As a second child I had never really considered the impact my arrival had on my older brother – it’s an impact that despite the years has remained present into adulthood – subtle jealousies and competitive instincts which can still reappear between us in moments of tension or stress.
So I look at my son today and I wonder if he has any clue that in around seven weeks the entire landscape of his family is going to change; because he will no longer be an only child; he will be a big brother. Of course we have read books to him about babies (Pirate Pete becomes a Big Brother, There’s a House Inside my Mummy etc) and we have talked about him being Mummy and Daddy’s special helper; he has heard the baby’s heartbeat and sweetly tells us that she says “boom boom boom”. But still when I misguidedly asked if he would like a baby to come and live with us the answer was a resounding “NO!”. The kind of emphatic no that only a two year old can deliver with such immovable certainty that you rack your brain for compromises. Except this time there are no compromises my love, your sister is coming, your world will be changed forever and even Mummy and Daddy can’t tell you how that will look and feel.
We are all learning here.
I have diligently read the recommendations from other mothers; to make sure that I’m not holding your sister when you first meet, to give you a gift from the new arrival, to try not to make any dramatic changes. But of course the changes will be dramatic. You will need to learn to share me, I will need to divide my time, you will have to wait for cuddles, for playtime, for attention. And although I cannot wait to meet the newest member of our family I would be lying if I told you that there wasn’t a part of my heart that is already breaking, that I’m not already mourning for this time when we are still three and not four.
A part of me, just like you my love, is not ready and probably never will be.
This pregnancy seems to have snuck up on us all; there is no nursery decorated for your sister, the crib remains in the loft, the hospital bag unpacked. I have hastily bought her a handful of clothes online during your nap. But I routinely forget how many weeks I am, I have no idea what type of fruit she is the same size as, whether she is still translucent or covered in hair now or how big her lungs are. Instead I’ve been focusing on baby ballet, taking you swimming and your 27 month review, I’ve been busy negotiating tantrums, teeth cleans and bath-times, I’ve been busily packing snacks, drinks and nappies. I’ve been busy being your Mummy.
And yet already there have been times where the fatigue of pregnancy has prevented me from being the mother I truly want to be. Where TV has replaced us playing choo choo trains on the floor or when I have had neither the patience nor the energy to get you to sleep and Daddy has had to step up. Last week I sat and cried because you called out for me and I had nothing else to give. Daddy took over. And I realised that this is a sign of things to come; that Daddy will need to step up even more and I will need to step back.
So I hope, my darling boy, that you know that my love for you is immovable, that if I seem a little tired and distracted at times, if I miss bedtime or you have to wait for a snuggle, it is not a reflection on how I feel about you. I hope that you know that my cuddles and kisses are not finite, that there will always be enough and they will never run out. But above all I hope that the love in our house will multiply not diminish and that being a big brother will give to you so much more than it could ever take away.