My husband and I were ecstatic when we first learned that we were expecting our second child. It happened much quicker than the first time and meant that our kids would be about two years apart. As my pregnancy progressed, a voice in my head kept asking: How is this new baby going to affect my relationship with my son?
While the arrival of our first child changed our lives, our career mindset and lifestyle remained mostly the same. Both our occupations were fast-paced, demanding, and required travel. After a while, we decided that the necessities of our jobs were not in line with what we wanted for our family, and we both agreed that I would leave my full-time job and focus on our priorities.
Little did I know that a positive pregnancy test would appear just a few weeks after I turned in my notice! The timing of this blessing meant I had 9 months of quality time together with my son; all the while knowing the addition of our daughter would mean less time for him. I wondered how he would react to the change. I was mourning our time together before it was even gone.
Fast-forward about a year.
Our baby girl is here and almost six months old! The first few months of an infant’s life are an exhausting blur of feedings, crying, diapers, and loads of laundry. Add a toddler to the mix and some days it feels like you’re on one of those spinning rides at an amusement park without a seatbelt.
Things are spinning a little slower these days, and I am starting to realize that what I experienced was different than what I expected. When my son was born, my days revolved around him. I would often snuggle with him long after he fell asleep nursing or lie next to him on the floor to gaze up at the ceiling fan together.
Finding time for moments like this with my daughter is more difficult.
While babies sleep a considerable amount those first few months, toddlers typically take one nap a day (if any). During my daughter’s naps, I get to spend quality one-on-one time with my son. We laugh and play, and make memories of our moments together. However, most of the time when my daughter is awake so is my son. Which means I am almost always splitting the time and attention I have for her.
Perhaps if I were still working things would be different. However, now I spend my days preparing meals and snacks, diffusing tantrums, playing with Legos, and racing Hot Wheels. I simply don’t have the same quiet moments throughout my day to snuggle with my baby and enjoy her presence.
When I do have one-on-one time with my daughter, I sometimes struggle to shut down the running list of tasks I could be doing. It’s easy to take for granted that I can lay her next to me in a room and get things done, but then I lose out on that time to connect with her. I have to remember to focus just on her, as I did with my son when he was little. The time I used to reserve for getting things done while my son naps, I now reserve for her.
Because she deserves that time, just like my son.
Of course, the realities and responsibilities of life mean that some days this doesn’t happen. As I’ve come to this realization, I am more intent on finding these quiet moments with her. I know they will be gone too soon. So I snuggle with her a little longer, ignore the growing to-do list, watch her as she discovers the world around her, and spend time getting to know her.
Somehow, the weeks and months go by even faster now. Adjusting to life as a family of four is a process. There will still be time to share laughs and bedtime stories with your oldest. So, in the rush of daily life, stop and enjoy the small moments with your little one too. After all, these are the moments we often remember most fondly once they’re gone.