From the Mommy Files…

Archive for April 2010

AKA…The Green-Eyed Monster Strikes Again!

What is it about kids and sibling rivalry? Is it an instinct they are born with? Someone always feels like they are getting enough attention, or aren’t as loved as much as a sibling or doesn’t have the same privileges, and on and on and on.

BooBoo was 2 when Bebs came into the picture. We did everything we could to prepare her. We asked her if Bebs could have her old clothes; she said yes. She helped me get things ready for baby. We talked to her about the baby and what an important job it is to be a big sister. She’d speak to my belly and call Bebs by name. It became a ritual; I hoped these chats would continue once Bebs was born. Well, sometimes.

I remember when BooBoo and Bebs first met. I was preparing to leave the hospital and BooBoo came in the room with Daddy. She said, “Mommy has a baby!” She was very excited, touched her sister gently and kissed her. Then we gave her a gift from her new sister: a Dora nightgown and a tea set, which BooBoo decided was the best present ever. Her new baby sister was quickly elevated to awesome status.

The first few months were great, no problems. BooBoo would bring me diapers; she’d pick out Bebs’ outfits. We congratulated her on being a wonderful big sister.

Then one day, the Green-Eyed Monster showed up. It’s as if, someone whispered in BooBoo’s ear: “Hey kid, this little one is cute, but she’s not going anywhere. She’s staying! And you’re going to have to share Mommy. People will ooh and ahh over her, and not spend as much time with you!”

BooBoo began to have occasional bouts with the Green-Eyed Monster, yanking toys away, interfering with nursing. It didn’t last long though. We’d go back to normal fairly quickly.

Now every so often, that monster rears its ugly head.  BooBoo has this little “Etch-a-Sketch”-like doodle pad. This seems to be a toy that EVERY kid wants to play with! Bebs likes it. I tried to purchase another one but couldn’t find it. So the girls would share it, and it usually wasn’t a problem.

Recently at Walgreens, I found an Etch-a-Sketch – it was bigger – but same idea with the stylus. Something told me to buy 2. I should always listen to my instincts. I gave it to BooBoo since she was bigger, and told Bebs the little one was for her. Not a good idea. Bebs wanted the big one, though they played with it last night without issue.

This morning was an entirely different story. They fought over it, and I ended up taking it away. We had the talk about sharing and all that.

 The girls moved on to “baking a cake.” BooBoo pulled out a cake pan and some other utensils and they seemed to be playing OK together. I went to refill my coffee. I heard some inaudible chattering, and then, “BOOM!” Bebs fell and hit her head. I raced to her, and Daddy asked BooBoo how her sister fell. Her response, through tears: “She took the big Etch-a-Sketch and I wanted her to have the little one, so I pushed her!” Well, BooBoo went to time out – kicking and screaming – and within 30 seconds, Bebs was back to normal and asking to get down and walk. Later BooBoo muttered something about Bebs and I being up early without her – she’d slept in. Ah-ha.

So what is this phenomenon with the Green-Eyed Monster? Why do kids get jealous? We try really hard to give the same amount of attention, the same amount of kisses and hugs. Is it just the PERCEPTION that they aren’t getting what they think they should get, when they want it? Or, do we really give more to one than the other? Good questions. There is occasionally some difference, based what’s happening at the time.

We just keep moving forward. We reiterate how we don’t hurt each other; we share; we love our sister and that she’s our best friend in the whole world. And most of the time, she is. It’s unfortunate that we can’t give hugs and kisses without thought – we have to think about if the other is nearby and if we can do the same for them too; will someone be jealous? Oh well. It’s how we keep the Green-Eyed Monster at bay – though it’s not foolproof. Oh yes, and always buy 2 of these favorite items!


OK, you’re chuckling. Yes. It’s funny. What do they say, out of the mouths of babes? I have to remind myself that my daughter is only 3, and she isn’t trying to be cruel. However, we all pause a moment when we hear that our backside is, well, on the large side.  

One day I was giving my daughter a bath and she started asking questions. She asked why a girl in her preschool class is bigger than her. I told her that the girl is a little bit older, so she’s had more time to grow. She responded, “What if I drink more milk?” I told her to go for it.

