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9/09/2006
Torn Between Two Children

I have two children under two. Well, Hollis is almost two - his birthday is in one week. Holden, our 8 month old, was an oops. We didn't plan to have our kids this closely together. In fact, I think my husband's exact words when I told him I was pregnant were "Oh, fuck." But now that they're here, we're doing the best that we can. Of course, everyone tells us the same BS about how they'll play together when they're older, we'll get diapers out of the way all at once, blah, blah, blah. The reality has been 3 years of raging hormones, sleepless nights, and countless hours of PBS Sprout. (Am I the only one totally annoyed by the Bernstain Bears?)

We thought the one benefit to having children 15 months apart was that Hollis wouldn't be old enough to resent the baby or remember a time when he didn't have to share his Mommy and Daddy. Oh were we wrong.....

Two nights ago Hollis was having a Daddy night. Daddy had to give him a bath. Daddy had to read to him. Daddy had to play with him. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. (I only carried him for 9 months and made myself into a human pincushion for him. No biggy. I'm just Mommy.) Anyway, I settled myself on the loveseat while T & Hollis had their love fest on the couch. T & Hollis read some books and then it was time for Pingu on PBS Sprout. For those of you that have never seen Pingu, it's a claymation cartoon about a naughty but sweet little penguin, his family and friends. There are no words to the cartoon, but you can always tell exactly what the penguins are "talking" about in their little pingu penguin language. In that night's episode, Pingu was feeling neglected while his mother cared for his little sister, Pinga. He intentionally woke her up and then desperately tried to get his mother's attention while she fed, rocked, and played with Pinga. Pingu ends up hiding in the toy box in tears when his mother finally notices & comes over to hold him. Hollis watched the cartoon intently. This is pretty rare for him - he usually watches the cartoon for a minute or two and then plays with his Legos while half watching the rest. But not this time. He watched the entire cartoon with rapt attention and pointed and said "oh no" several times when Pingu was upset. When it ended, he waited a moment and seemed to be thinking. Then he climbed down, ran over & threw himself at me. Awwwwww. Then we had a little snuggle on the couch before he went to bed. Clearly Hollis identified with Pingu....

I don't know why it surprises me so when I discover what's going on in that little head of his. I just know that I felt guilty, guilty, guilty after I put Hollis to bed that night. I like to think that I make lots of special time for him, but I know that he's upset when he wants Mommy to hold/play with/read to him and I'm nursing/changing/rocking the baby. Now that Holden is more mobile it's actually becoming worse as I chase my little crawling H-man around the house. I discussed it with T that night and he reassured me that I'm as egalitarian as I can be with my time, love and attention. I know that parents of singletons have this same problem. Toddlers are, after all, black holes of parental attention who will suck every last ounce of energy out of us if given the chance. I'm just overwhelmed with the thought that I will never be able to give either of my boys as much attention as they would like. I'd love to know how all you moms out there make it work!

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5 Comments:

Blogger Amer said...

OK...you have me tearing up! I sooooo emphathize with you on the 'not feeling as if you have enough time for them'. I felt that way with Peyton and have said to Andy...'She didn't get to be our baby for that long...is that fair to her?' I have a lot of mommy guilt after the kids are asleep and it is quiet in the evening hours...your thoughts begin to ramble throughout the day on how you could have handled yourself better. The best thing to do is remember those feelings the next day and make better with what you learned. I asked my mother in law if you ever stop worrying about your kids and her answer was she still worries about them.

It is the best job in the world.

By the way, I have a loathing feeling for 'Noddy'...Cole laughs at Pingu all the time...stupid penguin!

Blogger lildb said...

oh, man. that's some good stuff in your post. I heart Pingu, much more than my almost-fourteen-month-old. and I so get the diss from him on an almost-nightly basis when my husband's home, b/c of the preference issue. it's been bumming me out a LOT lately. gah.

you know, worrying about the forced sharing of yourself b/w your sons is such a normal thing. I totally do it, too. my son is a complete mommy-daddy vortex re: our attention, and it never seems enough, and I always end up feeling guilty, so I comfort myself w/the knowledge that he will recall zilch from these years anyway, other than what we mark in video footage. iow, mehhh.

I guess we all just have to keep struggling along.

fun!

Blogger PunditMom said...

They're little attention sponges .. the more they get, the more they seem to be able to soak up. I have a "singleton," and if I gave her my undivided attention 24/7, it would still never be enough for her.

On some levels, I am lucky, because I know that soon enough this love-filled little first-grader will be spewing teen attitude my way and there will be no more, "Mommy, can't we just cuddle for a few more minutes?" So I try to forget the fact that I didn't get an writing or editing done this weekend and will try to prop my eyes open with toothpicks tonight after she's in bed to finish!

Blogger ExPatSW said...

I feel for you, I really do. Even with only one child, parents experienced the same anxieties. Celeste hated sharing me with Drew and Aimee and any of the other kids (except you, of course). She was miserable when Bryan stayed with us.

If kids had their way, both parents would be at their beck and call 24-7. As happy as they think that would make them, it wouldn't be healthy. So, you do the best you can do and one day your child will look at you and say, "You know, you were a really good mom." And, you forget all of the sleepless nights and stressed out days wondering if you are totally damaging your child and wondering how much the therapy will cost you down the road.

Blogger donita said...

wow, i too have two kids. and i get to sleep with guilt especially when my husband is out-of-town for a night or two.

but there's always tomorrow and we really do the best we can.

at the end of the day, we just have to "forgive" ourselves and recognize that after all, we only have 1 self.

and kids are more self-sufficient than we give them credit for.

i'd like to think of our attention to them as "ice cream" for them. they really can never have enough of the good thing, right?

just take each day as it comes...

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