From the Mommy Files…

“Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” Uh-Oh. I Can See It Coming…

Posted on: April 6, 2010

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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1 Response to "“Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” Uh-Oh. I Can See It Coming…"

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