23 January 2011

Hand-Me-Down Mom

When I was pregnant with my second child, I worried how we would make room for him.

I worried that he'd interfere with the little life we had built with our first son. It almost felt as if we were betraying Blake.

In fact, when I went in to the hospital for Nash's birth, my biggest worry was Blake. Would he be okay without us? Would he be confused by this new person in the house? How would he react to seeing me in the hospital? How would he feel about his new baby brother? How could we make sure he still felt really, truly loved while we were tending to the endless needs of a newborn?

I never thought that what would actually happen was that I would sometimes feel bitter towards Blake for not allowing me to be the kind of mother to Nash that I was to him.

When it was "just Blake," I would plop myself down on the floor and spend time with him, one-on-one, uninterrupted. We'd play ball, we'd read books, we'd laugh and tickle and sing and play.

When it was "just Blake," bath time was unhurried, fun, and even educational. I would play games with him, pop bubbles, and narrate everything that I was doing (just as the parenting books told me I should).

When it was "just Blake," meal times were calm and simple and organized. I'd prepare healthy meals for him, with lots of variety, and I'd take the time to feed him (or help him feed himself).

When it was "just Blake," time in the car was quality time. I would talk to him, responding to his coos and gurgles at first, then his words, and eventually reiterate his well-developed sentences.

Now, I am bombarded by the squeals of two very happy boys. They both want to play with Mama. They both want attention. And inevitably, Blake wins. He is bigger. He is louder. He is demanding. So when I plop down on the floor to play, it is usually Blake that commandeers the whole thing. He is the one who dictates what game we play. Nash just ends up following along.

Bath time now usually consists of trying to keep Nash off of "Blake's side" of the bathtub, and trying to get the baby done and out of there as quickly as possible so a war does not break out over the toys floating around.

Meals now are whatever we can scrounge together, and Nash is often on his own, which means that more of the spaghetti ends up in his lap than in his mouth.

And car rides are now spent listening to Blake's opinions about every location we pass and his memories associated with each place. Nash either sits quietly listening or shrieks repeatedly, trying to get his share of the attention.

When it was "just Blake," he didn't have to share me. He had me all to himself.

All the time.

Nash has to share me.

All the time.

Granted, Nash doesn't seem to mind. He seems happy just to be with us, hanging out, being included. He's so easy-going, so easily pleased, that it makes me feel even worse.

There is almost never undivided attention for "just him." Sometimes, in fact, I feel like there is nothing that is Just His.

All of Nash's belongings have been hand-me-downs from Blake. Car Seat. Highchair. Stroller. Clothing. Shoes. Toys. Play Mats. Bibs. Sippy Cups. There has been nothing of great importance that I can say has been all his own, just for Nash.

This week, I finally started putting together a scrapbook for Nash. I figured that since his first birthday is next week, I should probably get one started considering that Blake's baby book was already overflowing when he was this age. I printed Nash's pictures and they filled up about 25 pages. Out of curiosity, I counted the pages in Blake's baby book. Not surprisingly, Blake's book contained double the amount of pages. Troy thought that sounded about right, and that our next child would probably only have about 10 pages worth of documentation.

I know that with each successive child, there is less and less Mama to go around. But it doesn't make me feel any better. Because my heart is just as full of love for Nash as it is for Blake, regardless of how much stuff, documentation, or undivided attention I give to him.

I realize that there are pros and cons to everything. I realize that, sometimes, by giving your first child your undivided attention, he can grow up to be more difficult and high maintenance. I know that second (or third or fourth) babies can grow up to be more resilient, more easy-going, and tougher. They can learn to make the best of what is available to them. I see that already in Nash. And I wonder often if this is all actually good for him.

But it still frustrates and saddens me that by being the second child, Nash often gets a hurried, exhausted, multi-tasking mother; another hand-me-down. 


13 comments:

  1. WOW! Lindsey it is always amazing to me how you can put into words EXACTLY how I feel. This is one reason I LOVE reading your blog. Thank you for helping me realize I'm not alone!!!

