Friday, September 10, 2010

Reconnecting

This week I've been making a more concerted effort to reconnect with Margaret. At the end of my pregnancy I was feeling really touched out. In labor, I was very sharp with her when I didn't want her leaning on the tub. It didn't get much better after that, either. It has turned into "Margaret, you can't climb on me!" "Margaret, get down!" when I'm nursing Isaac. When she gets into things (like my scissors today- which is really my fault for leaving them where she could get them), I'm a little brusque and rude when I take them from her. And when I move her out of situations, I'm a little too sharp and forceful picking her up. Even McKay has noticed it in the evenings. And I feel awful about it. All my hormones are wired to connect with Isaac and Margaret gets left on her own.

I could tell myself, "Well, I've never spanked her or slapped her hands when she gets into things. Plus, I need to be forceful taking the scissors away because they're dangerous! And I'm not actually yelling, it's just loud commands." But I know that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if I think I'm not yelling or I'm harsher than usual because it's a safety issue.

What matters is the message she's getting. If she can't see that I love her when I'm curt with her, even for a "good" reason, then for all intents and purposes, I don't love her. I can see it in her face that she interprets my actions as a withdrawal of love. I can love her all I want in my mind, but if it's not in my actions none of it matters because she's not feeling it.

So this week, I've been trying harder to be patient with her. I try not to show my frustration when she refuses to use the potty before we go to the park. I try to understand that she wants to nurse because Isaac gets to nurse all the time and that she still needs me physically.

What has helped me? I make a lot of games up or sing songs. I'll chase her down and let her chase me like a monster when we get our shoes on (or pants in her case). I try to do hand games with her when I'm nursing Isaac and I don't want to share my lap. I also appeal to the "big sister" side: "Margaret, do you want to show Isaac how to use the potty?" That's a popular one. When she gets in her mind that we're going to the park, she doesn't want to do anything except go out the door. Buck naked. And she doesn't want to potty before we go even though I know she'll need to in 20 minutes. But she does like to show Isaac how to be a person and use the potty and get dressed.

I try to soak in our nursing to sleep sessions and hold her close and let her know I love her. I try to apologize when I know I've crossed the line. And I try to be fun and include her in our daily activities. But it's hard. Isaac is so easy: I nurse him and hold him and all his needs get met, but Margaret is more complicated. What have you done to keep connected with your older kids?

9 comments:

  1. Oh, I don't have any advice for you on this, but I need to hear whatever people tell you!!! We are having the same issues here in our home. I have no idea how to show my toddler that I love him, and I spend so much time "correcting" him (or yelling at him and not following through, because I'm nursing a baby). Sigh. Being a mom of two is challenging!

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  2. I just have to say this is my biggest worry about when this little girl comes is hurting kade. I dont want to hurt his tender little heart and its going to break it for him not to be the center of my attention anymore.

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  3. I don't have much advice... I want to know what others say to you. I've the same fear as PP. ESP with twins.

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  4. All you really can do is be firm consistent and let them know you still love them.
    I worry sometimes that I am too harsh with my almost 4yr old daughter. It gets easier with time, because the older he is the less he needs me, and the more time she gets with him. She LOVES being an older sister. She is constantly loving on him. And even that is hard when I have to tell her to back off. (he doesn't like to be cuddled)
    Sometimes when I yell at her, (no buttering that up I actually yell) I will feel bad and I will have to sit her down and explain that "you know that I still love you. Sometimes mommy gets upset, and I don't mean to. I still love you and care about you. I don't love you any less because your brother is here. I don't love him more than you. I love you the same because you are BOTH my children, and you are both wonderful."
    She knows that sometimes I loose my temper. But she does too. A common phrase in my house
    "I'm sorry"
    It's ok, I still love you."
    I say it to her and she says it to me. As long as the child knows there is love in the end they will not be scarred for life because you are splitting your love.
    And including them in the baby helps a lot. Letting them get things "for the baby" is great! Whenever you get a chance to be with just them, TAKE IT!

    Your never a bad parent as long as you love your children. All a child really needs is to be loved.

    And in response to the hurt look on their face... It cuts your soul to see that look. But I promise they wont hold it against you if you have a good reason for making that look. Kids bounce back. Just love them.

    Heather you are a WONDERFUL mom!! Never forget that your children love you. Children are the best forgivers. So forgive yourself. :)

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  5. When our 2.5 year old messes up she will often say "try again". Now I can also use this phrase when I mess up, lose my temper or brush her aside too any times. She can understand the need to try again to master a skill.
    To stay connected I always try to spend some ( even short) amount of time with her every day when baby is napping. Even if it is just 10 minutes here to color and 15 minutes there to have her in my lap reading a book. I have also pointed out that sometimes Ender gets help first and sometimes she gets helped first.
    Our mornings often start with her coming into our bed to snuggle. I make sure to move Ender to his daddy or to his crib so it is just mommy and Arora snuggling.

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  6. I went through the same thing with my oldest when her little sister came on the scene. The tandem breastfeeding helped. And I always made sure to read her stories at bedtime, just her and me while daddy held the baby. And I showered her with lots of hugs and kisses and praise. With a newborn sometimes there's not much else you can do. It sounds to me like you are doing awesome.

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  7. I actually am experiencing the same issues, though we have just the toddler for now. It's so hard to not just lose it when he gets into things and I have to repeat myself a million times, and other frustrating things.

    This week I am studying section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants where it talks about how the priesthood should be used properly---Christlike attributes and reproving by the Holy Ghost and showing afterwards an increase of love---that's the part I'm really working on. The blessings that go along with it are pretty cool too. I think it has a fair application to any stewardship we have.

    Hang in there. Sounds like you have some good ideas already. :)

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  8. Just wanted to say that we are going through the same things! I have definitely felt a strain in my relationship with Jefferson since Caleb was born. I get frustrated with Jefferson so easily now and he has so many tantrums...while Caleb is so much easier and is all smiles.

    I often don't like the way I am handling things but am just trying to figure out what works & improves the relationship. Still trying to figure it out. :-p Lately I've been trying to focus more on giving Jefferson that one-on-one time when Caleb is asleep even when I feel like just resting, eating, reading, etc and making sure I do fun activities with him everyday. Definitely helping, even if tiring!

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  9. Even with my fourth I'm struggling with this. Fortunately my 3rd is very attached to her daddy and doesn't notice any lack of attention from me, but it breaks my heart a little. I do try to play with her more, which is easier now that I'm no longer pregnant, and it seems to keep us more connected, especially if the play is more physical.

    I really like what you said about love. I never thought about it like that, but it's so true - they can't know what you're thinking, only what you show them. I really need to remember that - even with my older girls.

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