The conversation continued. She asked me, did she have a little nose. I said yes. She asked did she have nice eyes, and I said yes. Then she said, “Do I have a little butt?” I said, “Yes, and it’s a cute little butt!” We both had a giggle.

I was rinsing her hair when the truck hit me. “Mommy, why is your butt big?” Huh? “What?” I asked. She said, “Mommy, you have a big butt!”  I was taken aback. I didn’t know what to say. “Thanks a lot!” I said and finished the bath quickly, without saying much. I was speechless. OK, so I am a little self-conscious of my body these days, what mother isn’t? So I didn’t even stop to think, did I have a “nice” big butt a la J.Lo, or was it a just big ole’ butt?

I put her to bed and my husband asked me why I was so quiet. “I don’t know,” was my response. “Don’t be upset with her,” he said. “She’s just a kid. In comparison, your butt is bigger than her butt. She’s not telling you that you’re fat.” OK, so like it does for many of us, the “you’re fat” played over and over in my mind, until the song “Baby Got Back” took over. After sulking for a bit, I went to look in the mirror.

Hmmm….Well, it ain’t what it used to be. I look, from this side, from the other side, from the back. You’ve done it too. It’s not that big. I’m still wearing a size 4, but sometimes they don’t fit as nicely as they used to. How did this happen?

“Baby Got Back” has stopped playing in my head, but “I’m Too Sexy” hasn’t started up yet either. Pregnancy really changes your body. I didn’t have a clue how much. I have to learn to like my post-pregnancy body. It’s never going to be what it was before. I weigh what I did pre-children. Things just aren’t, well, where they were before. It’s like gravity has attacked me. I’d heard of this phenomenon before. I just hoped it wouldn’t happen to me.

The time has come. It’s time to get back on a regular workout routine. I have to make this new body the best it can be, not so my little one doesn’t tell me that my butt is big, but rather so I can feel good about the new me. Hmmm…how long do you think it will take to get a flat stomach again? OK, how about flatter? Give me a couple of weeks, I’ll let you know. I’m going to get in shape. I’m hitting the gym. My hot babe status is about to be reclaimed. LOL. Summer’s coming.  I double dog dare me. And you too.

Keeping Traditions Alive – No Matter What

We’re Greek Orthodox, and recently, we celebrated the most important feast of the entire year – Easter. My husband and I began hosting holiday celebrations, because we like to entertain, but more importantly, to keep traditions alive. In my own family, I noticed that the traditions were slowly being left behind – it was as if we were forgetting where we came from. It’s a similar story in my husband’s family. I decided a long time ago, that it was my mission to keep the traditions alive – no matter what. OK, I can’t take all the credit. My beloved grandmother, also named Maria, came to me in a dream, shortly after her death. She said, since I was the only one who seemed to show any interest in our culture, it was up to me to keep it going. I took her words very seriously. She never, ever steered me wrong.

Now there is doing a traditional thing here or there, and there is going all out. Mind you, I cannot do things half way, so yes, I go all out. It’s that important. I can just hear you now – absolutely, I am crazy. With the 3 year-old and the 1 year-old underfoot – sometimes screaming because they’d rather play – I keep at it. Traditions are alive and well in this family.

My 3 year-old has now become my trusted helper. When she was a baby, the only way I could getting any sort of baking done was to put her in her high chair, give her some cookie cutters, spatula, measuring spoons and cups, etc., and let her “bake” too. When she was big enough, she wanted to do some actual baking herself. She loves to mix the ingredients. We use this as learning time as well. She counts how many cups or spoonfuls; we watch the clock to determine when to add the next ingredient. It’s also a time when I explain things to her about the holiday, and of course, about my beloved grandmother, whose recipes I use quite a bit. I tell her about our big family celebrations. As my cousins have married and attend holiday gatherings with in-laws, ours are getting smaller. I long for those big boisterous celebrations – especially at Easter.

This year we got the 1 year-old into the act. We put her in the high chair and gave her things so she could “bake” and then we let her taste-test after the cookies had cooled. She didn’t like this at Christmas, but she was very into it this holiday. Somehow she made the connection that you put things in the bowl and stir. I couldn’t believe it when I saw her stirring and there was milk and a cookie in the bowl!

