The number of baby pictures.
The recollection of her first __________ (fill in the blank – e.g. bath, word, step, facial expression)
The amount of quiet time spent just staring at her.
The list is virtually endless…
I am sure it’s not just me, but sometimes I feel like I am guilty – of ‘something’. I can’t put a word to it. I can’t really be sure it is actually true, but at the end of the day, I FEEL GUILTY! Deep guilt. And then I think more about it and rationalize my actions (or lack thereof). I’m not treating Hailee any different! It is just…different.
But the differences are controllable. I acknowledge them, but always in retrospect. In a multi-step program, acknowledging the problem is the first step to ‘recovery.’ So here I am, openly acknowledging my shortfalls. And I hope by doing so, taking the first step to do something about it.
All of our kids are individuals and have unique personalities, strengths, and weaknesses – as we all do. I am a very firm believer that you “are a product of your environment.” If you grow up loved, nurtured, cared for and about, with a nice place to live and plenty of food on the table, chances are you will be a caring, loving, well-adjusted person and want the same things for your own family someday.
I know that is how I grew up, and I would like to think that is the same environment we have provided for our daughters. I am fairly sure the physical “environment” is the same today (for the most part at least) as it was for Careena when she was Hailee’s age, but there are definitely differences when you stand back and really look closely. So if the environment is the same, why do I feel so guilty?
We are a family of routines. We play with the girls on the floor – tickling, blocks, tea parties. We get their pajamas on, brush their teeth, and read them books. It was the same for Careena when she was the only child…or was it? I think it was a little – different. With Careena, we read multiple books each night from pop-ups and ‘first word’ books, to nursery rhymes and short stories. We played with color-coded toys and the alphabet. Careena was a sponge and we just couldn’t seem to spend enough time with her; she learned and demonstrated everything.
And then came our Hailee. She was a spitting image of her big sister. Everyone that saw her and knew Careena as a newborn, or even just saw pictures were amazed at their resemblance. Careena immediately loved her little sister and could not be separated from her. But our routine changed just a little – it was different.
We still play with the girls, but maybe not as much or for as long in a given play session. And our attention is divided between the two of them and not focused on just one. I think maybe it is because the two girls play so well with each other that we don’t feel as “needed.” We still read books each night, although not as many. We teach Hailee colors and letters, but maybe not with the same level of effort.
I think I feel guilty at times because “I know” that these differences are real – unintentional or not. The guilt comes more from wondering if, no – how – they are affecting Hailee. Will she feel as loved? Will she sense a difference? Will any of this influence how well or fast she learns?
So there it is – my confession of falling short. Of not doing enough. Of guilt. Maybe it is all part of the normal evolution of parenthood. No, I think it can be better controlled if not avoided, but then again, that’s just…
This Dad’s View
Did you sense a difference in how you raised or treated your second child? Your third? Did you ever feel guilty about it?
Great post Mike. I think this is what most parents of multiple children go through. Ric and I notice the difference between how we spent our time differently between Anthony and Ava. We taught Anthony more educational type things. Not that we don’t do that with Ava, we do, just not quite as often because we both have been working and fell short as well. Now that Ric is staying home, we have discussed “stepping it up” more with Ava to make sure she is as prepared as Anthony was when she goes off to school. Do they have to grow up? Wah!
Thank you Lisa! I figured I was not alone, but that is only a minor comfort. Heather and I just had a similar conversation about what we will do to try to be ‘better’ about it last night. It is a learning experience for the parents as much as the children. In the end, I am confident all of our kids will turn out just fine!
I am so glad you can put into words, what we are both feeling. I love your compassion and feeling in this post. I love YOU!
Thank you baby! I love you more!
Hey Mike I feel the same way about Olivia vs. Hannah Not sure if I am doing anything different but I do feel guilty about almost everything I do with Olivia I always question myself whether I did or acted the same with Hannah. My difference is that they are 6 years apart and I was 19 with Hannah and 26 with Olivia. So I feel that I have matured a lot so maybe I do actually do things different. Lol either way I know I love them both the same and make sure they know that too.
Cathy, I think the 6 year difference may be even more challenging. I know that Heather and I sometimes almost forget the age difference between Careena and Hailee and expect Hailee to be able to do the same things, etc. we have to remind ourselves that she is a bit younger. But you are right, the love for them both is off the charts!