Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Other Shoe Falls

Well, I knew it would happen sooner or later. The first real meltdown over not wanting to share with Lily. And the thing Corinne didn't want to share was my attention and affection.

There were signs it was coming. Like asking me to lift her over my head like Lily, or tickle her like Lily. Also her obsessions have been getting worse; everything has to be about sea creatures, fish, and Shamu. And then there's comments such as "I don't feel like listening to Lily crying" (she got that one from me) Plus she has been having small random meltdowns all week over insignificant things, so we suspected that there was more than meets the eye going on. But she never complained or even seems to notice when I pay more attention to Lily, and I was starting to think her indifference was maybe a PDD thing.

No doubt Lily is taking up a lot of our time. It seems like all I ever say is, "in a minute Corinne, I need to feed Lily" or " soon as I get Lily to bed". Lily is 8 months old and very "typical", which has actually been a big adjustment for Pete and I. We're not use to a baby that is into everything, endlessly curious, and fearless. She just started crawling last week, and is really gaining confidence, speed, and a devilish gleam in her eye. She's already pulling up onto everything, and the only thing that stands between her and walking is balance. She's got the strength, she's got the technique, and she certainly has the desire. She is a lot of fun, but, like any baby, she is also very demanding. I've been so focused on treating her the same way we did Corinne as an infant and avoiding the "second child complacency" that I think I've been overlooking my first baby.

So I think it started because Pete had to leave this afternoon, on a Sunday, to go to New Jersey for work for a couple days. Corinne picked right upon the change in routine: "Why you have to go to work now, dadda? Will you be home for dinner? Why you have to work so much, dadda? (I swear I didn't put her up to it!) She seemed sad that he left, and then she decided she wanted to go inside (it was a beautiful day and I was trying to get some yard winterizing done, so while we were outside together, I was not giving her my undivided attention) I told her a couple times that we would go inside in a little while, but she just wouldn't let it go and then the tears came. She said she was tired, which has been her thing lately. She says she just wants to lay on the couch, which is what we did a few weeks ago when she was sick, and now I think it's her ruse to cuddle with me. I told her that maybe she should take a nap if she's so tired, but then it became all about reading a book first and we just weren't getting anywhere. Finally I sat her down and told her that I noticed she'd been getting upset a lot lately, and asked her if something was bothering her and out it came: "I want to have just Momma time with no Lily. I never get just momma and dadda time anymore. I don't really like Lily". There was something so... I don't know... big girl... mature, about her tears. She was trying to keep herself under control and failing, and when I told her that Momma and Dadda still loved her very much and how I knew it was a big change and how hard it was, she cried even harder. It broke my heart. I must admit that as a fellow first born, I distinctly remember feeling jealous and resentful of my sister. I had so been hoping to prevent this with my kids. My heart wants to be supermom, and be all things to both kids, to give both of them all the attention they want/need/ deserve. I want to do crafts with Corinne, teach her things, take her places. I want to entertain Lily, help her along with her milestones, stimulate her mind. But in reality I am so very tired. I just don't have the energy. Frankly, there are times I can't wait to put them both to bed so I can just have a couple hours to myself. There are days when I count the minutes. And there are many nights when I go to bed feeling guilty, inadequate, impatient, selfish; worrying about how my actions today will impact them down the road.

I don't mean to complain. I love my kids, I love my husband, I have a wonderful life. I just never dreamed it could be so draining, physically and emotionally. This parenthood thing got exponentially harder with the addition of a second kid. I remind myself of the most important lesson I learned with Corinne: this too shall pass. No matter how dark things seem when you're in the thick of it, when it seemed like the issue du jour would never be resolved, when you weren't sure how you'd possibly get through another day or week or even another minute of it, in reality most things were just a phase that eventually ended. A few months later looking back on it, you barely remembered how bad it was. I know Corinne will adjust to being a big sister, that eventually Lily will become fun, that we will be able to do things as a family instead of the "divide and conquer" approach we have adopted as of late. I know I'll find the groove and find a balance between the two, that we'll all become increasingly independent. As for today, we both had a good cry, skipped the nap and played a game, did a puzzle, read a book. Corinne seemed no worse for the wear and I've convinced myself that she won't become a convicted felon because I can't play sea creatures all day long with her. Now both kids are asleep in bed, I've got a glass of wine and a bunch of episodes of "ER" and "Bridezilla" on DVR. Until tomorrow morning, it's all about me. This too shall pass... this too shall pass.