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Divide and Conquer
In the car on our way to the beach last weekend, (Yes, we spend a lot of time at the beach. And yes, I managed to avoid basting the baby this time.) Hollis proclaimed that T is, "My Daddy," and, "Brother has Mommy."


Hit Mommy where it hurts, why don't you?

Yes, it hurts a bit whenever your child shows a preference for the other parent, but I have to admit there's a grain of truth in Big H's ownership proclamation.

When Little H was born, T and I had a divide and conquer approach to parenting. T was usually the point man for Hollis and I, the nursing cow, had Holden attached to me 24/7. I guess a little of that is expected when a new baby comes along. But still, I made special time for Hollis and took him to swimming lessons and even left Holden with our sitter a few times so I could have some Hollis-Mommy bonding time. And I've continued to try to spend time alone with each of my boys when I can.

Hollis, while introverted and reserved like me, has had an aloof and independent air about him since he reached toddlerhood. He's never really seemed to constantly need me the way Mr. Clingwrap Holden does. I assumed that once Holden got a bit older and stopped nursing, he would be more like Hollis. He'd want to do things on his own without parental interference or help. He would demand his independence the way Hollis did.

I'd forgotten the rule that No Two Siblings Shall Ever Be Alike.

Holden's little personality is still starting to emerge, but already he is about as different from Hollis as he can be. He's about as different from me and T as he can be.

He's outgoing. He's fearless. He's stubborn. (OK, maybe I am a bit stubborn too.) Nonetheless, Holden is not going to be a Follower of Rules like Mommy, T, and Hollis.

But he needs me. He clings to me. If I walk into a room, he wants to be held by me. He wants me to be actively involved in his play. He wants me to chase him, to show him how things work, and to be by his side. All of this in a way Hollis has never demanded.

Writing this down, I'm starting to realize the error of my ways. Hollis, because of his personality, will never demand anything of me in quite the way Holden will. I, of a similar personality, should know this. But when I hear "go away, Mommy" or "I do it, Mommy" from Hollis and "Up, Mommy," or "epp me" (help me in Holden-speak) from Holden, I give what is asked without question.

This isn't to say that I don't spend time with Hollis or that I don't snuggle Hollis or read to him or love him as much as Holden. Ah, I don't know where I'm going with all of this angst. The end result is that I like being needed by Holden. Perhaps at times I find it cloying, but for the most part I adore it.

T and I are making more of an effort to mix it up. A few weeks ago I took Hollis to the beach while Holden helped Daddy around the house. Every few nights we'll switch who does the evening routine for each child. And when Hollis makes a comment about how I belong to "Brother" I spend a few extra minutes chasing him around and tickling him after bath time.

Because I love Hollis, that sometimes sweet and sometimes solemn little boy of mine. He's so much like me.

Then last night, T and I were engaged in some horizontal parenting from the couch while the kidlets played before bed. Hollis crawled up on me and joined in the snuggle. He put his little head on my chest and said "You're my Mommy."

That's right, kiddo. I'm your Mommy.

Don't forget, Julie should have her Hump Day Hmmm list up tomorrow. This week she asked us to tackle our feelings upon waking from a 20 year coma like that poor guy in Poland last week. This is a really intriguing topic, but I just can't tackle this one. I tried and my attempt was just too horrible to post. And I have low standards. So, I apologize for not participating in this one, Julie. But I look forward to the next.

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Blogger PDX Mama said...

That Hollis sounds like a very sweet boy.

Isn't it amazing how very different children can be that come from the same parents? I wonder if some of it is related to birth order - the youngest is the loudest to scream for attention? My second is definitely more assertive than her older brother.

We actually have somewhat of an opposite scenario with parenting. I wasn't good w/the the divide and conquer thing (it kind of broke my heart to think my oldest would be daddy's boy, whereas I was stuck w/the baby!). With my oldest (son), he seems to have a slight preference for me. My youngest (daughter) is showing a clear preference for daddy right now. Maybe it's because he puts her to bed, while I put her brother to bed. It pisses me off that she prefers him, I feel they both owe me allegiance for all I want through carrying them in my womb ;-), but oh well, at least I'm (and they are) lucky that they have a good dad!

