Moving from one kid to two is something that seems to overwhelm a lot of people - and these are not weak people! These are strong, capable people who unexpectedly find themselves taking way more bathroom breaks than usual just to get away from the competing needs of two children.
So I feel incredibly lucky to have handled caring for a three-year-old and an infant capably... thus far. And believe me when I say it's not because I'm so darn awesome. Notice I said lucky. All the luck comes from having a generally well-behaved, empathetic, and patient kid.
Mostly we talk about parents having to be patient. Heck, it's a standard part of the pre-discharge lecture at the hospital. Don't get so frustrated you shake your baby. Just walk away. Stay cool. But have you ever thought about how patient older siblings have to be? And how hard that sometimes is for the older siblings who are still little themselves?
Here are just a few examples of how P. exhibits patience as an older sibling nearly every day:
- When I'm nursing, which is often, she no longer pitches a fit because I can't give her a hand right away.
- She understands (or at least accepts it) when I explain why she can't "borrow" every toy in H.'s room.
- I've watched her adapt to the fact that I may not always be as attuned to her needs as I was before her baby brother came along.
- She has found ways to interact with me when I'm otherwise occupied with H.'s needs, like handing me things I need or snuggling up alongside me when I'm breast feeding.
- Having to wait for things has actually made P. more helpful - she's more excited than ever to be a part of dinner prep and getting dressed.
- She comes up with novel solutions to timing issues, like suggesting she and H. take baths side by side.
- She now is much better at remembering to tell me when she wants to do something first, which is important to her right now.
- And when I screw up, which I do at least once a day, P. is very, very forgiving.
Plus, I kind of get what she's going through. As an older sibling myself - though admittedly, much older when younger brothers and younger sisters came onto the scene - I remember having to wait while my dad addressed the more immediate needs of babies and toddlers and even kids. Sometimes it sucked! This older sibling used to do things like tease her brothers until they cried and then claim not to know why they were crying when an adult came along.
Which is why I am incredibly grateful for how grownup and empathetic P. has been as we've added a fourth member of the household. She makes it a lot easier for me to feel like a good mom.