Parenting · Personal · Pregnancy

Living Up to an Awesome Sibling

Chalk-and-CheeseSince becoming pregnant, I’ve noticed that I’m already guilty of drawing comparisons between now and when I was carrying Sausage, given that the two pregnancies are so different so far. Then, yesterday, Husband and I were talking about the fact that we never really ‘baby-proofed’ when Sausage was tiny, we were just vigilant and taught her what not to do and Husband said “But what if we were just lucky with Sausage and the new baby turns out to be into everything?!”. It got me thinking – we really were lucky with Sausage, in so many ways…what if the new baby just doesn’t live up to the very high precedent that its big sister has set?

I really dislike it when people use the phrase ‘good baby’, as in “little Hermione sleeps through, she’s such a good baby” because it’s a completely unfair standard to set for a newborn; if they want to scream the house down then there must bloody well be a reason for it, in my opinion, and it certainly doesn’t make them a bad baby. However, in the grand scheme of things, Sausage was definitely what most people would call a ‘good baby’. She fed well, napped well, people would constantly comment on how content and happy she seemed because she rarely ever cried. As she got into the toddler stage, she never once had a tantrum in the supermarket (and probably only 2 or 3 at home; her ‘Terrible Twos’ seemed to last about three weeks!), I never had to worry about taking her anywhere because her behaviour was immaculate.

Even now, as a 5 year old, sure she has to be pushed to do things outside of her comfort zone but her current class teacher described her as having “impeccable behaviour and manners” – what more can you ask of a 5 year old, huh? I realise I probably sound like one of those nauseating parents who think their kid is perfect, but it really is true, Husband and I often take a moment to appreciate the fact that she really is a good girl and that we’re hugely blessed.

So, how on earth is a new child ever going to live up to this?! Husband have been well and truly spoilt by our firstborn, but what if this new child is the polar opposite – demanding, ill-tempered, prone to screaming matches in public?!

I have siblings, but there’s almost 9 years between my sister and I, and I was almost 16 when my little brother was born, so there’s not really any element of competitiveness with them as we’re of different generations. My sister and I are literally chalk and cheese, we could be more different and at times we rub each other up the wrong way, but I’m still fiercely protective of her and proud of how kind she can be. My little bro and I are probably more similar in a lot of ways, but I’m more or less old enough to be his Mum and we didn’t grow up together, so it’s not like a normal little brother/big sister relationship and my heart swells with pride when I think about how awesome he’s grown up to be.

I’ve no doubt that I’ll love this child every bit as much as I love Sausage and that will be unconditional, in the same way that my love for its big sister is. But Sausage really is a hard act to follow and I’ve got a feeling in the pit of my stomach which is a combination of worry at how different this child might be, especially if the differences are seemingly negative, and fear that I’ll spend all of my time drawing comparisons between my two children, putting Sausage on a pedestal. More importantly, I worry that other people will draw comparisons between my two children and it could affect their sibling relationship.

Do you have two or more kids? Do you do the comparing thing? How do you deal with other people making comparisons? Am I normal to be worried about this?! HELP!

24 thoughts on “Living Up to an Awesome Sibling

  1. I worried about this when I was pregnant with my second and I have to say that now the littlest one is 2 years old, there is no way I could compare my two girls.
    I love them both fiercely but they are totally different characters.
    I am a different mom to the second one as she is so different in every way to my eldest daughter. All children are different but different is good. A mothers love for her children is always the same though, regardless of how many times it needs to be shared xx

    1. “A mothers love for her children is always the same though, regardless of how many times it needs to be shared” – that is so beautiful, thank you so much for sharing that with me xxx

  2. My kids are wildly different one is always in trouble at school fighting etx and the other is never EVER in trouble. I really emphasise the postive sin both but it is obvious to both kids the HUGE difference in behaviour/consequences just from their reality. Tricky.

    P.s when you have 2 Love doesnt get shared it just widens its net.

    1. I can imagine that must be really tricky to deal with at times, but it’s good to know that love isn’t halved but doubled. Thanks so much for commenting.

  3. Well this is going to make me sound big headed, but I was that perfect child and my little sister was a… well let’s just say repeatedly my parents have joked that if my sister had been the first she would have been the last!
    However my mum always said she wanted two children as different as chalk and cheese, and that is exactly what she got. Not only do we look different, but our personalities, what we look for from a job, a relationship are completely different. However, I would think there would be more comparisons, and probably more competitiveness if we were both interested and after the exact same things in life.

  4. We have EXACTLY this predicament right now. My oldest son is an absolute genius and just achieved fantastic GCSE results without any effort. Now my next son down is waiting for his 11+ results (tomorrow) and worrying he wont have made the grade, but desperate to follow in his brother’s footsteps. Guess this just all reminded me about how we are all good at different things and will just have to remind him of that – just hard when his brother is good at pretty much everything he does.

  5. I have four kids, two who are parents themselves now and the 5 year old twins. All of my kids were ‘good babies’ in as much as they ate and slept and were ‘good’, a pleasure to bring up. But they all have their differences – even the twins and I make the mistake of referring to them as ‘one’ far too often because they are unique.
    I think you’ll find you will compare certain parts of parenting; she liked a bath – she/he hates it, it’s inevitable as you draw on your experience to parent once again but you will soon see differences appear and learn to love each child for their own qualities.
    Another fun ride awaits you, enjoy every moment x

  6. I think everyone compares every now and then. I know I am guilty of it. I have 4 aged 8 to 1yr and they are all so very different it many ways.

