Chris asked, “What is the real impact of introducing a little one to Swimmy and how that’s all worked out so far. Frankly, the idea of dealing with more than one kid freaks my ass out.”
My original response to him was the working title of this post, “How to Kill the Spirit of a Five Year Old in 9 Easy Months”…but that’s not (entirely) true.
When we knew we were expecting young Benjamite, I tried to figure out how to broach the subject with The Swimmy. I knew that four-year-olds have no concept of time – certainly not nine months – and that she REALLY had no concept of what life would be like once there was a baby in the house.
So, I did the traditional, “You’re going to be a big sister!” move because that was a concept she understood. We bought the appropriate books and read them only if she wanted to… which was a lot, then never.
We never talked about the baby until my stomache started, um, growing and she could visibly see something was underway. Every now and then I’d show her the baby was moving or kicking and she wanted to see or feel it from time to time. But, again, no big pressure.
As we got closer to “D-Day”, I knew I had to step it up a bit. She came with me to Babies ‘R Us, we moved her into her “Big Girl Room”, we talked about me going to the hospital for a few days when the baby is born, etc. And she started to get a bit apprehensive – AND a bit excited all at the same time.
And then he came home.
The Swimmy LOVED to watch him – especially the diaper changes, which, huh?! But, okay. At first all he did was lay there and sleep. Or cry. Or eat. And he was “not fun”.
And Husband’s and my attention was pulled elsewhere. And we were tired. And there were the endless trips back to the hospital in those first few days. And did I mention we were tired?
And one day I broke her heart. And it killed me.
But it seems her little heart has healed a bit, because she loves her little brother. I know this because every day she does something, or looks at him, or says something that tells me she not only loves him, but feels protective of him.
For instance, I called him “goofy” yesterday because he was making some silly faces. She got this very concerned and pained look on her face and plainly told me, “Mommy, that was not nice what you said to him. You hurt his feelings. Say you’re sorry and don’t do that again to my baby brother.”
The Swimmy has an amazing spirit and is a very special little girl. She is the heart of so many people in our family, it is truly extraordinary. She gives strength to some, peace to others, memories to many, and joy and laughter to us all.
Watching her take her little brother into her heart more than makes up for any of the moments where she knows she is no longer the center of attention. He L.O.V.E.S. her. He is fascinated by her and busts into the biggest, wettest, toothless smile whenever he sees her. He watches her so intently – they spend the most amazing moments looking into each others’ eyes. And when he laughs, so does she.
Husband and I may suck from time to time at parenting. I know this. We may not read the book we promised to read. We may not spend as much time with her as we know we should. Our patience may run short when we could use a measure of calm, but we do the best we can.
We knew that having another baby would cause all of this, but I wanted her to have a sibling close to her age — someone to go through life with. There is no guarantee they will get along, but at least they will have the chance of having each other.
And for all the moments that suck, sometimes we get moments like this.