Sure they get bored, and want to do other things sometimes, so I try not to overwhelm them. Now, mind you, the 3 year-old gets upset if she finds out that I made something without her! If you ask her, she can tell you why all the Easter eggs are colored red, and that it’s her godparents that send her a decorated candle to use during the candlelit Resurrection service at midnight on Easter Sunday. Sometimes I forget that she’s 3, though shortly thereafter, she usually reminds me!

It’s important to start from when they are very small, so it’s ingrained, so they grow up with it. When they are younger, they are more receptive. We feel the same about church. I didn’t grow up going to church much, since my father owned a restaurant and always worked, and my mom didn’t drive. When I got older and went to church alone, it took a while to get comfortable and learn about things. I’m still learning. I always want my kids to feel that comfort, to feel the warmth. The people at church are an extended family, and I want my children to know them. I want them to be around the church as much as possible, for Greek school and other activities, designed to help them learn about our religion and to grow spiritually.

For some, this model doesn’t work, but do I believe the closer we keep them to their roots, the greater the chance that we can perpetuate our cultures. Everyone should be proud of where they come from. We didn’t all just magically appear here. It makes us who we are. We all came from a proud culture. In a melting pot society, where we are often pressured to assimilate, it’s incumbent upon us to teach our children where they came from, who they are, and what their background is. If they are of multiple ethnicities, great – there’s so much more for then for them to discover. These things are all part of them and makes them who they are. And why not share your culture with friends? I love learning about other cultures. I’m fascinated by their traditions.

To me this is as important as feeding my children. I’m also nourishing their minds, hearts and souls. So if this means, I don’t sleep in the days leading up to a holiday; that the laundry piles up; that I get very stressed in the preparations; that sometimes I could pull my hair out…just bring me some Epsom salts to soak my feet in after the big party. No matter what – the celebrations will continue. I’m proud of where I come from; we all should be proud of and celebrate our roots. If we don’t keep the traditions alive, they’ll be lost forever.

I keep all this in mind, even as the 3 year-old sings the triumphant hymn, “Christ is Risen” – in Greek – 20 times in a row. She’s excited that she knows it and can sing with everyone. And I am proud. On to the next holiday!

Girls are supposed to be made of sugar and spice, right? Unfortunately, not all of them are. My 3 year-old began preschool this past January. She loves school. She attends every day in the morning. In fact, she recently asked if she could stay all day. She’s learning a lot and we are pleased.

A girl at school, who is 4, has decided that my daughter is going to be her “pet project.” Well, this girl bullies my daughter so much, that lately she tells me she is afraid to go to school because she doesn’t know what this girl will do.

It started early on. My daughter is very easy going, and she doesn’t tattle. She lets kids bother her and won’t say a word. And, being the new girl, she was an easy target. One day my daughter came home and said “Angela (not the girl’s real name) said she was going to throw me in the garbage can.” I told her not to pay attention to Angela, that Angela wasn’t much bigger than her and couldn’t possibly throw her in the garbage can. I also told her to tell the teacher whenever Angela bothered her. She refuses.

As time has gone on, my daughter has begun to choose her outfits and accessories, based on what is acceptable to “Angela.” She says she can’t wear a bow or headband because Angela will take it, or she’ll keep pulling off her head. WTF? Again, I told my daughter to bring all of this to the teacher’s attention when it occurs. Nope.

For one week, Angela and her sister were sick and not in school. My daughter was so happy. Actually, I think that was the week she requested to stay at school all day. As soon as “Angela” returned, she began to not want to go to school, or would insist that I come at recess time so Angela couldn’t bother her. I sat her down for a little chat. I explained to her, that sometimes people are not nice, and when they are not nice, we should stay away from them. There are plenty of other kids to play with, and I told her that if Angela wanted to play with her, to politely say no and walk away.

Every morning we’d drive to school and my daughter would ask if I was going to be around at school (since I volunteer sometimes), in case Angela was to bother her. When I’d say no, she would get upset.

One day last week, we’d arrived at school a bit early, and the kids gather with all the teachers in another room until it’s time for class to start. In front of her teacher and Angela’s teacher, I tried to get my daughter to say something about what Angela does. Finally she said, “I can’t wear the bow Mommy. Take it home, so Angela doesn’t take it or throw it.” The teacher quickly dismissed it as kids’ play. I thought, for now I’m going to let it go. I love the teacher and the program. In less than 3 months, my daughter has learned more than I ever imagined. I don’t think she’d just blow it off, but if the bullying is not observable to the teacher and the child being bullied doesn’t complain, then what can she do? Since my daughter provides a daily report – and she’s expressing fear of this girl –  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it or try to do something about it.

