When I was pregnant with F and worrying about how it was possible to love another child as much as I love my daughter, someone said to me that ‘love doesn’t divide, it multiplies’. Of course they were right – my maternal love wasn’t finite and when F arrived it simply grew.
I just wish the same was true of my time and attention.
But it’s not.
Trying to keep both children happy and entertained is a constant juggling act – and one at which I’m failing. It feels like I spend my days constantly sidelining my daughter because I’m feeding F, or trying to get him to sleep, whilst simultaneously feeling like I’m forever plonking F on his play mat or bouncy chair so I can make Playdoh cupcakes. The problem is I have two children, who are very demanding, albeit in very different ways.
It all came to a head this week when we were struck down by the first bug of the season. Actually it was three bugs – a cold, a stomach upset and an eye infection. What exactly do you do when you’re halfway through comfort feeding a nine-week-old with gammy eyes and your pre-schooler starts throwing up on the landing? Luckily for me I didn’t have to answer my own question as, by a complete stroke of luck, (for us not them) we were staying with my parents and so my mum was able to step up to the vom-cleaning plate like a good’un.
It didn’t stop me feeling awful though. Awful that I couldn’t split myself in two and help both my children when they needed me. Awful that I had to choose and that – on that occasion – it was my daughter who had to move into second place. Awful knowing that this would be the first of many times when one of my children wouldn’t – couldn’t – be my priority.
But, despite that pointless and irrational feeling of guilt about something over which I have no control, I know deep down that it will be OK. That I’ll muddle through and that the kids will emerge relatively unscathed.
I read once that siblings get closer in age as they grow up and I can see that. There will be a time, double illness aside, where I can keep them both happy at the same time and doing the same thing. In the grand scheme of things it won’t be too long before all three of us will be happily snuggled under a blanket watching a film or kicking a ball down at the park.