Becoming a mother of two has been every bit of beautiful and challenging as I expected. I spent nights lying awake and uncomfortable trying to anticipate how our daughter, Joy, would receive our new son. “Would she love him, ignore him, or resent him?” My husband and I also had countless discussions about balancing it all; the offseason, our new roles, and how we would make it a priority to spend one on one time with Joy.
Obviously that all got tossed out the window 9 days in…
I had been so focused on carving out one on one time, maintaining her routine, and fostering a relationship with her sibling that I wasn’t prepared for the most basic changes.
In reality, we were knee deep in the post season, The birth and release from the hospital were everything but what we had planned for, and honestly, I checked in the hospital tired and left exhausted.
I wanted to provide that bit of back story before I divulged one of my biggest regrets since giving birth.
I could no longer see my daughter as the baby girl she once was before her brother got here.
For the 19 months prior to giving birth to our son, I spent every waking minute with my daughter. I mean that in the best way possible. I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to stay home with her and have a constant sidekick. She weighted 30 pounds but I could still carry her on my hip effortlessly, she wasn’t quite potty trained but it never bothered me, and she often woke up from her nap to later fall asleep on my chest but I loved it.
I’m so ashamed to say those same circumstances turned to small annoyances when we became a family of 4. I had been so focused on carving out one on one time, maintaining her routine, and fostering a relationship with her sibling that I wasn’t prepared for the most basic changes.
My baby girl was now a heavy 30 pounds, that couldn’t pee in the toilet after months of trying, and I no longer had room for her on my chest (because her brother is constantly nursing). The once occasional tantrum became more frequent thus more infuriating, and nap time had now become a daily battle.
I had already failed as a mother of two. I felt incredibly guilty. Overnight she became a big sister but I hadn’t really given her the chance to figure it all out. I looked in our newborn’s face and saw innocence and complete dependence. When I finally made it home though, my daughter hadn’t really changed but to me she looked so big, so mature, and wasn’t really acting like it. I was quick to judge and discipline. I felt like I had dropped the ball on the behavior aspect of things and just wouldn’t tolerate this defiance and attitude.
It took a gentle discussion with my mother to remind me that she was still a baby. Yes, she’s large for her age, very smart, and quite cunning but don’t let her fool you; She still needs a ton of guidance, compassion, and GRACE.
Instead of yelling, arguing, and ignoring; she needed discussions, choices, and a little compromise. Yes, the planned mother- daughter dates have their place but those won’t be nearly as important as my reaction to daily occurrences.
Everyday is incredibly unpredictable. I’m working on taking a breath before reacting and just keep reciting, “She’s a baby, she’s STILL a baby…” in my head. I’m not perfect and I have issued my fair share of apologies at bedtime “over mama losing her temper” but her memory is short and her love abundant. I guess she’s teaching me a thing or two about Grace.
Even after sharing this dark secret, I still can’t see her as the baby girl she once was before her brother got here. She’s now a wonderful, loving big sister, with attitude to boot and an independent mind like no other. She’s stubborn like I should have expected (have you met me?) and I’m sure it will always be a battle of will’s but I’m so grateful she is mine.
A great resource I stumbled upon was “Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus” by Karen Ehman & Ruth Schwenk. I was looking for a devotional for mothers and this was perfect. It’s full of 2-page lessons that seem to always show up at the right time. One of my favorite lessons talked about God’s love for us and our love for our children. It discussed the patience He displays with all His children, the encouragement He provides and how we need to do the same in our homes.
Do you struggle with patience sometimes? Did you have any mother guilt after bringing baby #2 (or 3, 4, or 5) home?