Anonymous Momish said...

I like the way you and your husband switch tasks with each of your little ones to make sure you get time with both.

It is true what they say that every sibling is different! And both sound like such wonderful children! Snuggle away!

Blogger slouching mom said...

We have the exact same dynamic in our family. And I mean the exact same dynamic. Eery...

Blogger Jenn said...

If I hadn't witnessed both of the Queens being removed from my body, I wouldn't believe they came from the same spot.

Blogger Julie Pippert said...

A. You are just lucky missy that I am busy this week and too poor to fly up there and *fix your wagon!* Next week! And maybe I'll make you come up with the topic, as your just desserts.

B. Isn't this the usual world order of kids? It has been in both of our families, world without end, and we are continuing the pattern.

You birthed an EXTROVERT LOL.

FWIW...gird your loins. Kids get a lot more creative beyond the "you're his mommy" rip your heart out and feed it to a lion for breakfast. At least mine do, but then they are *creative* and have *big personalities* not to mention are *all about the drama.* So maybe you'll be spared. The lucky thing is...you never callous up about it.


P.S. You must have skin pigment? To be able to be out in the sun so often.

Blogger Christine said...

I know that both my kids are very different in ways, and i know that we should never expect them to be alike, yet i find myself constantly astonished when my youngest acts so different from his sister.

Cute pictures, by the way!

Blogger Karen Rani said...

I'm here from CPA Mom. My kids are also SO very different. My oldest gravitates towards my hubby and the youngest towards me as well.

Your kids are adorable!

Blogger flutter said...

What fun ages, and isn't it so cool to see how the personalities develop?

Blogger CPA Mom said...

Just today, I had both kids crying and hitting each other as they both clutched at me saying "MY mommy, NOT your mommy"

Ugh. part of me feels loved. part of me wants to run to Australia post haste.

In general though, Tigger is more "mine" and Eeyore more "HP's" - she generally chooses him over me...until she spots Tigger hanging all over me...which is getting OLD with him being 47 lbs and all!

Blogger niobe said...

It's kind of comforting to think that at least part of personality is genetic since it takes some of the pressure off the parents to bring the child up "perfectly." But I'd think it might be hard at times to parent a child with a personality and preferences that are very very different than your own.

Blogger Amy W said...

I too find my two girls to be completely different personality wise.

And we too take turns each night with the two of them and their bedtime routines in hopes of not having one prefer the other.

Blogger Gwen said...

You have described my daughters pretty much perfectly. Except my youngest who is now 4 and very very verbal (and manipulative) goes one step further. When I do manage to detangle the little baby orangutan she's always been from around my neck and get to my 7 year old to stroke her hair and tell her I love her, the little one bursts into these huge crocodile tears: "You don't love me! You only love Charlotte! You only think Charlotte is pretty!"

Did I mention how very very manipulative she is?

Blogger Oh, The Joys said...

The Mayor prefers K, so I understand, friend. It is hard.

Blogger reevesfarm said...

The adjustment from 1 child to 2 children was much harder for me than the adjustment from 0-1. Guilt at not spending enough time with oldest, needs of new baby...

Blogger Orangeblossoms said...

It completely kills me when the youngest of our two (step)kids won't call me by name or run to me like his older brother. We have much less time with him per the custody agreement and it just feels rotten to be the third or fourth mothery person on the list after 'real mommy', daddy, and grandma... Do I not kiss the booboos when they sting? I hate the insecurity it brings out in me. It is harder still when older brother says that younger likes only 'family' people, not me. (but I am family, says I)

Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

PDX - I agree! They should be eternally grateful to me for giving birth. I demand a crown and sash and constant worship.

Momish - Is there anything better than a snuggle with toddlers?

Slouching Mom - It is eerily similar, isn't it? I often think that reading your blog and wonder if I'll be writing posts similar to yours a few years from now.

Jenn - Hmmm. Maybe that explains it. I didn't actually *see* either of them come out, although T swears he did.

