Guilt Trip: Sharing Your Love with Your Second Child
My mom always joked about the level of worry for each of her three children. She always said…
The first child swallows a quarter, you take them to the ER.
The second child swallows a quarter, you wait for them to poop it out.
The third child swallows a quarter, you expect them to make change.
Of course, that is hyperbole. What it means is you worry less and stress less with each child. I can attest to that feeling. I remember how stressed my wife and I were the first and second night when our son was born. Obviously, we haven’t hit the hardcore sleep deprived stage of parenting a newborn yet, but we feel more ready and prepared. We know enough tricks to overcome the stresses of a newborn.
Honestly though, my biggest worry was still my first child. I was confident in my wife and I’s ability to handle a newborn. However, I was worried about the emotional stress for my little dude.
For the first time in his young life, he was going to experience sharing mama and daddy’s love and affection with another person. That scared the shit out of me. The last thing I ever want him to feel is that we love another child more than we love him. Obviously, we don’t want any of our children to feel they are not worthy of our love or that we put one in higher regard than the other.
From the time we dropped him off at his grandparents before heading to the hospital to the time we finally saw him again, he was always in my mind.
We had to leave him abruptly as my wife quickly progressed in her labor so we didn’t necessarily get the proper goodbye. Immediately, I know my wife felt the blow of pain leaving our little man more so than any of those contractions. After all, we have been with him every day for the last 9 weeks due to Covid19. More so her as I have been the one to grab food or go grocery shopping. She literally hasn’t left his side.
Of course my adrenaline began pumping from the time I knew we had to go to the hospital. Protector husband/dad mode kicked in and my only mission was to get my wife to the hospital. That adrenaline never really subsided until well after our daughter was born. It all happened so fast.
The first time my emotion overcame me was when I was holding my sweet girl that night. My boy started to creep in my head because I almost felt like I was cheating on my little dude. Because he hadn’t met her yet and I wasn’t sure how he would react to having another baby in the house, it hurt a little bit. I held her knowing she was ok and I just wanted to be sure little dude was ok.
Of course, we did our part in mentally preparing him for the inevitable. I constantly talked and will continue to talk to him about always being there for his little sister and protect her. I remind him that as boys, it is our inherent responsibility to protect the girls in our lives. I always remind him that I will always have time for him and love him just as much.
Even though I beat those thoughts into my toddler’s head, I still needed to see it to know he was ok.
Because of that, I cried multiple times holding my girl.
One, I was so happy to finally get to lock eyes with that precious little beauty. Two, I wanted to know that my 2.5+ year old would be ok sharing that love and affection.
That feeling didn’t necessarily go away for the 41.5 hours it took for the two greatest gifts in my life to meet for the first time.
Little man finally got dropped off to our house. When I met he and his grandparents at the door, I asked him who was here? He excitedly said “baby (her name).” I knew this would be a fulfilling and happy moment. The second I knew that, that guilt immediately went away. My heart melted.
My wife and our daughter were sitting on the couch and I walked with him to the couch. He saw his mama holding our sweet little girl. That sweet little boy I worried so much about just smiled and walked to the other side of the couch to say hello to his mama and new sister.
He was fairly timid and not sure what to make of it, but seemed genuinely happy that his baby sister was finally home. As the day wore on, he was good as gold around her.
One of my favorite moments of the day was when it was us four. My wife was feeding our daughter. Little dude was riding his glider bike around the living room. I just asked if he wanted to watch some Mickey Mouse and sit with me. He came over to the couch, sat down and asked to watch the “rain one.” Of course, I happily put that episode on.
Side note, his little giggle is my absolute favorite when they announce Dr. Von Drakenstein.
He and I sat there watching as I had my arm around him and his head rested on my chest. I just enjoyed having my little dude back. It was my way to not just tell him that no one can ever take his place, but show him.
A little later after lunch when I put him down for a nap, I once again reminded him that his new sister was going to need our care and attention. That will never mean we love her more. I told him if he ever felt sad, that it was ok to feel sad. Just let us know and we will do our best to make that sadness go away.
As the day wore on, he repeatedly showed interest in his little sister watching us take care of her. There is definitely some curiosity and uncertainty, but most importantly love, affection and pride in being a big brother. That is amazing to see.
My heart couldn’t be more full. They’re both amazing. I am grateful to be daddy to those two wonderful little humans.