It’s one of the first worries most parents who are expecting number two have. It was something I often thought about but brushed it aside considering my sister has four kids and seems to manage with balancing four personalities. But lately the sting of the reality of caring for a baby alongside a four year old has crept in. The last few weeks, as I look at the curls lengthening on Little Missus’ head, I wonder if she’s losing out as Little Bean demands more attention. I truly feel outnumbered and underpowered.
The past few weeks have been trying as Little Bean has gone head first into a massive development leap, has mastered crawling and is attempting cruising. She’s definitely been teething but no new buds have popped up yet, just mountains of drool. She’s been eating more and sleeping less. All of this has caused Momma Bear to be split in two like a banana split but without the whipped cream and sprinkles.
I’m exhausted. Truly, utterly and terrifyingly exhausted to the point of dizziness. The type of tiredness where the short fuse has been permanently lit. With Little Bean craving attention but not knowing what to do with it, I see no end to this awkward, oh so awkward, and trying phase.
Attempting to keep my head up and in the right space, the kids clean and the house in some sort of order has been difficult but I’ve managed to a degree. And I’ve only two kids. I can only imagine how much harder it is with four or seven.
What I’ve worried about is the amount of time I’ve been able to give Little Miss. I will admit that today I gave her the iPad for three hours to browse through Netflix and record her voice as a chipmunk which, as cute and funny as it is, doesn’t replace the attention she needs from Momma Bear.
I don’t feel too ashamed, guilty or a failure as a Mum for caving and allowing an electronic babysitter to frequent our house more often than the scientists and behavioural therapists tell us we should. Mostly because, dear god, I needed to know she was somewhat preoccupied while Little Bean clawed her way up my chest and attempted to vault over my shoulders for the 58th time.
I haven’t had a good nights sleep in weeks and it finally caught up on me, typically on a day when the baby was having her own hellish day and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her.
I ran through the list: teething, hungry, nappy, sore stomach, tired, thread around a toe and even got the flashlight out to see if there was something stuck under her nose. There was no definitive answer.
As my head began to burn from her incessant whines, moans and screams, Little Miss made a makeshift tent under the windowsill and burrowed down for the afternoon with the iPad, periodically peeping out for some Easter eggs, water or to answer me when I called out, “Kiddo, how are you doing?” just to make sure she was still breathing under there.
She seemed fine. In fact she was quite content and happy playing the violin on the iPad and switching back to watch Air Buddies every so often. All I wanted was to hug her and thank her for giving me some space to look after her baby sister who clearly wouldn’t let me out of her sight.
These days have been somewhat common lately and whether it’s the TV or the iPad, Little Miss has had to find her own entertainment while Momma Bear attempts to appease the baby. I never wanted my time to be split but I never thought that the split would be so strongly against Little Miss who has had all of my attention for so long.
She’s a good kid. I’d like to say she understands and to a degree I imagine she does, but that doesn’t mean it’s fair. And when you’re four, things never seem fair, so there have been some tantrums and unreasonable demands from her and from me.
And I know these days won’t last forever. It’s the mantra I give to Papa Bear as he walks in from a tough day at work to a frazzled house. These days won’t last forever. Which is great and all to say, but when you’re living them and the door seems firmly locked to any sort of future, you can’t help but feel as though falling flat on your face would be less painful than being an adult for that day.
I think in some ways I’m waiting for someone to tell me that’s it’s all ok, these things happen, it’s only a phase, a part of parenting, a part of growing up, that I’m doing a good job.
Until then, maybe I’ll plough into the babies Easter eggs tonight since she won’t be eating them. As a way to say, well done, fair play, you got through another tough day and the four year old didn’t go to bed hating you or thinking that you’ve abandoned her or that you love her less.
Because yes, I’m terrified that she will think I’m choosing her sister over her, that I love the baby more, that I’d rather spend time with her. The baby days are the hardest (I think, I’ve yet to live through too many stages but they can’t be worse than this can they? Don’t answer that! I’m fragile enough as it is!) And with Little Bean being past the ten month mark now, we’re getting there. We’re getting there.