When it comes to being a mother, I’d say the most pervasive emotion is that of guilt. Sure, love is there. But secondary to guilt.
This new baby has brought with him a whole new level of guilt. I knew he would change my life, but I had no idea how. I feel guilty that my firstborn is no longer the centre of my universe. That he no longer has my immediate attention when he needs it. That sometimes I have to ask him to wait, because I’m busy with his new brother.
He’s extremely excited about his little brother, and loves showering him with affection and helping out and I can’t find fault with him in that regard at all. In fact, I can’t fault with him on anything, because none of the changes in our lives have been caused by him. His father and I have brought all the changes into his life. From a new school at the beginning of the year, to a new house and a new brother in the last few weeks. It’s been overwhelmingly stressful. Unpaid maternity leave has been stressful. Unpacking five year’s worth of boxes has been stressful. And that’s just for me. I have the ability to pinpoint what’s causing my stress – he doesn’t. He’s had all of the same stresses as me, just no idea of what they are or what they mean.
It’s been hard on him, the last few months. His school work has been affected, his teacher has been concerned. His attitude has been affected. His confidence has been affected. I really had absolutely no idea how big of an impact such a tiny little baby could have on my firstborn’s life. I knew things would be different and that it would mean more work for me – but I never had any idea how it would affect my eldest son. And that’s where the guilt comes in. And the guilt relates mainly to him.
Guilt that I changed so much of his life, without really thinking about it. Without thinking about the impact of another child, when he’s been the centre of our world for so long. Guilt that he sometimes has to take the backseat, because I can’t very well explain to a seven-week old baby that I can’t feed him right now, because his brother needs me. Guilt that we’ve deprived him of being the centre of our universe.
Guilt that I’m enjoying The Toffee as a baby much more than I did The Kid. The Toffee seems easier, more relaxed and nowhere near as demanding as my firstborn was. Guilt that I’m more chilled this time around. Guilt that The Toffee’s birth was more relaxed than The Kid’s was. Guilt that there seems to be no post-natal depression and I’m able to function and cope better with this new baby.
Every time I delight in The Toffee’s newly-discovered ability to smile, or I shower him with kisses, I feel guilty because I don’t remember doing this with The Kid. Both were unplanned, so is it the fact that I’m older now, that makes it possible for me to feel more comfortable with a baby? Or is it because I’ve done it before? Why couldn’t I have felt the same about my first baby? I love The Kid unconditionally now, but the post-natal depression coupled with inexperience as a mother and the selfishness of being much younger, seems to have made it difficult for me in the beginning.
We’ve been trying our best to help The Kid adjust, once we realised that it was, in fact, problematic. We’ve tried to set aside special bonding time. The Fiance and I took him to the zoo last week, and left the baby with Granny. He had his own special day. The Fiance took him to the movies for some father-son time. I’ve taken both boys to the park down the road. I cuddle with both my boys. We’re trying our best to stick to a routine for both boys. And it’s not that bad while I’m at home. But what happens when I go back to work? What happens when I need to be away from my family from 8AM-4PM?
And that’s what I’m battling with right now. Firstborn guilt and working mom guilt. How do you deal with that? How did you deal with making your firstborn feel special after the arrival of a sibling? How did you manage with going back to work and leaving not one this time, but two, behind?