On Fridays, I help prepare hot lunch. This past week, I witnessed Miss Angela in all her glory. I was holding my 13 month-old, and a bunch of the kids came over to see her. I squatted down so they could be at eye level. Angela came over, looked me square in the eye, with more attitude than most people I know, and said to me, “You go stand over there. I’m going to play with the baby!” I looked at her and said “Excuse me?” to which she replied, “That’s what I said.” Well, I thought I was going to lose it. But I blew it off. She’s 4 for pete’s sake. I encouraged the other kids to come closer to play with the baby. Angela was getting visibly upset and started telling the kids to move out of the way – even pushing them – because she wanted to play with the baby and they better move.  When she got near the baby I stood up and told her that we were leaving. She gave me the dirtiest look. It gave me the feeling that no one has ever told her no or not done as she said. I left there thinking, her parents are so nice. Her sister is so sweet. How does this happen?

One day last week, my daughter told me she was afraid to go to school, because Angela would be there. This afternoon when I picked her up, her teacher told me that my daughter was crying a little at lunch time, and a little apprehensive about playing with the kids, but then the teacher asked one of the kids to take her by the hand, and she went to play without any problem. I told her that this morning she didn’t want to go to school, because she’s afraid of Angela. The teacher again dismissed it, and said that the girl was not a problem. I told her that the girl is bossy and I have witnessed it for myself. She insisted that it wasn’t a problem. I don’t agree. I don’t want my daughter to be afraid to go to school. And you can’t exactly approach a parent about their child, because we all feel that our kids are perfect. I don’t know about you, but mine certainly aren’t. They’re kids for crying out loud! They’re trying to figure it all out. They’re learning to be independent, and pushing the boundaries whenever possible. They want to see how much they can get away with, but it’s our job to put them back in reality. And I don’t mean with physical force.

At the same time, I have to figure out how to get her to stand up for herself. How do I get her to not be a bully herself? I guess we’ll have to keep working on this one. There’s no answer. Hey, where’s the instruction manual? I wish it were as easy as saying we won’t play with her, but she goes to the same school. We can’t avoid her. All the other kids this year are nice, but there’s bound to be a bully next year, or in an activity she goes to. It’s inevitable – we all have to deal with bullies.  Someday Angela will get bullied, and she won’t know what hit her. Hopefully, when the time comes, she will do the right thing.

As of Friday, our bully was behaving for most of the week, though this morning my daughter said she couldn’t wear a bow in her hair because Angela will pull it out. Then she told me she might play with her at recess. Come on! I don’t get it. Is she a glutton for punishment?

In yesterday’s Sunday insert in the Chicago Tribune, there was an article on bullying. We read it with enthusiasm. We’ve read the book Purplicious, which is mentioned in the article, but I think the moral of the story is a little lost at this age. I guess all I can do at this point, is to keep telling my daughter to stay away from the bully – do not go by her, do not try to play with her – and if she bothers her to tell the teacher immediately. And hope the bully will grow out of this stage quickly.

I can always remind myself that there are only six more weeks of school left.

Why can’t we all play nice?

OK. I heard you. You’re singing that song from Mel Brooks’ “History of the World.” ha ha ha

I knew it would happen eventually. My 3 year-old daughter has always been the curious sort. She asks questions, and is eager to learn. In the last few days, her questions have taken a new dimension. I can just see you right now. You’re shaking your head. You know where this is going.

This morning, my daughter came racing into the powder room, where I was, well, using the facilities. “Mommy!” she shouted. “I have to go potty!” Well, so did I. That’s why I was in there. I asked her if she could wait a minute, to which she replied no, because the “pee pees were going to come out!” I couldn’t make her run upstairs or downstairs to use another bathroom. So I got up to let her have her turn. Then, it came from out of nowhere: “Mommy, why do you have hair where you go pee pee?” I was so not prepared for that, though I had thought before that the question might come up at some point. “When you get older, you will get some too,” I told her. “Oh,” she said, and went about her business. Whew. I wasn’t ready to get into an in-depth discussion about hormones and puberty and all that.

