As a fairly new mother of two, I knew it was coming, and didn’t know how to prevent it, guilt. I’m talking about how you feel when you’re paying attention to your new baby cooing or rolling over for the first time, while you’re 2 year old is saying, “mama, jumpy jumps”, because she just wants to play with you. Or how when you’re playing with your 2 year old in the play room, enjoying a tea party, coloring, painting, or lately, having her animals visit her doll house friends, your baby wakes from her nap screaming and needs your immediate attention, and you say, “ugh”, because you were having such a nice moment.
I strive for the fair factor every day, basically the feeling that I spent about the same amount of time with both girls. Whether it’s all three of us, or one on one, as soon as my youngest, Addison, falls asleep for a nap, I jump at the chance for an activity where I can devote my undivided attention to Brianna, my 2 year old. Maybe bring out the finger paints, build a castle—she’s even getting really good at having a pass with a ball, whatever it is, so she can feel special.
I do the same when Addison wakes up in the morning before Brianna. I sit with her as she rolls around on her mat, encouraging her to grab a toy, or try to say “mama” because “dada” has already come out of her mouth!
Rolling your eyes? That’s really what I strive for, but that’s not what generally happens. On other days, those sought after moments are interrupted by necessary phone calls, a load of laundry, vacuuming or making sure I have something in the house for dinner. But it breaks my heart when I’m in the middle of doing one of my chores (that my husband always says can wait, even though that means the house would be even messier than it is now and there’s only so many compromises I can make) and Brianna says, “Mama, come play with me.” It makes me sad and frustrated at the same time. It’s because every time I get those solo moments with each one of my daughters, I feel like it’s an opportunity to make them feel special and to learn something and to have one of those moments in the day. But I’ve realized, those days, can’t be every day. Just the other day, instead of spending the same time in the play room like I do with them every morning after both of them are dressed and fed, I had to throw on babyfirstTV because I had to make a couple of phone calls, pay bills and throw in a load of laundry. I know, deep down, it’s necessary and that I shouldn’t feel bad, and that they don’t think I’m a bad mom because I can’t play with them every second. However, when Addison was born, I expected Brianna to flip a switch like me. As soon as Addison falls asleep, I jump at the chance to break out the Play-Doh, or color or whatever Brianna wants to do, because in my head, I’m thinking, ok, we have a half an hour before Addison wakes up, but kids don’t work like that. So just as much as I’ve asked Brianna to be patient and consider her sisters schedule sometimes, I really have to take my own advice. I NEED to take a deep breath more often, and let her do her own thing sometimes and at her own pace, because she’s not me, and she’s 2! I also NEED to give myself a break and know that my daughters are happy and healthy and so smart and part of that is because of me.