Julie - I am incredibly excited about next week's topic and have ideas already. I'd been sketching out a similar post to go along with the new BlogHer campaign already. PERFECT! And yes, I've been blessed with olive toned skin that tans nicely. And I bathe in sunscreen. Hollis has, luckily, inherited my skin tone. Holden will just have to wear 50 sunblock and a hat for the rest of his life!

Christine - Thanks!

Karen - Thanks for coming by! And you're right, this was a deceptively innocuous (did I spell that correctly) comment!

Flutter - Yes, it's the best part.

CPA Mom - Yes, Hollis does that too. It's all about Daddy until brother is getting to much attention from Mommy.

Niobe - I'm already discovering that with my fearless youngest. I fear he will give me many more grey hairs in the years to come.

Amy - Yes, it does seem to help a bit to mix it up.

Gwen - Ouch. I can't wait. {/sarcasm}

OTJ - Yes, it is hard.

Reevesfarm - Yes, although I found I felt more guilty right before #2 was born. After that I was just too exhausted to think!

OB - Ooh, that *would* be a hard situation. And while my kids may do that to me too, I don't have to worry if it's just the "step" label or just a kid thing. I know it's just the kid thing.

Blogger Lady Liberal said...

Sounds like you have two smart well-adjusted boys who have a Mom trying to do the best she possibly can to nurture their very individual selves.
I've always read that preschoolers are very acutely aware of and interested in the concept of ownership and that kids living in the Western world tend towards dualistic thought and pairing. In other words, I wouldn't read too much into it. :) I think he's just trying to make sense of the world and his little mind can't quite get itself around the concept of how a mother's heart and body and soul can belong equally to many.
Heck, I can't get my own bean around that one most days. :)

Blogger Justice Jones said...

This sounds a lot like what is going on with Youngest. He is almost 14 months and he will not even let Daddy hold him or come his way if I'm in the room. It's really bad. Like you, when Youngest was born, he got 90% of my attention. With Hubby and the other two kids to split the last 10%. Well Daugther, who was just 16 months old when Youngest was born, is sick of it. Now I have Youngest and Daugther both demanding my full attention all the time. Then it becomes a competition. Who can cry the loudest, who will she pick up first, who will she carry to the car, etc., etc.
So today, I took Daugther with me to get a pedicure, we went for a nice walk afterwards, and we had a nice night. She actually enjoyed watching me get my pedicure. It was cute.

Blogger Mad Hatter said...

Great post. I have a couple of comments. My daughter is one of the clingy ones. It can be so overwhelming. In fact I don't think we'll have a second child because her clinginess is so profound and I don't know how I could possibly mother a newborn with Miss M around. The clinginess is special in its own way but there are times when it can make you doubt your sanity.

On another topic, I had a knock 'em down, drag 'em out fight with my husband a couple of weekends ago. He works 6 evenings a week and with Miss M being so clingy and demanding and with my having PMS at the time, I lost it: "I always come in third in this family," I shouted through sobs. "My needs are always the lowest priority." (Ah the sweet histrionics of PMS). My husband replied, "How many times a day do you hear your daughter say, 'He's NOT my best friend!!!!' I come in third in other ways." My heart broke for him. It must be so hard to feel our daughter's rejection so often and so keenly.

Blogger Busy Momma said...

I just had to comment on this one cuz I totally understand. Cooper is exactly the same. He's always been a little partial to Daddy but even more so since the twins were born. I was all about the twins, of course, they took up a lot of my time! So now Cooper will usually only sleep with Daddy at nite, and when he gets an owie it's Daddy he wants to kiss it better.

Blogger NotSoSage said...

Oh, it breaks my heart the way they connect to one parent over the other. Luckily, with only one child who tends to cycle through her adoration for each of us, I am mostly fulfilled, but I do get a little pang when she asks for her Daddy when I'm trying to help her or play with her.

Blogger SheilaAndChase said...

Ahhh my 'big C' is just like your little H. I must be activly involved in everything, even t.v. watching. Although he's very independant when it comes to dressing, or 'doing' things. Big hugs to you, I understand the clingwrap! But my 'little C' seems much more like your Big H. Funny how they can be so different, huh?

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