4 articles Tag siblings

Age Gap Kids at Christmas

Age Gap Kids At ChristmasIt’s been a pretty eventful week for us, here in the Mum’s the Word house…I’m sad to say that this is the week that Sausage has become an un-believer. Sadly, a child who used to be in her class but has now moved up a year decided to spoil the magic for almost the whole class and tell them that Father Christmas wasn’t real and on Monday afternoon Husband and I had to deal with a very confused and upset Sausage who wanted to know the truth from us but was too scared to ask.

Husband, in his inimitable style, managed to explain it to her in a way that made her feel happy again, using a combination of history and humanism; the broad strokes that Saint Nicholas was a real man and the origins of that story, and that although there’s no “man in a red suit with a big beard” popping into our lounge each year, Father Christmas lives in all of us who want to buy presents and make our loved ones happy. I was actually quite impressed with how he managed to turn it around and make her feel happy, but I’m also gutted that it’s another stage we’ve waved goodbye to. She seems more grown up, somehow and I won’t deny that I shed a little tear.

I had a message from one of my oldest friends, Sarah, which actually made me feel a lot better. She has two much older brothers and said “If it’s any consolation, I don’t think I believed in Father Christmas post about 6 or 7 – (having brothers who are a generation above you makes it tricky!) BUT Christmas is still my favourite time of year I still think it’s magic and listen to Christmas music way before it’s acceptable. I know Sausage will still have lots of magical Christmas – just a little different. Proper gutting I know but lots of scope to create weird and wonderful new elements hopefully!”

Having one kid who’s well and truly ‘through the looking glass’ is all well and good, but we’re all still intent on keeping the magic alive for Burrito Baby, who isn’t even three yet, and is excited about Christmas like never before! Her first Christmas was a total washout – she was 10 months old and we were both horribly ill, spending most of the day asleep. Last year, she was coming up to her second birthday and still a little too young to properly “get” the whole idea of it. This year it’s totally different – she’s talking at length about Father Christmas and going to Nanny’s for dinner. She’s totally in love with the lights that we see on people’s houses and she’s enjoying grooving along with Sausage and I during our Christmas-themed car discos each morning. The Christmas bug has well and truly bitten our BB!

We’re lucky in the respect that Sausage is a really good girl and has absolutely no intention of ruining it for her baby sister, nor her friends who still believe, and she actually seems to enjoy being part of the “backstage” element of Christmas, where she’s being allowed to see gift we’ve bought for other people and keeping conspiratorial secrets with Husband and I. I think Sarah was right – it’s still possible to make the whole thing magical, even if Santa is suddenly fictional and I’m really looking forward to having our best Christmas ever.

In case I don’t get a chance to say it to you all in the next ten days, I’d like to wish all of Mum’s the Word’s readers a really Merry Christmas…even if you’re an unbeliever! 😉

Six Things They Don’t Tell You Before You Have Your Second Baby…

1. Having One Child Doesn’t Prepare You For Your Second.

In terms of the practical stuff, i.e. bum changes, making bottles, bathing what equates to a greased-up eel with no neck control, if you’ve done it for one kid, you’ve probably got it dialled in by the time number 2 comes along. In terms of every single other aspect of parenting? Good luck, because more often than not, it’s back to the drawing board. Sausage and Burrito Baby may look alike, and share certain traits such as their kindness and ability to share, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. Sausage was one of those babies who was so easy going, she almost parented herself. Burrito Baby has needed every second of my attention since 11am on 17th February 2014. She is just about as high maintenance as high maintenance gets and her temper is genuinely scary at times. I’m not saying I’d change her in any way, but I literally learned nothing about caring for a kid like her from her elder sister.

2. You Will, Very Occasionally, Favour One Over The Other

Listen, having favourites is one of those big no-nos about having multiple kids, and I’m not saying that you’d ever genuinely choose one child over the other, but sometimes you do think “God, I wish you were more like your sister/brother”. Every kid has desirable and undesirable traits and seeing the bad parts doesn’t make you a bad parent, it makes you human. In fact, sometimes seeing fault in your children can actually make you a better parent as it allows you to approach parenting from a more objective point of view.

3. Sometimes Your Heart Wins Over Your Practical Side

It’s really easy to be pragmatic and practical about certain decisions, but there are times when your heart takes over and changes the way you see things. For instance, Husband and I have kept almost every scrap of Sausage’s clothing in case we needed them for a second child, to save money and because baby clohes are often barely used by the time they’re grown out of. However, when BB came along, there were certain things that I just couldn’t put her in because they were JUST. TOO. SAUSAGE. Seeing her in certain babygros seemed all wrong and even though I thought we’d barely need to buy anything new, we bought a bunch just to make it fair.

