When I was pregnant with my second child, I worried that I would resent him.
I worried that he'd interfere with the little life we had built with our first son. It almost felt as if we were betraying Ben. I felt actual guilt about wanting another baby.
As a result, I was incredibly overprotective of Ben at first. In fact, when I went in to the hospital for Aidan Kai's birth, my biggest worry was Ben. Would he be okay without us? Would he be confused by this new person in the house? How would he react to seeing me in the hospital? How would he feel about his new baby brother? How could we make sure he still felt really, truly loved while we were tending to the endless needs of a newborn?
I never thought that what would actually happen was that I would sometimes resent Ben for not allowing me to be the kind of mother to Aidan Kai that I was to him.
When it was "just Ben," I would come home from work, plop myself down on the floor, and spend time with him, one-on-one, uninterrupted. We'd play ball, we'd read books, we'd laugh and tickle and sing and play.
When it was "just Ben," bath time was unhurried, fun, and even educational. I would play float and sink games with him, pop bubbles, and narrate everything that I was doing (just as the parenting books told me I should).
When it was "just Ben," meal times were calm and simple and organized. I'd prepare healthy meals for him, with lots of variety, and I'd take the time to feed him (or help him feed himself).
When it was "just Ben," time in the car was quality time. I'd play Baby Mozart (just as the parenting books told me I should), I would talk to him, responding to his coos and gurgles at first, then his words, and eventually his frighteningly well-developed sentences.
Now when I get home from work, I am bombarded by the squeals of two very happy boys. They both want to play with Mama. They both want attention. And inevitably, Ben wins. He is bigger. He is louder. He is demanding. So when I plop down on the floor to play, it is usually Ben that commandeers the whole thing. He is the one who dictates what game we play. Aidan Kai just ends up following along.
Bath time now usually consists of trying to keep Aidan off of "Ben's side" of the bathtub, and trying to get the baby done and out of there as quickly as possible so a war does not break out over the toys floating around.
Meals now are whatever we can scrounge together, and Aidan is often on his own, which means more of the spaghetti ends up in his lap than in his mouth.
And car rides are now spent listening to one of Ben's dissertations on superheroes and classmates and dragons and dinosaurs, during which I inevitably have to try to come up with some really good answers to some really good questions ("Mama, is it dark inside our bodies, or light?")...all this while Aidan Kai either sits quietly listening or shrieks "Mama!" repeatedly, trying to get his share of the attention.
When it was "just Ben," he didn't have to share me. He had me all to himself.
All the time.
Aidan Kai has to share me.
All the time.
Granted, Aidan doesn't seem to mind. He seems happy just to be with us, hanging out, being included. He's so damned easy-going, so easily pleased, that it makes me feel even worse.
There is almost never undivided attention for "just him." Sometimes, in fact, I feel like there is nothing that is Just His.
This week, he got his First Official blood-pouring-from-his-mouth-busted-lip...a gift from big brother Ben. Just like all his other firsts: Aidan Kai's first shoes, first rocking horse, first bike...all his important firsts have been hand-me-downs from Ben. There has been nothing of great importance that I can say has been all his own, just for Aidan.
I realize there are pros and cons to everything. I realize that, sometimes, by giving your first child your undivided attention, he can grow up to be...well, let's just say "difficult." I know that second (or third or fourth!) babies can grow up to be more resilient, more easy-going, tougher...I see that already in Aidan. And I wonder often if this is all actually good for him...
But it still frustrates--and saddens--me that by being the second child, Aidan often gets a harried, exhausted, multi-tasking mother, another hand-me-down.