When the Baby was born three months ago, our friends and family all asked if the Boy and Girl were jealous of their new baby sister. "No!" I exclaimed proudly. "They are so in love with their sister that they are competing over who gets to be with her the most." I have to admit that this response was embarassingly tinged with a certain smugness that conveyed (falsely) "My kids are so highly evolved that they are beyond jealousy." Yeah, whatever.
And that’s exactly how it was until a few days ago??!! All of a sudden, they’ve turned on me. "You love the Baby more than us." "You only care about her and you want us to go away." What’s interesting is that whether it’s the Boy or the Girl complaining about my incapacity to equally distribute the Love, they speak as a WHOLE, a TEAM, who’s united spirit stems from a disappointment in me, their mother. On everything else, they bicker like cats and dogs, but on this, they agree wholeheartedly.
I was floored. When I got pregnant (not planned, and therefore a huge, mind-numbing shock to my body and brain…but now that we’ve got her, I’m not only in love with this Baby but completely OBSESSED in a way that totally shocks me given my initial reluctance. WHO KNEW?), my initial concerns included on that my older kids would somehow get neglected. Since the arrival of their baby sister, I’ve gone out of my way to plan activities and "Mommy" time with both the Boy and the Girl. Yes, life is different, we don’t jump in the car and head out for spontaneous adventures, but we do spend lots of time reading, cuddling, listening to music and eating ice cream together on our patio. I’m trying. And still, they’re hurt. And upset. Everyday.
I think what really gets them is the breastfeeding; the intense physicality of my relationship with the Baby makes my older kids feel somehow left out. I get it. I just don’t know how to fix it right now? The Baby is nursing all the time (any tips on getting a 3-month old on a feeding schedule?) and it is isolating for other family members. But, I did the same for them and refuse to give this child anything less. I try to reason with them, but they’re 5 and 3 respectively – all they see is that I’m largely unavailable. Will this affect them going forward? Will it somehow damage the strong bonds I’ve worked so hard to cultivate? I torment myself with these question. Any thoughts?