It’s no fun feeling like a failure.
When B was born, everyone asked “How is the boychild taking it?”
“Actually,” I replied, patting myself on the back, “Just fine. He seems really proud and excited to be a big brother.” An inner gloat spread through me, as I chalked up another parenting victory. When the boychild came to see her at the hospital, he excitedly proclaimed “Welcome to the world!” and when friends of his came to visit, he’d announce, “I have a baby sister!”
Did I need that copy of “Siblings without Rivalry” I’d bought just before B was born? Certainly not! We, as parents, were triumphant and in no need of extra help.
Now it’s 3 months later, and you guessed it. Times have changed. Boychild relates to B like a psycopath in training, jaws clamped as he puts his face right up against hers and faux squeezes her. It’s so ridiculous it’s almost comic. Knowing that these are classic symptoms of a jealous sibling (I should know, I was jealous and resentful of my younger sister until about last year when she faced enormous challenges within her own family and I finally realized that she wasn’t out to trump me at every turn) makes it no easier.
I know it can’t be easy for the boychild to witness his mother’s burgeoning love affair with his main rival. I try to help him articulate his feelings, to muted response. And the strength of my feelings for B surprised even me. To be honest, I was ambivalent about having a second child. Were we crazy to disrupt our cozy little threesome? How would it affect my relationship with Finn? Would he feel rejected? Would I have any time left for myself? How would we afford it? And how would my relationship with this little girl turn out, when my own relationship with my own mother had been so fraught and filled with agida?
But babies have a special charm, and my little darling 4-year-old devil is out for blood. I know I need to breathe and be zen and try to be rasta mamma, but deep down I’m seething that he just won’t comply with my requests. Why does he have to push me at every turn? And what am I doing wrong? I miss the merger with him that I used to have, and that I have with B ––and yet I know it’s not healthy or realistic to experience this constantly with him. Today, I came upstairs to find him playing with B’s monitor. He’d broken the plug. The instincts of a future engineer? Or an aggressive act in response to the fact that we were reading stories together, only to be interrupted by her cries?
Oh the guilt. THE GUILT. That I am failing because there aren’t two of me. That I’ve shaken his world irrevocably by bringing B into the universe. I hate having to ignore him to tend to her needs. But worse, I hate that I prefer her to him right now. There. I said it. She’s easier, adores me, smiles whenever I’m around and I actually feel like I’m doing her some good as she suckles at my boob. Oy.
What I’m trying to remember is that we’re still all in transition. Our lives have all changed. We all need to reconfigure our relationships to each other, and try not to blame each other/dissolve in puddles of guilt for our own shortcomings and disappointments.