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  2. Younger children are sharing mom, but the older siblings help raise them! I've noticed in my extended family that the youngest brother ends up the best athlete because he competes with the bigger boys his whole life! I used to worry how I would have the time to help all my kids with their homework to the same extent I had Austin--but I don't need to, they help each other. Playing "school" is a great trick! Big kids love to teach little kids all they know! Somehow, it really all balances out! As we prayerfully raise our kids, we are given promptings on how to meet the needs of each one of them! You are an amazing mom -- both boys (and future girls!) will turn out awesome!

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  3. All of your initial worries about Blake feeling abandoned are exactly what I have been feeling lately. I am glad to hear that I probably don't need to worry for Sadie- more for her little sister coming in a few months.

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  4. I love reading your thoughts on motherhood and life. This is interesting for me to read because I feel the same feeling but in a slightly different way. I think my biggest complaint of twins is feeling like I never get to soak in just one of them because the other one is right there demanding attention too. I hate that when they wake up from a nap I can't just hold one and cuddle her from sleep to wake, because there's always the other one too. Sometimes I feel cheated that I never got that one-on-one mom and baby time with a firstborn. But then I read this and think, it's inevitable that the more kids you have the more divided you'll be, so maybe it's good that I never knew the difference. Either way, I feel your pain.

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  5. yeah-- like everyone else just said-- we all feel this way!!! yet i totally see the benefits Hendrix has gotten by being the second child. it's seems to have been a huge blessing to him that's he's been second. so i guess we all just do the best we can, and see that Heavenly Father more than makes up for what we can't do!

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  6. So I know I am not a mom, but this was a very interesting post! Very insightful and things I never would have though about a mom with 2 young children. Just had to tell you. From what I read on your blog your boys are very lucky to have such a devoted mom.

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  7. So beautifully said, Lindsey. I have those same feelings, it was really nice to read your perspective.

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  8. but nash also gets a more experienced, capable and confident mom. lucky nash.

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  9. Wow, this was a really awesome post. Extremely well written. You could submit it to a magazine or something!

    I've felt the same way so many times. Except, along with feeling bad that Gracie never gets me to herself, I also feel guilty that I don't do nearly the amount of things I used to be able to do with Skyler...for almost FOUR years! I do agree with what mj said though. Sometimes I think our first child is our guinea pig. I can already see that Gracie will benefit from things that were an experiment for Skyler, such as what preschool to attend, what discipline to use, etc.

    Overall, I think we're pretty good moms, compared to a large majority of the world. So why oh why do we give ourselves constant guilt trips, all of the time???

    Because that's what you and I do, that's why! Love ya!

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  10. I don't know about you, but I always looked at having two kids close together as normal and would be no problem at all. I was quite surprised at how difficult it was to adjust to. I promise it does get easier to "split" yourself between the boys the older they get. I feel life after Eric turned one was great and he is the sweetest most awesome child and was not scarred at all by Grant demanding all my attention during the first year of his life...:)

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  11. Agree with Stephanie... you definitely could submit this somewhere! It is exactly how I feel as well now that Daniel came along. Thanks for putting it into words.

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  12. Nashy, I am catching up on your blog after getting back to Santiago and I just wanted to say that this post is really amazing. I'm not even a mom, but I never could imagine that a mother would feel so divided, yet it makes total sense.

    I guarantee that Nashy #2 doesn't feel like he's getting a hand-me-down mom. And he has to LOVE having Blake as a big brother. Blake will never get to experience that same feeling of being taken care of or babied because he's the youngest in the family. So Nashy does get to have some experiences and feelings that Blake never had either.

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  13. Feeling exactly the same way right about now. You put it so perfectly. But as it turns out, my nora is sooo much more mellow than ava was...probably because she's not getting my undivided attention? :) Maren is so right - nash gets a more experienced and confident mom.

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