Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Sublime Patience of Older Siblings

One older sibling, anyway.

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.

older siblings patience

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.
I mean seriously, every day she has to wait for my attention and affection (unless you count 'I love yous', which I can give any time) and she has borne those delays with a great deal of composure and forbearance. Her overwhelmingly positive attitude toward H.'s arrival and the resultant upheaval in our household has made great afternoons and calm weekends and low-stress outings possible.

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.


  1. That's so true. Older siblings deserve credit!

  2. Hi! I got your e-mail! Sorry it's taken me a while to respond! December is crazy for us! But I'll reply today! ;) You have such a lovely blog... I love the pic of this post... About your previous post... I've never done a home tour in my blog but right now there's not much to show... We are living in an apartment so ... I guess the tour is done in the pics I've shown of my kids! LOL! You can see the whole thing in probably a pic or two! Loved the pic of the "matryoshka" brought back memories because my grandparents gave some of those to my parents, they brought them back from a trip they had to Europe... I love them! :) Talk to you soon!

  3. I think it is wonderful when I see a patient well-behaved child. It has to do something with the lifestyle I swear. :)

  4. you are incredibly lucky that P is so mature. May she always be so patient and gracious!


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