This is part 4 in a 7 part series. Click here to go to Part 1.
Everything is a phase. It was one of the first things I heard as a new parent and something I’ve had to remind myself of in recent days.
I want to preface this by saying our first child, two-and-a-bit-year-old Charlotte, has been truly amazing throughout the first two weeks of her new little brother Jonathon joining our family.
It still amazes me when he’s screaming and she toddles up beside him and coos, “It’s okay, baby Jono”, and he immediately stops crying. We encouraged Charlotte to talk to Sarah’s belly throughout the pregnancy, so it makes sense that Jono knows her voice.
Her preparation was a significant part of our transition from one kid to two. We needed to help her know what to expect and adapt to the new reality.
It was important to treat Charlotte as an individual as much as a part of this new team she found herself in. My morning walks with her, Sarah’s gardening with her and our special daddy-daughter date to her first movie – Finding Dory – have all been part of that.
But amazing as Charlotte has been at adapting to having another attention-grabber around 24-7, this week a few cracks have started to emerge.
It’s completely normal, I acknowledge that, and Sarah showed me an article that explained that any sort of “acting out” is positive. It means the child isn’t bottling up their concerns and it makes it easier for the parent to address.
However, it’s still hard to watch. Heartbreaking, at times.
This is my little princess – yes, I know how spoilt that sounds, but if you’re a father of a daughter, you’ll get it. And I hate to see her hurting. Especially emotionally.
Just yesterday, Charlotte went through a burst of jealousy, the likes of which she’d never displayed before.
It wasn’t anything over the top, but whenever I was holding Jono, she wanted me to pick her up; whenever Sarah was holding or feeding Jono, she wanted to be near Sarah or for Sarah to pick her up. And because Sarah can’t, simply because she’s still recovering from the birth, we’ve had a few tantrums.
Then, my brother – Uncle Mark – came over to meet his new nephew Jono for the first time. Uncle Mark works in the country, and opportunities to head back to the city are few and far between. But every time he comes, without fail he’ll make time to see Charlotte.
The two are smitten with each other – “Bubbles?” is usually the first word out of Charlotte’s mouth when she sees him, as she drags him outside with a bottle of bubble solution.
It was always going to be a big test when it came time to share Uncle Mark with someone else.
And it went probably as expected, to be honest.
First, Charlotte demanded Uncle Mark pick her up and carry her around (no small feat given a football injury to his ribs suffered the day before). Then, whenever “baby Jono” was mentioned, she took Uncle Mark to the fridge and pointed to all the different photos of herself. The tears finally flowed when Uncle Mark had a hold of Jono.
I picked up Charlotte and gave her “daddy cuddles”. We sat with Uncle Mark and Jono, to show that we’re a team and that love is not a zero-sum game; just because Jono receives attention and affection, does not mean Charlotte loses it.
Regardless, it’s still tough. Tougher on her, no doubt, and it will be something we have to continue to work on.
But, ultimately, everything is a phase and we’ll help Charlotte through this one as best we can.
Hopefully we’ll soon enter a new one: harmony, or as close to that ideal as is realistically possible.
Part 5: The first day back