The other morning, as my husband was getting out of bed, my daughter came into the room. He’d slept in his tighty-whities. Nothing gets passed this girl! The first thing out of her mouth was, “Daddy, why don’t you have any clothes on?” I quickly replied, “Because he was warm, Honey.” Apparently, my explanation wasn’t satisfactory. She followed him into the walk-in closet where he got dressed. Then she repeated the question – in a louder voice – perhaps he hadn’t heard her. “Daddy, why don’t you have any clothes on?” For some reason, since I didn’t hear him respond, I repeated my own retort, matching her volume. She didn’t acknowledge me, but asked him again. Finally, he intoned, “Because I didn’t want to wear my jammies.” Oh boy. I was waiting for her to say she didn’t want to wear her jammies, and even worse – for her to think that Mommy wasn’t telling the truth or something. So far no repercussions from that exchange. Double whew.

She’d asked us recently, “Why is Grandpa Daddy’s daddy?” and why my mother is my mother, etc., to which I replied, “Because that’s who God picked.” She seemed to like that answer. “So did God pick you to be my mommy?” she asked. I nodded. She was content.

Here’s a fun one. “Mommy, why am I married to my little sister?” I said, “Honey, she’s your sister, you can’t be married to her.” She quickly said, “But I am married to you too.” I tried to explain. “I’m not married to you, Sweetie, I’m married to Daddy. You’re my daughter.” She then asked, “I thought you loved me?” Well that one about knocked me over. “Of course I love you,” I told her. “That’s why we’re married! Because we love each other! I’m married to you and Daddy and my little sister!” she responded.  I paused for a moment. Do I try to explain this or just leave it where it is? Then I said, “I’m married to Daddy and you and your sister are our children. You can’t marry your mommy or daddy or your sister or your cousins, even though you love them.” To which she said, “OK” and moved to the next question. This is getting trickier by the question. What in the world is next?

You’ll love this one. “Mommy, was I there when you were a nifi (the Greek word for bride)?” Oh no, I thought. We aren’t getting into the birds and the bees already! So I tried to explain it this way: “No, Honey, you weren’t there.” “Why not?” she asked. “Because we didn’t make you yet!” I said. Uh-oh. Not a good answer, because that could have opened a door I didn’t want to go through. Before I could say anything else, she asked another question. “Was I in Heaven with Christouli (the Greek word for Christ)?” To which I quickly shook my head in the affirmative. I was pleased – and impressed – with her thought process. She’s developing logic. “So did I wait until He picked you to be my mommy?” Smart girl! She’s connecting the dots. It was making sense to her. Then she proceeded to ask about her little sister. “Where was Bebs (her nickname for her sister, which comes from the Greek word for baby girl, “Beba”) when I was a baby?” I explained that she wasn’t born yet. She said, “Oh, so she was waiting in Heaven with Christouli?” I told her yes. Then she went to play. Thank goodness that line of questioning was complete! At least for now.

I know this is only the beginning. Now I’m a little nervous. What question will that imaginative and inquisitive mind come up with next? Is it time to stop changing in front of her? Is it time to lock her out of the bathroom when either of us showers or goes to the toilet? Perish the thought that she may pose some awkward question to her teacher or her grandparents!

I’ve been researching here and there about how to handle these questions. I’ve asked other moms, too. They all reiterate the same advice: keep it simple. Don’t elaborate. Try to anticipate questions while you’re conversing. Try to be a step ahead. Wonderful! Another thing we have to try to be a step ahead on! Wow. This is really challenging my brain. I better learn to be really quick with my responses – and succinct. No need for long explanations. I promised myself a long time ago, that I wouldn’t lie to my kids, or put them off like my mother did. When I was 9, I asked where babies came from. My mother quickly told me to look it up in the encyclopedia. I did, and I read the words but had no idea other than technical terms. At that age, I probably would have been content with a response like, “they are gifts from God.” While I hope I don’t get that question for a long, long (long, long, did I say long?) time, I’ll try to give her an appropriate answer, one which her young mind can process. Wish me luck.

