I think there are a lot of times when we parents, particularly moms, sugar coat reality. We may hold back a few details from first-time moms. There are things that just don’t feel right to utter out loud like when you are so fatigued form nursing and cuddling that when they cry out in the night you cringe in the darkness. Or you sit coloring with your child all the while wishing you could just curl up with a Diet Pepsi and page through the Real Simple that has been gathering dust in the corner. These aren’t pretty feelings, nor are they the predominant feelings. Most of the time I am unapologetically and indefatigably passionate about being Mom.
I revel in the dependence, the round the clock role of healer and deliverer of joy. I take full advantage of the twist of perspective, of rediscovering simple pleasures. The feel of their skin, the scent of their breath, my girls sustain me in a way that at times makes it feel as if before they arrived I’d been in a suspended state, not truly living.
These past few weeks I’ve realized something that I have been loathe to share. How could I possibly type the words on this blog? Could I really put out in the universe what has been consuming me? Would it change who I was? What would people think? I struggled with this truth that was at once hideous and beautiful, finally whispering it to Sean, a mixture of wonder and shame in my voice.
“I am obsessed with Avery. I just can’t get enough of her.” What was implicit in my words, in my mind, was that this somehow meant that I loved Briar less. I have wanted to put Avery to bed, give her baths, cuddle her and be near her. I tended to Briar, but saw those moments as impediments to time with Avery. It was making me sick and yet my desire to be near her continued undulled. He responded, but what was in his voice was not judgement, no disappointment or accusation. He sounded awed and proud.
I rolled this around in my head. The idea that I was somehow abandoning Briar had been eating me up inside. My confession and Sean’s response led me to a very different truth. This time and this pull toward Avery is part of my process for preparing to welcome another daughter into our family. Briar basked in the glow of our adoration unencumbered by siblings, she was our center. When Avery arrived we shared the journey with Briar, forming a circle in which Briar had two places, as child and as guardian, making it ok for her to go back and forth between first baby and a part of an already established family, having ownership in a family that she was inviting Avery to join.
Now, as I move toward Avery, Sean is stepping in with Briar, etching new hollows in this place we share. They wrap their arms around each other in the night, drifting off to sleep together, they play ball in the kitchen and share giggles in the chair. I am able to move without remorse in this irreplaceable time, submerging myself in Avery as baby. I continue to be amazed by the wisdom that seems to spring forth as we ready for these monumental changes, whether it is the unrelenting desire to have the baby out of your body chasing away the fear of labor or the desire to have no curfew as you prepare to wean.
Things impervious to my orchestration – Sean, life, the girls, my own instinct- are allowing me to cement the bonds I will need to experience this new person without guilt and with complete abandon. It is humbling to find that I am not without prejudice, not without selfish needs, yet it has let me see that my very selfishness is opening the door for more love. It has moved me out of Sean’s way with Briar, it has led me closer to Avery and, I hope, has taught me that I can’t do it all the best or by myself.
I feel this way about The Poo right now. I just want to eat her up, sleep with her at night, cuddle in the dreary winter afternoons and read or watch a movie together.
Thank you for putting it all in perspective.
This is so true. I remember how I felt when I looked at Ben in the months preceding Jack's birth — tender, afraid for him, gentle, sorrowful.
And I have no doubt that had I had a third child, I would have pulled toward Jack during that pregnancy.
It's obvious you have incredible instincts. The shifts in everyone's roles when a new baby arrives can be difficult and frightening sometimes but you and Sean together will make it all work wonderfully. Being so aware of all those conflicting emotions is huge in bringing and keeping your family so close.
You are such a good mama, Really really phenomenal
I look at it as a pendulum … at times I swing towards the baby, relishing in all that it is to be a baby, then I swing to the preschooler, play dinosaurs and sing silly songs. It is equally different, equally beautiful.
This is lovely – and so comforting that you could see it all in a positive light.
These kiddos have magnetism that's indescribable but which can only be experienced.
It could be that during different times, you will be drawn more to one child or another — and maybe that's just something they need from you at the time…?
I do remember feeling like this with each of my soon-not-to-be-babies – I cried all the way to the hospital because I'd left The Boy at a friend's house and knew that I'd come back to a different child.
What a woman you are.
Those intense feelings that parents have for each of their children, it's a cycle that has its ebbs and flows, thank you for writing so beautifully about such a natural process.
It makes sense: soon your baby will be dethroned so you want to soak up all of her delicious baby-ness.
There will always be enough mama to go around. The kids adapt, they do. So will you.
I completely understand how you feel. I'm in the same boat. I'm obsessed with the baby and it's hard to have to care for the toddler.
Isn't it amazing? You are convinced when you are pregnant that you could never love anyone as much as you love your oldest, and then the baby is born and you can't get enough of them.
I rely heavily on my husband to take care of the toddler so I can focus on the baby. It's great because their bond has grown a ton.