The birth of a second child has a profound and, in some cases, devastating impact on a woman’s feelings for her firstborn and yet we don’t talk about it often.
A week after I had my second I remember sobbing in the shower.
I cried silently in that shower many times before as a mother. But this time it was different. I was crying because I realized my husband was spending much more time with our first born: our daughter Adaline.
I missed her.
I realized in that moment that I had not gotten her ready. Not once that week. That my husband was taking her out to play vs. me. My attention was driven now a majority towards my son. I felt unprepared all of a sudden and realized that mentally I did not prepare myself emotionally for the transition from going to one child to two. My daughter was my entire world but now I shared that world with my son and it was hard.
When we first become parents we don’t think our hearts can get any bigger. But they do, eventually. When I found out we were expecting our second I often asked myself, how am I going to love this baby as much as I love my daughter? But after the early days with two children, I realized I had difficulty showing the love and affection to my daughter instead.
Before my son’s arrival, she was still ‘my baby’. Afterwards, she was suddenly a young lady. She seemed so big. It was a weird feeling.
My son is now 18 months and my daughter is 3 and it’s still not easy; I still sometimes don’t know how to balance my love evenly.
My son is very clingy. At times when I finally get a break, yet feel I have nothing left to give considering all I truly desire is my own space, I end up neglecting the affection my daughter needs. I feel horrible. I often ask myself, will she ever forgive me? I wonder if she gets weary of hearing me say, “In a minute, monkey, I need to take care of your brother first.”
I want her to know how precious she is to me. I want her to know how much she has taught me. The reason I am a mother is because of her. The reason Mother Muse exists is because of her. If I could put into words the way she has pushed me to be the best version of myself, I would. But no words would come close to how much I adore her and the joy I get from being her mother. And the only way she will know these emotions is if I make time for her and show her.
In the morning when I wake up she is the first person to say “good morning” to me. I then feel shame because I get swarmed with the memories of when I’ve pushed her away.
Though sometimes shame is helpful. It makes you realize what it is you are lacking. Her simple “good morning” or “I love you mommy” sometimes makes me want to cry considering it’s often followed by the question, does she know how much I love her?
I want to apologize over and over again for not giving her all my attention when she needs me. People give you advice about marriage and how to not lose affection for each other once you become parents; but, for me I am still searching and working on my relationship with my daughter.
I made a list of things I need to do for her:
I want us to have time where she gets my undivided attention so she can rebuild her trust in me. I want to slow down my pace with her when it comes to work. I am often being pulled in so many directions. If someone had foreshadowed this emotional road ahead before I had my second, I am not sure if I would have believed them. The thought of neglecting my daughter would sound outrageous but unfortunately it happens. And I am still learning.
Growing your family is like learning how to love with balance all over again.
Love is complex, balance is complex and motherhood is exhausting. Finding the time to balance all your attention to one child alone is hard.
The arrival of a second child is by no means the catalyst. Whatever you are going through right now as a mother one fact remains: balancing your undivided attention to children does not always come easily or naturally.
This concept still remains a taboo of the ‘perfect’ modern family life. Just know you are not alone and some of us are lucky enough where we still get the chance to rebuild our relationships with our children before it’s too late.
I love you, Adaline. Thank you for loving me in return.
Words by Shereen Jupp
Hair by Jaclyn at Ambition Salon
Beauty by Eleni Banakas