OK, ladies. You know what I’m talking about! Your brain has never been the same since getting pregnant, and it doesn’t get all that much better after giving birth! It has an actual name now, to confirm that something is really going on. It isn’t that we lost our minds (well, sort of). It’s a documented phenomenon called Momnesia. Yes, you read correctly; short for Mom – amnesia.  Some refer to it as Mommy Brain. (At least they didn’t call it Momzeimers!) Those darn pregnancy hormones feed off your brain and it’s never the same. Detail-oriented individuals start forgetting things. If we don’t keep extensive lists, we forget to do things. I once heard a new mom say she went to the Walgreens, parked the car, and she got to the door of the store before she realized she’d left her son in the car!

Thank God that hasn’t happened to me, and I’ve harmed no living things due to my Momnesia.

You should see the lists that I keep: work stuff, household reminders, family things that I must do. People laugh (no moms laugh, cause they know!), but if I didn’t do this, I’d forget to do the things. Before having kids, I was always very detailed-oriented and prided myself on my memory. This Momnesia can lead to some embarrassing moments! I was always good with names, but now I forget. I’ve forgotten to call people on their birthdays or other important days.

It started early on when I was pregnant with my now 3 year-old daughter.  I read about Momnesia, and I prayed it wouldn’t happen to me. Sure enough. After she was born, it didn’t get much better. I asked other moms, “Do you ever get it back?” The responses were a resounding “no!” One mom said it took about 10 years but she got some of her memory capacity back.

I write for a local ethnic newspaper. One of the first times I went out after the birth of my first child, was to cover an exhibit opening at a museum. There was a man there that I had written an extensive profile piece on months before. We got to talking, and he mentioned something about “going back home.” I asked, “Where are you from?” He looked at me like I was nuts. “St. Louis,” he said. “Did you forget?” I was quick with my response. “I’ve done so many articles that sometimes the details escape me. It takes a minute sometime to jog my memory.” Good response, but I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want to admit that it was a case of Momnesia.

You’re shaking your head about now, and thinking about the things that you have forgotten. Let me count the ways. Have you ever gone to the store for something specific and got other things, but not that item? Yup. Have you started to do laundry and then forgot it in the machine for a couple of days? You bet. In those early days following the birth of a child, have you forgotten when you showered last? Oh yeah. And forgotten which side you last nursed the baby on, or even when? Uh-huh. I had to keep a chart of when I nursed, how long and which side and even charted the naps, cause I couldn’t even tell you when I’d had a drink of water last. Yeah, you’re with me. You’ve been there.

My youngest is now 13 months old, and I was thinking it was getting better. I’d started writing more, began taking on some freelance work, and started to promote this blog. Yeah, get ready for this one.

Momnesia Strikes Again!

Last week I set up a fan page on Facebook to promote my blog. I set it up wrong! I set it up as a local business. It was a little vague in terms of the category selection, and I thought, well, I’d like this to be a business – someday a book, ads on the blog, maybe even merchandise! Ok, I’m dreaming a little here. But the intention is there – I want this to go somewhere. So I set it up as a “local business.” I’d reviewed other promotional pages and they said “company,” so I thought that category was the closest to that. Um, no.

After doing a little research, I found that it belongs in another category, which would allow me options on the page that I can’t do under the current category. Right now, you cannot change the page’s category. You have to delete and start again. WHAT?

As of April 8, I had 19 fans  – some I’d invited and others I had not. I did invite a lot more people.

So then the conundrum…do I tell people I screwed up or just leave it until someone at Facebook says, “Sorry lady,” and shuts the page down? Hmmm….I feel like an absolute dufus. Had it not been for Momnesia, Mommy Brain – whatever you want to call it – this wouldn’t have happened, I am sure. Did I say I felt stupid? How embarrassing!

Big sticky note taped above my desk this morning: ATTENTION – MOMNESIA IN PROGRESS: Check, check, check, check, check….50 times if you have to!

Ok, so I swallowed my pride and set up a new page over the weekend. One by one, my fans are making it over. Thanks, ladies. You’ve been there too!

I’m holding out hope that someday we’ll get our memories back. Ahhh…we knew after having kids, we’d never be the same – in more ways than one! Now to go kiss my little brain zappers. What were their names again? Just kidding! I wouldn’t trade them for my old memory back anyway.

