Attempting the Impossible

It’s really frustrating, to recognize that I’m trying to do something I just can’t do, and yet not knowing how to stop doing it.

The thing I’m trying to do is give my children the same. Actually, I’m trying to give my son all that I gave my daughter.

Of course I know this is impossible. I can’t give him what I gave her because she was an only child and he is a second child. When Osita was three months old I had nothing else to do but take care of her. I spent days and days trying to help her nap, tied to the house so she could be in her crib. Today poor Monito didn’t get one nap in his crib. Every time it was time to sleep I had to load him into his car seat and take him out into the world. He spent his first nap driving Osita to school. He took his second nap driving our cat to the vet. He took his third nap picking up Osita from school (and getting In-n-Out). Poor thing never got to sleep for longer than thirty minutes at a time. By the end of the day he was an over-tired mess.

Monito spends WAY more time in bouncy chairs and on his play mat than Osita ever did. He gets way less time in my arms, or looking at my face. He gets my undivided attention to a much lesser degree than his sister did at this age. That will most certainly always be the case.

And it makes me sad. Really sad.

This week Monito turned three months old. Three months was my one breastfeeding goal, a goal I had in mind before my son was even born, before our breastfeeding experience went all to shit. I really, REALLY wanted to make it to three months. And I did. I’m proud of making it this far. It was hard work, but I did it.

I go back to work in a week. I actually think it will be easier to exclusively pump than it would have been to nurse. With pumping there are less moving parts. I don’t have to predict when Monito will be hungry. I don’t have to carefully choreograph having enough milk for Monito while also emptying my breasts after seven hours of work to ensure my supply doesn’t plummet. All I have to do is pump before I leave for work and then pump on my way home. I’m sure I’ll be uncomfortable after that many hours without pumping, but it won’t be so bad. I can do it.

The thing is, I’m not sure I want to. The mornings are going to be crazy; finding time to pump will be almost impossible. I’m going to have to pump on my drive home from work, which requires having all my parts packed every morning, and then remembering to actually put my pump in the car before I leave. I worry that the extra stress of pumping will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I just don’t know if I have the bandwidth for it.

I exclusively nursed my daughter until she was six months old, and I assumed I’d do the same with my son. I want to give him what I was able to give her. The idea that I might not be able to provide him with what his sister was given makes me feel like a failure.

My rational brain knows I can’t possibly give my son everything I gave my daughter. I can’t even love them in the same ways. They are different people and I will treat them accordingly. I want to say I will love them equally but it’s more complicated than that. I won’t love them the same, but neither will be loved more. And I suppose I want that to show in what they are given. I worry that because Monito will mostly get hand-me-downs, that because he will get less from me–less attention, less effort, less stuff–it will seem like I love him less.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense. I’m just trying to figure out how I can balance this deep desire to give him what I gave her, at least when it comes to the important stuff, with the reality of what I can manage now that I have two kids.

I’m just not quite sure yet how to do that.

7 responses

  1. Very well written and while reading this, I was shaking my head and thinking, you get it. I feel the same. With Vivian, I was a new Mom, totally focused being attentive to her every need and want.

    Then Evelyn was born and well, everything needed to be shared. Clothes, Food, Time, my sanity, patience…

    So, E won’t feel shafted, so to speak, and wind up in therapy…I put the extra effort into being there for her. What she likes, what she wants…and seriously try not to always side with Big Sister. Poor E really doesn’t get to have her own items…so I’m trying to make things, well special for her.. And I’m hoping she feels loved. I know she is loved a whole lot.

    You’re doing great, Mom. You BF him when you had Thrush! Could/Would I have given up. Yes. In my book, you’re doing amazing,

  2. This sounds so much like my experience with two kids also… there are compensations, though. Oz gets “babied” in some ways that his older sister had to grow out of much more quickly. And I think that this current present moment is just that – a moment. It is an important one, of course, but there will be many more chapters in this book and things will constantly shift. I think it counts for a lot that you are mindful of the balance you want to achieve.

  3. I have had the same experience with my two as well. Now I’ve just decided that my first got the benefit of my attention and my second is getting the benefit of my experience. I didn’t have hours of time to spend focusing on her, but I knew exactly how to do the Happiest Baby on the Block stuff to calm her down right away instead of not even knowing what that was until she was seven weeks old. I believe it all balances out. Plus, all we can do is our best. 🙂

    Re: the pumping. Three months is awesome! I totally understand not wanting to continue, and think whatever decision you make is the right one for both you and Monito. If you did want to continue, is there any way that you could pump on that way to work too, so you wouldn’t have to find time to do it in the morning before you leave? And if you buy an extra set of pump parts that might help with that part. BUT – if it’s too much, then I vote for weaning and moving on. Good luck!

  4. I agree with Elizabeth – there are compensations to being a second child, too. Most of all, having a big sibling to spend time with. And also, the second child never has to go through the trauma of suddenly having to share parents, since it’s always been that way. I like to think that although C doesn’t get the 1-on-1 attention J got, it’s made up for by the fact that I actually know what I’m doing this time.

  5. I feel the same way right now. I can’t give Piglet as much attention as he’s used to, and then I have the added stress of trying to give both L and K equal attention. I constantly feel like I’m failing all three of them. My husband’s aunt gave me a quote on my Facebook status when I shared that I felt like I was constantly failing. Maybe it will help you too. “Behind every great kid are parents who think they are failing miserably.” Hang in there!

  6. Yep. Charlotte takes her morning nap every single day in the car taking Grayson to school and more often than not, I have to wake her up from a deep sleep in her afternoon nap to put her in the car to go get him. I cringe just thinking about it. But then on the flip side, there are many, many times I feel like I am failing Grayson because I spend SO much less time with him now that he has a sister. Sigh. It’s not easy, but I have to believe that both my kids know and feel they are loved completely, despite sacrifices they have to make because of their siblings. And I know your kids know they are loved too- you are doing a great job.

  7. It is the same for us. I’ve come to terms with it as I’ve been told that my special needs child will always get more attention. To make up for it, I’m trying to do things with just him. I’m taking him to a mommy and me preschool and to the park by himself. My mom takes B for a day so we get the boy to ourselves for the day and we just love that. He doesn’t have his name on the wall like she does in their room and he won’t have the amount of pictures that she has of her infancy, but I tell myself that he’s a boy, and hopefully won’t give a shit about that (like my husband 🙂

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