By Lisa Davidson
Books, videos and magazines – good advice is endless when you become a first-time mom. Once the second line on the pregnancy test appeared, the research can begin. When the scenario happens for the second time, things are usually a little different. Family and friends are happy but not as excited, books don’t need to be bought because, covered in dust, they already took over the shelves, and mom and dad are more relaxed since they’ve done it before. But as much as you might have it down to hassle the daily routines with one child, there is no parenting class that could possibly prepare you for life with two.
Still, I thought to myself, a little preparation couldn’t hurt. I wanted to be ready for the second baby. And I wanted my then one-year-old daughter to be ready for her little sister as well.
Parenting expert and author of America’s Bestselling Series What to Expect When Expecting Heidi Murkoff suggests in Baby’s Second Year to “hope for the best, but be prepared for anything”. An important step is to announce the arrival of the new baby in time and get the older sibling on board. While Murkoff warns that such an announcement can bring up mixed emotions – ranging from confusion and excitement to anger and anxiety – my daughter was ecstatic.
While she proudly announced to everyone who looked at her for more than a nanosecond that “mommy has a baby in her tummy”, I was haunted by the thoughts about how much will possibly change, if I could ever love my second as much as my fist and how the new baby will fit into our life. Parenting expert Vicki Lansky explains in Welcoming your second Baby that those worries are completely normal. Still, I didn’t seem able to relax until the day was finally there and my second daughter born.
To my surprise, all the concerns where miraculously forgotten. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns about possible sibling jealousy, regress in already reached milestones and temper problems in the older sibling …. my day, however, didn’t consist of trying to balance my time between taking care of a newborn and paying enough attention to an 18-month old. I had to tame my oldest joyful excitement about being a big sister to make sure she doesn’t run off with her new BFF in her toy-stroller.
After a few weeks I felt like a complete champ: having it down to safely secure the newborn in a pack-and-play while the toddler plays, balancing nap times and strolling mall and grocery with the baby tightly wrapped around my chest while pushing my toddler in front of me. We were a good team – for about a year. That is when the terrible two’s turned my toddler into a whiny tantrum prone tiny human, that tried to make life as complicated as possible, especially, when little sister needed something.
Fights started to occur, toys didn’t want to be shared and meal times turned into an hour long disaster because of extreme pickiness. Good advice from family, friends and even complete strangers on the street like “enjoy them while they are so little” or “it will get better” was nice to hear but not very constructive. All I could do was trying to keep my sanity and my children safe from accidentally harming each other.
But time went by and we did manage. And I have to admit, it did get better.
We are still being haunted by terrifying tantrums and tantalizing power plays but the two have grown into truly best friends who stand by and fight for each other. There isn’t much silence in our house anymore but seeing them play together and enjoy each other, and to think about the fact that they will always have the comfort of a sibling so close in age and to heart makes all the stressful and busy days forgotten.
And what is a little parenting stress compared to giving your children the gift of having a lifelong love and companionship?
American Academy of Pediatrics (2009) Caring for your baby and young child. USA: Bantam Books
Lansky, V. (1990). Welcoming your second baby. Deephaven, MN: The Book Peddlers
Murkoff, H. / Mazel, S. (2011) What to expect the second year. New York, NY: Workman Publishing Company
Lisa Davidson, mother of two energetic and drama-prone little divas, age 2 and 4, studied Journalism in Munich and spend most of her time before child writing for various publishers and travelling the world. After multiple moves within and outside Germany, her latest pit-stop brought her to Texas, far from home but not the heart.
Now the days contain less scribbling in journals but accomplishing tricky toddler crafts from Pinterest, less strolling in high heels through European metropolises but trying to connect her daughters with her own culture. She is a busy mommy that knows how hard it can be to be far away from old friends and family and wants to help fellow moms to stay always true to themselves – no matter how stressful life can be or where their journey might take them.