As you’re giggling remembering that episode from the 60’s show “The Brady Bunch,” where Jan is upset at the constant reminder of her older sister’s achievements, think about your own kids. I started thinking about this the other day, in the midst of chatting with our 3 year-old and 1 year-old.

I didn’t have this problem as a child, since my older sister was very different from me, and her interests were nothing close to my own. But I began to think about it, as we try to constantly play up the 3 year-olds doings to keep her from being jealous of the 1 year-old. “Big girl did this,” and “Wow, did your big sisterteach you that?” You know what I’m talking about.  I’d heard parents do this and I wondered if they were trying to encourage the younger sibling or were just more enamored with the first.

After becoming a parent, this – along with other things – has come to me like some sort of epiphany. So then I began to wonder, what does all this do for the younger sibling’s psyche? Would she grow to resent her older sister? Would she think we loved her sister more? Gosh, how do you balance this one? I’m guessing a little humor here will go a long way. A prayer might work too. Can’t have too many of those, right?

Many of you may have experienced this phenomenon: the green-eyed monster seems to come and go at our house. I wish we could stop that revolving door. My older daughter loves her little sister and will tell you so, but there are definitely times when she wishes that little one would just go away already.

We try to involve the 3 year-old in everything involving the 1 year-old. We have her bring diapers, help with laundry, pick out clothes, you name it. I find that as long as she is actively engaged, she does pretty well. Then, that green-eyed crazy thing rears it’s ugly head, and no matter what we do, she gets a little wild and doesn’t listen. She thinks “time out” is a game, and will go put herself in time out on the stairs. Then she’ll go up and down the stairs and taunt you, so you start freaking out that she will fall. Negative attention, yes -and she doesn’t care – as long as she gets some.

Now the 1 year-old is becoming quite the charmer in her own right, and frankly, has begun to steal the show. They both have big blue eyes. The 3 year-old is very outgoing and used to command all the attention. Now she’s forced to share the spotlight. We’re starting to hear stuff like, “Isn’t the baby cute?” And then people ask if she’s walking, try to get her to talk, and then she shows off her own little tricks. Then I notice that the 3 year-old starts acting up, in effort to divert attention back to her. Does it have to be a competition? Can’t we just play nice?

The 3 year-old refuses to nap, because she thinks the little one will get to do something she doesn’t, or she might miss out on some one-on-one mommy time. Then she melts down in the late afternoon, and can’t even consider that a nap might help her feel better – and allow her to stay up a little later.

In the meantime, it would seem to be all about the 3 year-old princess. “Look at what your big sister is doing!” “Did your big sister teach you that!” “Your big sister is sooo smart!” I wonder…does this all get buried in the 1 year-old’s subconscious? How does this affect her deep down? Will she resent me somehow? You know, it always somehow seems to be the mother’s fault.

I was beginning to feel guilty that the 1 year-old isn’t reaching milestones as quickly as the 3 year-old – my time is not solely dedicated to one child anymore. I was starting to worry, but the little one is catching up quickly and is reassuring me that she is just fine. It all seems to be happening at once. It’s good, but sure stirs up the 3 year-old some.

So we continue to juggle, as all parents of multiple children do. Is everyone getting enough attention? Did I give the same amount of hugs and kisses? All we can do is do our best. If we focus on these little stats, we’ll drive ourselves crazy. I guess I just found my own solution. Just love them, keep them engaged, and try to have one-on-one time with each kid. When the green-eyed monster tries to sneak it, just slam the door on it. Just ignore them – as hard as it can be. She’s trying to get a rise out of you. Don’t let that little stinker win! Lock the door on that pesky emerald beast once and for all! Lots of love and encouragement really go a long way. Going forward, I’m going to try to praise both equally, after all, they are individuals and just as wonderful as the other. I want them to know that. I don’t want to have the “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” syndrome crush the little one’s spirit. It’s all I can do – and it’ll help me keep my sanity. Oh, and yes, some “Calgon, take me away,” time is definitely warranted! You deserve it!

Hey, where’s the instruction manual?! Wouldn’t that be great! Ha!

Well, no one said it was going to be easy. But the rewards are beyond compare. Those little “I love yous” and hugs are absolutely priceless – no matter what.

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BooBoo BeDoux

Bebs LaRoux


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