4. Parenting Them Equally Can Be Almost Impossible At Times

Husband and I said right from the get-go that if we ever had a second baby that we would parent them in exactly the same way as we did with Sausage, making all of the same decisions as we did before. In reality though, this hasn’t worked, simply because our lives are completely different now. Sausage didn’t leave the house until she was 6 weeks old. BB came with me on the school run at just 6 days old. Sausage ate only organic fruit and veg pouches when she was first weaned. BB has food intolerances which meant her diet was different and difficult to manage at times. Sausage was spoon fed with almost every bite of food until she was 3. BB is never happier than when she’s gnawing on a corn on the cob by herself. It’s never going to be possible to do everything  the same because they, and we, are different people.

5. You Will Never Stop Feeling Guilty

I hate to tell you this, but having two children makes your guilt function increase, not just two-fold, but exponentially. As well as all of the normal feelings of guilt that us parents get, you’ve now got the added guilt of spending too much time/attention on one child, not enough on the other, not doing things the same for them both, telling one off when the other never really needed telling off, dragging one out on cold mornings for the school run, spending all day with one while the other is at school, taking one to soft play while the other is grafting over SATS…the list is absolutely endless and it never gets better.

6. There Is No Such Thing As A Perfect Age Gap

There’s five and a half years between Sausage and BB, almost to the day, and at times, the age gap can be great. I get to spend time with Sausage while her sister naps, and she’s old enough to have been really switched on and pragmatic when it comes to helping me with things or understanding that sometimes, her sister needs me (although, refer back to point 5 in regards to that…). However, there are also things which aren’t so great. I think Sausage assumed that BB would be an automatic playmate when she came along but it’s only now that they’re 15 months and almost 7 that they’re even beginning to play together. Having said all of this, I know loads of people who had their kids closer together who’ve said that they fight like cat and dog and largely cannot stand the sight of each other, so I don’t think it’s possible to ever get it ‘just right’.

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!

Scared.

Last time I was pregnant, I had a sense of foreboding in me, something that told me that it wasn’t going to end well. As I went under the general anaesthetic for my emergency c-section, the last thing I remember was feeling an overwhelming sadness, convinced that I’d never wake up again and never get to meet the baby that I’d grown and felt kicking inside me. As it stands, I did wake up, but the feeling of foreboding had turned into one of extreme worry about my baby, who was unable to regulate her own breathing and she’d had the suck reflex traumatised right out of her.

It took 5 years to come to terms with those feelings and contemplate the thought of having another child, and ultimately, the want to add to our little family and give Sausage a sibling was stronger than my fears about ‘The Worst’ happening all over again. Of course, with new pregnancy comes new anxieties – will I make it to that ‘safe’ 12 week point? Will the scans be normal? Will I develop any pregnancy related illnesses along the way?

All in all, I’ve managed to get through the last 17 weeks without allowing too many of these fears to creep in. I’m acutely aware of how damaging stress can be, and despite bereavement, drama and everyday worries, I’ve done my best to maintain an aura of calm, a shell around the baby to protect it from stress at all cost.

But, as I sit here with the rest of the household fast asleep, I must admit, I’m scared.

I’m scared of what might go wrong over the next 20 weeks, I’m scared that the dynamic of our family life will change, that Sausage might feel left out and that it might damage our relationship. I’m scared that I’ll have forgotten how to do all of the practical things, or that at almost 30 I won’t have nearly the stamina for nighttime feeds and sleepless nights that I did at 24. I’m scared that I’ll have to start injecting insulin every day if my diabetes gets out of control, I’m scared of having a spinal to numb me for my elective c-section and I’m equally scared of being put under by general anaesthetic, having that same feeling that I might never wake up again.

And, do you know what? This is just the tiny tip of a very big iceberg.

But then, I think about how amazing Sausage is, and what an awesome person she’s grown up to be. I think about what an excellent big sister she’s going to be and how she’s already started putting toys and books aside that she wants her little brother or sister to have. I think about the nighttime feeds and not about how tiring they are, but how nice those times are, having sleepy snuggles whilst watching rubbish late night TV. I think about what a good Dad Husband is to Sausage and how great it is that another child will benefit from having him as a father. Most of all, I think about how happy Sausage has made, and continues to make, us and I realise that is this next child is even a fraction as wonderful as its big sister, I don’t have anything to be scared of.