Thursday, October 22, 2009 3:48 PM
by Abigail Green of “Diary of a New Mom”
On Sunday morning, my 3-year-old son, Miles, and I left Dad and the baby at home and went out for donuts. At least twice he said, “It’s just you and me, Mama, right? Only we get donuts.” His point was clear: “FINALLY, I get something all to myself that I don’t have to share with my little brother!”
Bringing home a new baby almost 8 mos. ago was a big adjustment for all of us. The hardest part for me – harder even than the postpartum mood swings and the not sleeping – was the guilt I felt about displacing my firstborn.
He had been the center of our family, our WORLD, for almost 3 whole years. I couldn’t imagine loving another child as much as Miles. I couldn’t imagine how HE would feel, suddenly having to share his home, his parents, his toys, EVERYTHING with a new sibling he never asked for.
And yeah, those first few weeks were rough. Miles was curious about the new baby and proudly held Riley on his lap for pictures, but his patience soon wore thin. He began acting out and throwing tantrums. My father-in-law had to carry him home from the park one day kicking and screaming when Miles refused to hold hands while crossing the street.
I seemed to bear the brunt of his bad temper. On more than one occasion he’d shout, “I don’t want you anymore, Mama!” Like a dagger in my heart. But he was perfectly sweet to the baby, kissing his head and tickling his tiny toes.
Then he changed tactics – if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So for the past 7 mos., I’ve had 2 “babies.” Almost every day without fail Miles says, “I’m a baby, too, Mama.” Sometimes the species varies and he’s a baby doggie or a baby kangaroo, but he’s always a baby. He pretends to cry, talks baby talk, and climbs into his brother’s crib.
I’ve tried several strategies to deal with this behavior. First, I went along with it. This only encouraged him. And my back is bad enough without hauling a 34-lb. “baby” around the house! Next, I tried ignoring it. But any mom who’s tried to make a phone call while a child vies for her attention can testify to their powers of persistence. And annoying-ness.
Finally, I tried reasoning with my son. “You know, being a big boy is MUCH more fun than being a baby,” I’d tell him. “Babies can’t eat pizza or ice cream or kick a ball or watch ‘Cars.’ Only big boys can do those things.” My PR campaign didn’t work. My clever son paused less than a minute before responding, “Well, THIS baby can eat ice cream.” The kid’s got an answer for everything.
So as we sat there eating our donuts the other day Miles said, “I don’t want Riley anymore. He takes my toys and eats them.” I tried to remain neutral. “Uh-huh. Well, sweetie, he’s just a baby. That’s what babies do. Someday he’ll be big enough to play with and you’ll be good friends.” Hoping that wishing will make it so. Miles considered this a moment and then said, “I do want Riley, Mama.”
For a moment, the crisis was averted. I had my big boy back, and it seemed he was slowly accepting the new world order. And with that, we licked the chocolate icing off our fingers and went home to the rest of our family.
Abigail Green is a freelance writer and mom to two boys, ages 3 years and 7 mos. She blogs under the name Mom2Miles at http://diaryofanewmom.blogspot.com/.
Filed under: mom, baby, sibling