Wednesday, January 15, 2014

On Practicing Patience

Since having Aden, one of the most common questions people ask me is "how is life with two?" I've said it before and I'll stick by my statement that for me, having two kids isn't as hard as I expected it to be. Part of it's because I'm more experienced as a mom the second time around and I'm sure part of it is due to Aden's mild nature. If I had another high maintenance baby on my hands, I'm sure I'd be singing a different tune. I planned well before Aden's birth and Andi's been a good parenting partner helping on nights and weekends when he's home and yada, yada, yada ... the list goes on.

One thing I wasn't fully prepared for is the amount of patience I'd need with Tory, in specific regard to Aden. I knew I'd have to find things for her to do while I was nursing and I'd have to carve out ways to spend quality time with both of them. I mentally prepared for those parts of parenting two kids, and I think I'm doing a fairly decent job at managing those aspects. I'm talking more about the constant harping on Tory about poking Aden, messing with him while he sleeps, squeezing him, laying on his swing and the constant whining while I'm giving Aden any attention at all. All day long this takes place -- from 5:30am in the morning to 6:30pm in the evenings -- and by the time Andi comes home from work, my patience is zapped. Thank God for wine.

Does this get better? Everyone says it will. Give it time! She'll loose interest in him! Really? Because it's been eight weeks and she's still going strong bullying him all the freaking time. Aside from the physical harm to Aden (which, really, there hasn't been much since I usually intercept her), I mostly feel guilty for yelling at her all the dang time. She's starting to pick up on phrases I say to her and spouts "Tory won't hurt you!" as she's gritting her teeth and squeezing the be-jesus out of Aden's hands. The other day, Tory walked up to the rocking chair as I was nursing Aden and said with puppy-dog eyes, "Is there room for me?" Man, it just rocked me to my core. I felt so sorry I couldn't hold them both in that moment, but there's only so much of me to go around.

Our pediatrician says not to make a big deal about it to Tory whenever she's messing with Aden; to physically remove the baby from the situation and not draw any attention -- good or bad. I try to do that, but I can't always remove Aden from Tory when I'm doing something like nursing him, for example. What am I suppose to do, sit on the counter tops to feed him?! She'd grab a chair and climb right up to join us. The Parent Educator at Tory's preschool suggested I set Aden down when Tory needs me so she knows she's got my attention when it's important. I definitely do this when necessary. There's been plenty of times Aden's feeding schedule has been pushed back or he's had to chill in the bouncy seat while I make Tory lunch, get her dressed or take her to the bathroom. The educator also suggested I say things like "hold on, Aden, Mommy's got to help Tory right now!" so Tory understands I'm devoting time to her as well as the baby. I make a point to do this, too, so I'm not sure what else I can do to stave off jealousy.

The Mommy Guilt is eating at me big-time. I know I need to let it go, but I'm honestly doing the best I can to love and care for them both. I feel like I spend a good chunk of quality time with Tory during the day. We color, paint, do art projects, bake, play babies and kitchen and doll house together, while Aden's napping. It's Aden I feel most guilty for not spending quality one-on-one time. The poor guy is so easy-going, I often plop him in the swing or the Baby Bjorn while I'm making lunch or doing laundry. A friend of mine calls it the Second Baby Syndrome because second-borns are often left behind. Rarely, do I have time during the day to sit and hold him and I worry I'm missing out on his babyhood by being so busy with Tory or the house stuff. It's like the squeaky wheel gets the most attention, and Tory's the one who cries out the loudest. I really do give her a good chunk of my attention during the day, so I'm surprised she acts out so physically toward Aden the way she does. Maybe it's just her age and she hasn't quite learned how to "be gentle" with little ones like her brother. It's to the point where I can't leave her in a room with him unsupervised and even when I'm there, I have to pay close attention to where she is in relation to him at all times.

I have a friend who told me the other day she's doing a thing for her Bible Study group -- to pray for 5 people for 5 weeks -- and she asked if there was anything she could pray about for me. I asked for patience because it's a big stumbling block in my life right now.

God grant me patience to be the best mom I can be to my two little blessings.


  1. Spencer wasn't hard on Henry when he came around (hurting/bullying-wise), but it definitely took a good 6 months for him to be comfortable with there being another child in the house. Happily now, he is pretty easy going with the attention because his younger brother has hit the point where he demands all the attention.

  2. Sounds like our house--ha! My kids are 23 months apart, now 2.5 years and 9 months old. It goes in waves, often daily, of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the older one. I felt exactly the same about the second baby getting less attention while also feeling like I was not doing enough for the first. She was like a sieve I could never fill fast enough with attention. Here's what I did/do when the going is rough:
    1.) Nurse standing up. It sucks, but I wasn't climbed on and it was no longer a special cuddle time to be jealous of, but more of a wandering the house as she played time.
    2.) Keep a safe baby spot in every room. I have made some impressive barricades! We had two borrowed pack and plays and they were a life-saver. Or I would wear the baby when making dinner, etc. if safety between children was an issue.
    3.) Let the older one pretend to be the baby. Caution: can get annoying.
    4.) Second child time will happen. Around 5 months, my baby would be awake part of the time her older sibling was sleeping. We had so much fun playing together and I started to feel more balanced with one on one time.

    I'm still in the thick of this, clearly, but those are the first things I could think of from one referee mom (whose husband also is gone a ton) to another!!!

  3. Anna and Ethan are further apart in age so my challenges are different but yes, patience is the thing! It is easier now that Ethan is 5 months so hang in there.

  4. The juggling act is hard for me, how do I provide both with enough attention, but I figure I am nursing for more than 3 HOURS a day that is a LOT of one on one attention right there! I do make it an effort to make sure I do mommy dates with Lauren once a week. We get out of the house the two of us - we get a haircut or just go to the grocery store or park. I feel bad I don't take dates with Reese yet but her time will come!

    Lauren has just noticed that she has a sister (only took her 6 months!) and wants to carry her places or have her be her horsey. Reese doesn't appreciate the new attention. Ha. So I am on the other side of things, people would always ask Lauren about the baby and she could care less. It made me feel a bit sad but it made it easier I guess.

  5. Heather I could have written this exact post. I've been going through it for almost 2 years...gah! It's a bit different these days, but these boys sure do test my patience (we do a lot of deep breathing!). Now with Anna in the mix, Henry is super gentle with her and Thomas...well not so much. It's a work in progress.
    I too do one on one dates with the boys, and they (and I) cherish them.
    Good luck, it does get easier :)