Two Boys, Twice The Guilt.

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?


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8 Responses to Two Boys, Twice The Guilt.

  1. Fiona says:

    I was four and a half when my brother was born and whilst I am sure I had to adjust, he has brought so much joy into my life over the years and is now one of my best friends. I know that my mum helped greatly by doing things like reading to me whilst she was breast-feeding my brother. Or when she needed to go for a walk to try and get my brother to sleep (by pushing the pram), then she would make it sound like the three of us were going on an adventure. She’d spend the time walking chatting to me all about my day. I had no idea at the time that she was also “doing” things for my brother, because it felt like I had her full attention. And just because you are finding it less stressful this time around (and consequently experiencing more joy), doesn’t take away from the love you feel towards your eldest son. One’s heart just grows in size, it doesn’t divide up.

  2. Vibeke says:

    I can’t begin to understand what you’re going through, hon, as I only have the one kid like you did before.
    But reading your blogpost made me think: You’ve mentioned what The Kid is losing out on by being a big brother now (your time, attention etc), but I’m sure he is also gaining and learning from this experience. I’m sure he’s learning invaluable lessons about sharing, loving and giving. And that’s something that I wish my little boy could learn. An additional plus: He’s old enough to be able to learn these lessons without it being a major factor in his development. He’s not at an age where he can’t understand why you need to ask him to wait until you tend to little one… he can process that.
    And if you need a laugh, go look at this: (it certainly helped me!)
    Sending hugs xoxoxo

  3. SheBee says:

    I totally agree with what Flea says above. The Kid is learning new things now, and although it might be different and challenging, you’ve given him the best thing a child could ever ask for: a sibling to play with, grow with, learn with, get up to shit with. And a sibling of his own gender too!

    Re: your guilt on feeling so much more chilled and affectionate, while I can’t relate as I’ve never had a second child, I completely, COMPLETELY understand what you mean with the first pregnancy. I was never that giddy mom who squished and squealed and babytalked Kiera. I was never one to do a million kisses or sing or tickle. I did what needed to be done and no more. Because I was terrified of her. Because I was only 19. Because of so many things.

    But never, not for a second, never let yourself think it’s because the first kid wasn’t as loved as your second. That undermines your feelings for him. I *know* what a good mother you are, and how much your kid adores you.

    You’re doing so well. I’m so proud of you. And I’m so blessed to be a passerby watching you grow into motherhood and looking after your own family. You’re the best you can be when you’re with them. Don’t ever doubt that.

    Love you xoxxo
    SheBee´s last blog post ..How to be a plane passenger in SA

  4. acidicice says:

    Same same with the second. She is much more chilled. An “easy” baby even. I’m more relaxed, I’m loving every moment of being her mom. Why couldn’t I feel this way with my son? Guilty. Add on top of that that I only managed to breastfeed the first for 3 weeks and have been breastfeeding my baby for almost 7 months now. Guilt, guilt, guilt. I get it.

    Going back to work was super hard. There were tears.
    acidicice´s last blog post ..Scandalous!

  5. NickiD says:

    I feel you. Mine were the other way around though. I found I spent my days with Luca as a newborn, squishing and snuggling him. He was easy and I adored him. I adored Mika too, but HOLY SHIT, he was a difficult baby. He’s a handful as a toddler. He’s HARD WORK, while Luca is a breeze. But that also causes problems. I now spend a lot of time allowing Mika to get away with stuff purely to avoid tears and tantrums. And poor Luca can’t understand how I let Mika off the hook so easily. The guilt is a killer. I try to do things with them individually, but it is hard. Sending love and hope to see you and both your boys soon xxx

  6. deborah says:

    Although Ive never met you personally I have followed your blog and twitter for a long time. Feeling guilt is a normal feeling for a mom when she has her second child. I have also been down that road where my daughter was an only child for 5 years before her brother came along. It was a bit adjustment for all of us she was at pre school but her “work” was still effected and as much as we tried to “keep things normal” with her it is very difficult specially while her brother was small. Luckily for me i did have my parents around for babysitting and stuff which also helped. I would say it does get easier (and at times it will be) but now with her being 7 and her brother almost 2 I often get asked when we acknowledge milestones of my son that my daughter will say “did you make such a fuss when i did that” or “did you video me also doing that” BUT in saying all of this my daughter absolutely adores her brother and watching them laugh and play together takes most of the guilt away.

  7. Shelli NT says:

    I have been thinking about this ever since I read it – and can relate to it so completely. There is a massive 7 year gap between Kayla and Isabella (now 5 months), and it has been an enormous adjustment all round. Like you, the adjustment to having a second baby from a parental perspective has been tiny – this little bundle seems so much easier and less overwhelming than the first. I also have to wonder if it’s maybe because she might be our last. But the impact on Kayla has been so big – even though she wanted a sibling so badly. I guess, for me, what makes it slightly easier is the fact that we have given her a huge gift for the rest of her life – there is just nothing like a sibling when you are older. I just hope they get on when they are younger too!

  8. Angel says:

    Oy ExMi… So succinct…
    Angel´s last blog post ..Have you ever…

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