Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

What’s Coming June 8, 2010

Filed under: Family Life — leighj @ 7:32 pm

Yesterday Patrick turned to me and said, “I can’t believe we’re having another baby.” I’ve been feeling back and forth between, “Ugh, I have 3 more months of this” and “In three months, we are going to have another baby to care for. We’re not ready!” We’re so excited to have him on his way, and I think that he’ll hold his own, as he likes to kick Seamus while Seamus sits on my lap, but we are a little nervous about how busy it’s going to be around here.

I was reading this article last week about parents being afraid that they won’t be able to love the second child as much as the first or finding the older child is too big and not as loveable after the baby is born. I’m not worried about loving both boys. At all. But I’m having a hard time picturing this baby and imagining how he might be different from Seamus. I know he’ll be different, because I haven’t seen two kids in one family who are very much alike at all, except sometimes in looks, but I’m just not sure how someone could be different from Seamus. He’s just exactly like what I think a baby is. And I think my perception of that is just because I’ve learned how to be around a baby by being around him, so he’s trained me as much as I’ve trained him, and then there will be this new baby who will have to fit into this picture and train both of us, or adapt? I just don’t know.

I think the anxieties about this are stemming in part from the equal footing discussion, even though of course, circumstances can never be entirely equal for them. By default, Seamus will have had a full year of attention, savings, a room, etc. What does the new baby get? Parents that have taken care of a baby, someone to steal any toy that looks like fun…

Those of you who have more than one child (especially who have more than one of the same gender), tell me, when did you figure out that your children were different people? Birth, later, not yet? Those of you in families of more than one child of the same gender, how are you different from your siblings, because I think this may also be confusing me because I never had to differentiate myself from another girl in the same family.

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2 Responses to “What’s Coming”

  1. John T. Says:

    Your new baby will be much smaller than Seamus. If and when they are the same size you will have had enough time to tell them apart. Still, my mom would refer to each of us from time to time as a hyphenated version of all our names: Joembo, get in here!

    It’s gonna be fun, you’ll see!

  2. Amanda Hughes Says:

    As the youngest of three girls and the mother of two daughters, I am intimately aware of the rhythms and cycles of all things female. Our lineup in age determined our distinct emotional character differences. My oldest sister maintained hegemonic control over our tripod with the use of brute force and wit, while my middle sister promoted neutrality and acted as a sort of Switzerland between number 1 and 3, which usually equated to always sitting in the middle seat in the car so I would not squeal every time the oldest looked my way. As the baby, I performed and made people laugh. Now, as adults we still casually fall into our roles. Although we no longer argue and bicker, we still defer to the original hierarchy. There will always be a certain authority to my older sister, while I know my middle sis will continue to emit a more sincere and empathetic quality.

    With my own daughters, I watch with curiosity as the sister saga replays. I enjoy watching their intimacy take shape and smile when they protect each other from harm. They sincerely love one another and hug immediately upon separation, but they also give each other the most grief. Competition for resources is fierce in our house and I wonder when they will learn to share the bounty. As I yell, “be nice to your sister, she is your best friend for life!,” I wonder when they will start to comprehend my message. Sometime in middle school or maybe college they will finally realize that their true ally rests right beside them.


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