Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The fate of the second child

Oh, child number two (or in this case, grandchild numero dos) - yours is the fate of being dragged around by your big brother, the subject of blurry photos and recipient of hand me down clothes.  The wonder, the magic, the mystery of that first baby is done, not to be repeated and regardless of how incredible you will be, you will never be first.

I realize that this time round, with my darling daughter experiencing a very different pregnancy from the beginning - more nausea, deep in the bone tiredness and battling more than one nasty infection and exhaustion - the romance of being a mom-in-waiting has lost a little of its appeal.  While we were all eagerly anticipating the arrival of baby number one with her, marveling over each little change in her and the growing belly, just getting the house clean and the mountain of laundry folded with an active 3 1/2 year old around is daunting.

And I have had my niggling doubts about how to be a Grammy times two. Having a second child didn't seem so tough (darling daughter being that baby) and I don't recall ever wondering how I would have enough love to go around, but this time, after falling so hard for my wondrous grandson, I do consider what it will be like for him to share me and how I could ever love a little person as much as I adore him.  Now, I am sure that I will step into that role too; I did have fears about how to be a Grammy 4 years ago, but I do have a great deal of compassion for the second child.

Again, I have the blessing of distance and can see how the dynamics change with two kids.  I came from a family of two children, where the arrival of my little brother was not a grand event for me.  I was quite nicely ensconced as the Princess and I did not appreciate his intrusion into my life.  My brother and I have struggled with our relationship all of our lives and easily fall into the tug-of-war of sibling power unless we are being conscious and aware.

I made enormous efforts with my two so they did not experience their childhood as a battleground of who has the upper hand and attention of the parents. From what they share with me, I was successful - they are close and love and support each other.  Still there are echoes of "but you loved him best" in my daughter's conversation and she looks for evidence that we always held her brother as the favoured one.  

Number One Grandson has been the apple of my eye, the entire focus of attention when I am with him and I have carefully cultivated a space where he knows he is special and very much loved.  Last summer, when talk of having another became serious, I actually wasn't sure that I was ready to share my time with another wee one.  Fortunately, both Grandson and I have grown up a little.  He is more independent and I am more ready to let go (a little) of our time together.  We will work our way through it.  

Timeless as Cain and Abel, siblings need to learn how to be with each other or risk dire consequences.  Nowhere is it more evident that we are each individuals and despite being raised by the same parents, in the same house, we turn out very differently.  I will need to be conscious and mindful of how I be Grammy for two.  This will cause me to grow my heart even bigger.  That is a good thing!

No comments: