Green with Jealousy-Sibling Rivalry
My Cup Runneth Over
I'd had quite a time coping with my eldest daughter's colic, but somehow we'd gotten past that difficult time, until voila, here she was, a toddler of almost 2 years old. Now I had a second daughter to deal with—a chip off the old block (colicky like her big sister)—along with the multiple demands of toddler, husband, and household. My cup runneth over—with chaos!
During the final weeks of my pregnancy and for the first few weeks postpartum, I was lucky to have my mother and sister come stay with us and help out. I was so grateful to have them cook, clean, and give extra attention to my big girl. I nursed, ate, and slept when the baby let me, and also found time to read and play with the big sister, while one relative or another held the baby. I was determined not to let my big girl feel left out.
All too soon it was time for my family to leave me to cope on my own. I took a deep breath, and tried to make a plan. I'd read to my toddler while I nursed the baby. I'd settle the baby in her bounce chair and take out a big box of Duplo for my little girl. I'd go into the kitchen and make a nice, big pot of stew and freeze half for another time.
"Will you Watch your Little Sister for me?"
Things seemed to be going well. The baby burped right as I finished the story of The Little Train that Could. I settled the baby in her chair and put my little girl not far from her with her blocks. I said, "Mommy's going to make a BIG pot of stew for you and Daddy. Will you watch your little sister for me?"
Her big trusting eyes assured me that her greatest pleasure was to watch her little sister. I set to browning onions and chunks of meat. It felt great to be back at the stove. I liked cooking. I hummed a little James Brown, "I feeeeeeeeel good."
Then, I heard a kind of whuffling sound, as if someone were bouncing VERY hard. I ran into the room and saw my toddler riding piggy-back on her 3 week old sister. I shrieked and swooped up the baby into my arms. I checked her all over and she seemed okay, but I was a wreck. I looked over at my toddler daughter and was shocked to see her gloating. Aha! I thought. She's jealous.
The books said that jealous feelings were meant to come out rather than be repressed until a much later stage. This was supposed to be healthy. I took another deep breath then picked up my (healthy) toddler, hugged her, and told her that she'd always be my first baby; that it was okay for her to feel jealous but that she mustn't ever hurt the baby.
Later that evening I took my emotional pulse. Day one of mothering two kids on my own. Not too shabby, I thought.