One night, I was crying while holding my baby girl in one arm to the side and hugging my son sitting on my lap. And my son was telling me while also crying, ‘Don’t cry mommy. It’s ok’. Could I have done something more for a different outcome or much lesser impact?
Here is a snippet of my son’s life before the arrival of the baby…
I am a stay-at-home mom so the three years of my son’s life only revolved around me. Yes, we went to play groups, spent holidays with families, and traveled the world. However, it was not until he was three that we decided to send him to nursery / day care full time.
In those three years, it was all about him and mommy. I woke him up, prepared his food, watched cartoons with him, read books, played with his toys, gave him a shower, put him to bed, etc. We even did household chores and grocery together. Basically, from the time he wakes up until he sleeps, we did everything together.
We are expats, so we are far away from his grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, relatives, and friends. When we visited my family in the Philippines or his grandparents in Florida, and spent Thanksgiving with his cousins in New York, he would never interact with anybody except me. He would cling to me like his life depended on it! If he can’t see me, he would cry. If somebody picked him up, he’d resist. If he doesn’t know you, he would not talk to you (which is good though to an extent). He had never socialize to anybody except me. My husband is a pilot, so my son is used to him not being around everyday.
My son is a little bit slow or delayed in some aspects, like speaking, reading, and potty training. We are making progress now. Though I wonder if we have sent him to nursery early, could he have overcome his clingy-ness and improve his social skills? Well, we will never know.
In short, my son had my full and undivided attention for three years.
2 months before the baby’s arrival…
On my 32nd week of pregnancy (October), we went to Miami and stayed with my in-laws. We decided to send him to a nursery. That way, he will improve his social skills, learn to be independent, and introduce him to kids of his age.
My husband had a three-week vacation, so he was able to look after our son. The transition was easy. He got used to daddy waking him up, bathing him, preparing his food, dropping him off and picking him up from nursery, and putting him to bed.
My husband and his parents were also slowly preparing him of the baby’s arrival – telling him everyday that he will have a sister soon and mommy’s attention will be divided to both of them. I would let my son rub my tummy and prompt him to say ‘good morning sister’.
The baby’s arrival…
After his school, he visited me in the hospital and saw his sister. He was so happy and delighted. We were all relieved. But…
A week later…
My husband went back to work overseas. So it was just us and my in-laws. It finally dawned on him what it means to have a sister. It means less for him – less time and attention. It also means that he has to learn to share and to wait sometimes to get what he wants.
It all started with bedtime. He would cry and demand of my attention and ask me to lie down beside him until he sleeps. And it will tragically coincide with the baby’s time. Sometimes, I had to give my crying baby to my mom-in-law so I can give him the bedtime attention that he wants. Recently, he would wake up in the middle of night shouting ‘no baby’.
He would act like a baby and want to be carried as well. He started asking for diapers and bottle for his milk. Whenever the baby cries, he would shout at her in an attempt to stop her from crying. Because he knows that if the baby cries, I would pick her up. He started pushing her and telling me to ‘put her away’.
He is clingier and more demanding than ever
What I am doing…
More Mommy-and-son time.
I just give him extra attention, extra time, extra hugs and kisses. When the baby takes a nap, we read books or play toy cars together. My in-laws could look after the baby for a while. I try to be always in the same room as him – which usually prevents tantrums and jealousy.
Involve him in baby’s daily activities
I let him watch, touch and hold the baby (with supervision). I would ask him to sing ABC or any nursery rhymes when the baby cries.
Be more patient, more understanding and more affectionate.
I understand he is trying to cope with his feelings, jealousy and confusion. I tell him that it will only be for a few months until she is not dependent on me anymore. I’m not sure he understands.
It has already been two months and this is still going on. I learn as I go.
Sometimes I feel guilty that he doesn’t get the same attention he is used to. Guilty that I am tired and sleepy.
I know this phase shall soon pass. But it could be physically and emotionally draining.
I know that he will come around soon.
I just hope that he understands I have done my best.
Carmen is from the Philippines, but currently lives in Doha, Qatar with her husband and kids. She is a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful kids, 3-year-old son and and 2-month-old baby girl. Read more about Carmen, her family and their adventures here or follow these links to chat to her on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter.
Do you have a parenting struggle or challenge you’d like to write about? If you’re interested in contributing to the My Mountain series please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.