Parenting is a delicate balance. Since we had our second child 14 months ago, hubby and I have managed to survive via the whole divide and conquer parenting method. My husband is the one who tends mostly to my older daughter’s needs and I spend most of my time making sure the baby doesn’t wander off into traffic or something.
But lately I feel myself a little distanced from my daughter. It seems this mode of divide and conquer survival in our home has unintentionally created a slight family divide and I miss my girl. My firstborn. The one I carried in my belly for nine months and nurtured through infancy to now while a scared shitless first time mom. And I know she misses me. So I have started to spend more time reconnecting with her in various ways:
Bedtime Snuggles. For over a year now, my husband has been the one in charge of putting my daughter to bed while I put the baby down to sleep. I would usually drift off to sleep without even saying goodnight to my daughter. When I’d wake up in the middle of the night I’d wander into her room to tuck her in. But this just isn’t cutting it anymore. I am trying to switch roles and put her down to sleep at night. I am finding this is my favorite time with her because she’s usually pretty mellow by then and I enjoy hearing all about her day and all that is going on in that little amazing head of hers.
Saying Yes More. My kids were sick last week, making life a little more challenging than usual. One day the baby was miserable, overtired, and refusing to nap. As I nursed and pleaded with him to fall asleep, my daughter was excitedly begging us to join her outside for a picnic she had arranged for the three of us. I kept shooing her away, telling her that I just needed to put her brother to sleep first, then I would join her outside. Well, the baby never ended up napping and then I had a conference call to jump on, so no picnic either. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that I came across this:
Her little picnic that she lovingly put together and that I totally missed. Cue knife in heart. That moment made me realize I have to start carving out more time and attention for my daughter. She is growing up fast and I feel like I am missing out when I am distracted and put other priorities before her.
Letting her act her age. Far too many times I catch myself saying: “You are old enough to know that!” or “Come on, I expect more from you!” But maybe she doesn’t. Maybe I should just let her be a kid, rather than the responsible, rational, almost five-year-old I want her to be. Letting go of my way-too-high expectations for this little kid will hopefully bring less anxiety and more love and acceptance into our home.
Parenting is not easy and I am by no means an expert at this. I am learning everyday to be more patient, more loving, and more relaxed but it is so hard. I often say that motherhood has brought new meaning to the phrase “One day at a time.” I am hopeful there will come a day when all of this will get a little easier.