    I’m sure that everything will be fine and your worries will disappear as soon as the new baby arrives.

  7. I find myself in the same position, I have been very spoilt by my son and now I’m nervous about how I’ll manage if the next one is more of a challenge. Like you I don’t like to think of babies as good or bad, but Nathan was definitely easier than most and even as a two-year-old we just haven’t had anything close to the level of drama I’ve heard so many other parents talk about. This age has actually been the best yet as he’s so easy to communicate with that a lot of our stresses have been avoided by just talking them through. But I’m aware that we’ve been incredibly lucky and I wonder how I’ll handle a toddler who doesn’t respond to reasoning or an infant that doesn’t learn when you try to teach them about danger (we didn’t baby-proof either). I’d hate to be the parent who says things like ‘look at your brother, he’s being a good boy’ and unintentionally causing friction and competition between them.

    My sister and I are also regularly referred to as chalk and cheese, and whilst we usually manage to work around our differences as adults we did not get along at all growing up. I guess all you can do is approach each child as the individuals that they are and be prepared to make adjustments to your parenting to fit around each of them. Keep reminding yourself that a baby who cries is not a bad baby, they are just a baby with a different need and you have to figure how to meet that need. A toddler who doesn’t respond to reasoning is not a bad toddler, they just haven’t reached that level yet and we might need to find different ways to help them manage their emotions. A child who doesn’t do as well in school is not a bad child, they might have additional needs or might simply be more suited to physical or creative learning techniques. It’s up to us to adjust to them and appreciate everything that they are rather than dwell on the things that they might not be so great at.

    At least that’s what I keep telling myself 🙂 I think I worry more about me forgetting all this and letting them down than the actual differences between them.

    1. I’m hoping that once this child comes along, all of the difference in the pregnancy, birth and ultimately the new baby, I’ll realise that they’re two different people and the comparisons will melt away.

      That’t what I’m hoping, anyway…;-)

  8. It’s good to think about these things now. I have three girls – all born within 2 and 1/2 years! – and it is an issue. Wish I had some answers.

    1. I never fail to be bowled over when I remember how close in age your girls are, but I think you’re right, it’s good to be aware of things before they even arise.

  9. I agree with Mary, your daughter is the way she is because of your hard work and commitment as parents. I hope that your daughter will enjoy being a big sister, whatever the new baby’s personality.
    My two siblings and I have very different personalities, my sister and I are especially different but that also makes our relationship interesting 🙂

    1. Thanks Catherine, that’s kind of you. I think I need to remind myself that differences and comparisons can be positive as well as negative and just embrace the good parts.

  10. I have to admit, all three of mine have been brilliant sleepers and mostly quite well behaved. We get more comparisons now, but they tend to be in a good way. Ooooh, Z is so clever, but isn’t S wonderfully creative.

    I agree with Sonya too that the relationships and even expectations are different with each child, and I am constantly surprised!

    I think everyone’s behaviour adapts as a new little person enters the house, but in a good way.

    1. That’s very reassuring, thank you. I think I’m assuming that this child will be different to Sausage in every way because the pregnancy has been so different, but there will probably be as many similarities as there are difference. Thanks so much for your comment.

  11. I will reassure you with this- Max, my middle one, was a brilliant sleeper, and Syd is a terrible one- I have never once thought negatively of Syd for this- he is just different. I love my children equally, but differently. I have a great relationship with all three, but the relationships are different with each child, and of course those relationships constantly change as they grow too.
    I remember worrying when I was pregnant with my second that I wouldn’t love them as much as my first- only because I couldn’t imagine loving anyone as much as I loved her, but of course I did!

    1. That’s another one of my fears; it’s hard to contemplate being able to love another baby with the ferocity that I love Sausage, but it’s really reassuring to know that I’ll be able to feel that for both of them. Thanks for commenting xx

  12. I don’t find myself comparing Kit and Ozzy though I did feel how you do now before Ozzy was born. A month before I fell pregnant with Kitty I had a reversal of a sterlisation and our chances of me falling pregnant were 60-70% which seems a lot now but at the time really worried me. Kitty was so very wanted and it took months of planning and saving up to be able to afford to have the operation. For someone whos always fallen pregnant straight away before hand the struggle and wait somehow seemed to form an extra bond with Kitty. So I worried about when Ozzy was born too.
    The worries melted away when he came along and all is dandy now. I have a husband who’s parents have always openly compared children and I’ve seen a really harsh side to it which I make me never want to compare them – saying that I do think things like’hmmm Kitty was potty training by this age’, but never out loud!

    1. Do you know what? I think you’ve hit on a good point – I’ve had various gynae issues and was always told it would be tricky to conceive. It took us over a year to have Sausage and then, of course, she was so ill after being born that she seemed like a double blessing and the three of us are so close. It’s really reassuring to know that I’m not a terrible woman for having these thoughts and that other people have them too. Thanks so much for sharing that with me.

  13. Comparison is a natural thing, I compare my two a lot – not in a bad way or to create competition between them. I can see the strengths and weakness in them both and enjoy that they are very different people with very different personalities.
    You’re not blessed with good behaviour or a kind and polite child – you worked hard as parents to create one – and so why would this one be any different? You’ll work just as hard to teach them the skills they need to be a decent person – like a bank – you only get out what you but in!

    1. Thank you Mary, that’s a lovely thing to say. I try not to take credit for Sausage as parenting her has been so easy that I feel she deserves all the credit for herself! I guess comparison doesn’t always have to be negative and I’ll definitely bear that in mind.

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