I’ve got a confession to make, it’s been a realisation and an awakening over the last little while that I’m quite embarrassed to admit.
The other day a fellow mum was explaining her children and referred to her 2.5 year old as ‘the baby’. I assumed she meant a younger child but was corrected when she confirmed the age of her Bub. In my mind a baby is really just that until they start running about and stirring up trouble, probably around 18months. But I stopped at that thought and considered my own daughters, one 9 months and the other just about to reach 2.5yrs. The eldest was always referred to as my toddler (since Lucia was born), her height is off the scale for her age so people always assume she is aged about 3-4, she’s been a talker from early on so her chatty ways mean you’re often holding long conversations with her (minus some real words and with the addition of some made up lingo). But referring to her as a baby?! Well no, I wouldn’t ever consider it. Having kids so close together (19 months) has meant I have unintentionally assumed my oldest daughter should grow and mature far quicker than in reality she has or even should.
Rosalia would pray for cuddles and attention when Lucia was brought home from hospital, and whilst I’d do my best post C-section I couldn’t lift her and support her for many weeks after and ultimately that was really tough for her to understand, and for me to see. Rosalia has from the very first moment adored her sister but at 19 months couldn’t understand why she wasn’t the centre of my earth anymore, she didn’t understand why she had to share that place and so would react with hits and jabs to her baby sister and myself. For that I introduced ‘time out’ very quickly and would place Rosalia in her room to sit and consider her actions whilst often giving me a few minutes to feed and console my new born. That behaviour continued but slowly improved, but I found myself continually asking Rosalia ‘why would you do that?’ ‘Why would you want to hurt your sister’ . These are questions that a not yet 2yr old doesn’t understand and in my recent realisation I’ve come to terms with the fact I’ve expected far too much from my oldest daughter. I expected her to know what breastfeeding time meant, that sitting quietly and reading whilst Lucia fed was important. I expected Rosalia to understand what it meant to lower your voice when the baby was sleeping, try as I might to teach her she’s only just cottoned on. – imagine loud yelling and screams for “CIA WAKE UP” just when I’d finally hummed, rocked and shushed my babe to sleep.
I would never have expected Rosalia to grow up so quickly if I didn’t have a new born baby to compare her actions to. I wouldn’t have placed all these expectations on her had I not had a second baby so soon after having her. This is something that I would never have thought about as a mother of one but wonder now as a mother of two how I let these expectations become normal and for that I’m certainly feeling a lot of mothers guilt.
I’ve really noticed now as Lucia begins to crawl and pull herself up on things, talk and make sounds, that Rosalia wants to experience the same thing. Rosalia wants me to repeat sounds and lullabies more than before. Rosalia asked to be walked around holding my hands for support & assistance to stand and hold herself up against surfaces which she’s more than capable of doing herself but now she sees me helping her sister she wants the same treatment.
This heartbreaking realisation that I do still have two babies came when I was blowing raspberries on Lucia’s tummy and throwing her up in the air. Rosalia asked to have the same done to her which naturally I am always happy to do (whilst I can still manage to lift her). But in that moment Rosalia turned and asked ‘make me the baby mama’ my heart broke a little, she is my baby. She is a long lanky, 4 year old looking toddler with attitude but I’ve forgotten that for all the show and confidence, tanti’s and performances she really is still my baby who loves to be rocked to sleep in my arms and cuddles- not always because she is Miss Independent but when she needs soothing she wants that comfort and treatment I’m willing to offer her. So whilst my back can still somewhat manage it I will continue to rock, hold, carry and cuddle both of my babies, at least until that independence really kicks in and they want nothing to do with me!