¡Feliz sábado, amig@s! And, happy September! (How is it already September?)
This summer has flown by as D. and I have been adjusting to being a family of four, finding our new normal. Baby J. is already nine weeks. Two months?!
These past two months have also afforded me time to reflect on my life as mamá to a toddler and infant with all of the well wishes, congratulations, and…questions I’ve gotten from friends and family. What’s it like with two?, I’m asked often.
I’m actually thankful for all of the questions because they’ve got me thinking deep and hard about my parenting. Today I’d like to share a few of the most common questions I’ve gotten over the past few weeks and then offer alternative ones that I think are more respectful and productive in how we view babies.
Since so many other parents and child experts have written more eloquently than I ever could on these topics, I’ve included links to articles and blog posts in case you’re interested in learning more.
I look forward to keeping the conversation going, friends.
Honestly, this question makes me feel awkward, and although my friends and family have the most loving intentions in mind when they pose it, it implies that I think about my child in terms of good and bad, which is not how I want to categorize my (or any child) child. I think that often the underlying questions implied are, does he sleep well?, does he cry a lot?, is he easy to take care of?
Again, my friends and family have the most honest and loving intentions in mind when they ask if he’s a good baby. However, a more productive way to talk about a new baby might be by reframing the question to something like, what’s he like? or, have you gotten a chance to see his personality yet?, or what have you learned about him?
My 2.5-year old daughter also gets asked quite a few questions. I must say I love that adults find her important enough to get down to her eye level and show they care about her by asking her how she feels. She often chooses not to answer, and that’s okay; I don’t answer for her or prod her to say something in return.
The two most common questions she has heard since her brother was born are, Do you love your little brother? and Are you a good big sister?
I find the second question – are you a good big sister? – to fall in the same category as “is he a good baby?”. Besides putting E. on the spot (no one likes to evaluate themselves or their performance!), this question requires her to think of herself in terms of good/bad, a moral concept that I’m not convinced a 2.5-year old fully grasps. And, does she love her little brother? I don’t know; I’ve never asked her. In fact, D. and I have chosen to refrain from asking her, or from making statements like, “Baby J., your sister loves you so much” because I don’t think anyone, adult or child, should feel pressured to like, much less love, another person, especially someone they didn’t invite into their lives.
A few friends have pleasantly surprised me with some really thoughtful questions; in fact, I was so taken off guard that I didn’t have an immediate response, until now. Below are three of my favorite questions.
How has the transition been from one to two children?
It’s been challenging, but easier than I expected. I recently wrote about my postpartum 2 experience here on the blog. Mostly I say “easier” because the anticipation of an impending change is always worse than the actual change, at least for me. I spent many a sleepless night the last few months of pregnancy with baby J. wondering how I’d manage with two children. How will I get them both dressed in the morning? What do I do when they both cry at the same time? How can I nurse my baby with a toddler running around? And, you know what? I’ve survived. No, more than survive, our family has been doing really well. Some days are incredibly stressful and exhausting while others leave me thinking, wow, I’m doing this and it’s okay. RIE has helped me be more mindful, present, in my parenting, and to take it one day at a time.
What has most surprised you, what did you not expect?
Most seasoned mom friends warned me that the toddler would be the most difficult to manage, but I’m finding the opposite to be true because E. and I had a predictable and consistent daily rhythm going from January until right when J. was born. But, newborns are anything but predictable! One day they take four-hour naps; the next, they scream for hours on end; and, the next, they cluster feed for three hours straight. I’m the kind of person who thrives on routine and predictability, so adapting to life with a newborn has been what I like to call a refining fire.
What are you doing differently this time around with a newborn?
A lot actually. Thanks to the wisdom of Magda Gerber and RIE, I’ve grown a lot as a mother and, as a result, I’ve changed both my attitude towards parenting and my actions towards my children. Below is a short list of some of the changes in my parenting an infant this time around. I hope to write more in depth about these later.
- Get up, get dressed and ready for the day before 1pm. Ha! I attribute this to pure experience and necessity.
- I avoid carrying baby J. in a sling or carrier as much as possible.
- Better mommy self-care (no mommy martyr this time!)
- No forced tummy time for baby J.
- Slow, predictable, and quiet daily routine
- A safe “yes” space for him to play and explore
- I intentionally and authentically converse with my baby
- I have a better understanding of infant sleep
I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these questions. Drop me a line!