babies, I will just be weirded out and be perplexed by the bloody little thing that would most likely resemble a lizard than a human being. It didn’t kick in the first time and I am not sure if it will this time. And if I, the mother, was unmoved by the supposedly poignant mother-baby bonding moment, then how can I expect the Little Creature #1 to feel otherwise towards a little stranger?
In an effort to become an attentive and enlightened modern mommy (it’s not too late!) I’ve been cramming on toddler psychology during the holidays (it’s complicated, toddlerhood). I came across a few articles with advice on how to prepare a toddler for a baby brother and I have selected the following to heed (mostly from BabyCenter):
- Talk about how he was like when he was a baby. Go through his baby pictures.
- Talk to toddler about becoming a big brother and how important he is going to be to his little brother.
- Tell toddler that he is and always will be special to us parents even with the additional #2.
- Prepare a gift for toddler “from the baby” and give it to him after giving birth
- Don’t force him to talk about the baby if he is not interested
I came across two conflicting ideas about how much time to spend with the toddler before Baby #2 arrives. One article suggests to spend as much time as possible with the toddler. Another said that it is advisable to spend less time with the toddler while the baby hasn’t arrived so that the toddler will get used to mommy not being around all the time. It will teach him to be independent, it would allow him more time with the dada and so he will not resent the baby for taking mommy’s time for him away. So which one is it? We’ll just play it by ear, as usual.
- Ask people not too ooh and ahhh too much on the newborn and to give equal attention to the toddler.
- Do not let toddler see me cradling the baby when he arrives at the hospital to visit mommy. Pick up baby in front of toddler or let toddler touch baby first or at least pretend that toddler will be touching baby first.
- Take the baby home together with the toddler.
- Involve toddler in taking care of the newborn so he would feel important and useful, like changing the nappies and choosing the clothes to wear. Maybe ask toddler to help with the feeding or bathing.
- Prepare special toys. The baby will receive gifts from families and friends and it would be good if there is also something just for the toddler.
- Make sure to spend some one-on-one with the toddler.
- Show the benefits of being a toddler. Involve him in activities he can do and his little brother can’t yet.
- Do not blame baby for being tired and not being able to play with toddler.
I am crossing my fingers that these would work. I have had enough of sibling jealousy and I do not want my children to harbor similar feelings towards each other. We used to have that, my sister and I, when we were younger. I hope she has gotten past that. I have. The adults were never of any help to snuff it out. If anything, they were even the ones who brought it about.
Anyway, I had thought it was quite charming that the Little Creature #1 would kiss my tummy and call to the baby previously. These days though, he seems suspiciously unresponsive and he seems to be ignoring my growing belly whenever I mention the baby. Knowing the way of thinking of the people around us, I assume that they have been scaring him and telling him that he will be getting less attention once the baby arrives. I hope I am wrong but I should have a talk with the adults sometime just to be certain.
One annoying comment I have heard recently over lunch from a relative was about the sibling rivalry that’s going to inevitably arise between my kids. Here I am preparing to preempt such things while she and the rest of the people I know are probably maliciously anticipating and mentally tallying the comparisons they will make between the two. Such remarks are actually expected from the ever-charming, all-knowing relation, but still, I had to resist the urge to dip my dirty foot in her soup. I don’t know why people could sometimes be that way, making comparisons so openly and so insensitively. A sister is not as attractive or as talented as her sister; a brother is not as tall or as smart as his brother.
Fortunately, the Little Creature #1 seems remarkably more than capable of understanding the things that are happening around him and I am through underestimating him. I am trying to imagine being in his diminutive shoes and how he would feel about the big change that is about to come. (Here’s me wishing that I could really shape- and age-shift.) Lately, it seems that some of our “heart to heart” talks when he does “no-no” things seem to get through to him. I have to make some references to what he’s been watching lately in order to teach him toddler life lessons (Mary Poppins, Bed knobs and Broomsticks, Annie… I’m trying to be a good media-related influence these days by letting him watch the very wholesome, very heartwarming musicals. He reverts to fighting dinos only when he sees some of his toys lying about). If that is the approach that is most effective, then I’m adopting it. I just hope I don’t turn him into Abed Nadir, the character in the comedy series “Community” who mostly relates to real life situations through pop culture and media!