Yes, that is a photo of my horrible toes (no, I very obviously have not gone for a pedicure lately) and yes, the colour of nail polish is horrible. I will explain shortly.
One of the things that I have found the hardest about having a new little one is trying to find a balance between meeting the needs of little Baby Bean, who would like to nurse for most of his waking moments and meeting the needs of Pk, my pretty much constant companion and, frankly, one of the loves of my life. I have so enjoyed her over the last few months, we can do so much together and while she has done a really great job of adjusting to being a big sister, at times, she seems really lost and hurt and, at times we are seeing the results in her behaviour. I have heard of other mothers with the same struggle and thankfully, there was a great article in Mothering a few months ago about the struggles in transitioning from one to two that prepared me a bit for the pain and guilt.
I have tried all of the usual things and a few of the less usual. I have learned to multitask even more than I had in the past - nursing and reading, nursing and doing puzzles, nursing and attempting to change diapers... it helps but whatever anyone says, it isn't enough, at least, not in this house. We have taken Pk on some special outings, everyone who has brought a gift for the baby has been incredibly thoughtful and has included Pk and we have tried to involve her in in caring for both her brother and for her own baby. It's been interesting to see the results.
One thing that was a complete flop was trying to look at photos together. Much of Baby Bean's baby gear is stuff that we used for Pk and she asks almost constantly about whether she used something and parrots back the responses we have given her (I constantly hear "You fed me milk from your body ALL THE TIME?"). I thought it might help her to see photos of us doing things for her as an infant and us using the stuff for her. That was a disaster. She couldn't grasp that the pics were of her and it seemed to reinforce for her that Baby Bean was the centre of our universe.
I have tried to have Dh take Baby for a bit in the afternoon and she and I do some of our "homeschooling" activities. She enjoys that and we have done some fun things but I have to say, more power to anyone who homeschools. Pk is not a risk taker and when she feels confident, she will happily do something but otherwise, she digs in and gets stubborn and it drives me CRAZY. She knows all the letters, many of their sounds and, at just shy of 3 years old, is now developing her sight vocab and writing several letters of the alphabet. On the other hand, she hates numbers and counting and refuses to do almost anything with that. I know it will come because she was exactly the same with colours and then woke up one day and knew them all but I want it to happen NOW. Amazing when you think that at work, I am known for being an incredibly patient teacher who works well with special ed. kids!
The three things that have worked best at continuing to connect have surprised me a bit. The first, which makes things complicated, is that she is still in bed with me. I say with me as opposed to with us because I sleep with the kids and Dh is in Pk's bed. It doesn't make for good sleep for me but she seems to really, really need that connection at night. I don't mind for now but it will have to change eventually when I have more will and more strength.
The second, that has come to be something that I really enjoy, is that we go for walks. I bought a used Joovy Caboose from Craigslist and it was one of the most wonderful ideas I have had. If you haven't seen one, it's a tandem stroller where the baby's seat clips in the front section and directly behind is a combination riding platform and seat for an older child. Pk can get on and off at will and while she never sits, she loves to stand and watch the world go by and I get exercise that I wouldn't get if I were waiting for her to catch up. We have explored the neighbourhood, talking about houses we like, pretty gardens, looking at leaves and visiting with neighbours. She helps me check our mailbox and post letters. We have wonderful chats and since Baby Bean is asleep in the front, we can really talk.
The third is that we have started to try to build a sense of her as a "big girl" like mummy. As you probably know if you have been here much, I don't think much of the idea of children wearing make-up and in my world, nailpolish counts as make-up. I was a bit concerned when she came home from daycare one day with polish on her toenails that the older girls had put on. I debated what to do about it but decided that toes go into shoes and socks and I didn't want to risk losing a wonderful daycare situation based on that. Pk noticed that I somethings wear polish on my toes and asked me to do hers, too. After some thought and conferring with dh, we decided that it wasn't a big deal and mummy/Pk pedicures have become a weekly event. We even took her to the store and let her choose the polish colour (hence the photo above). We also bought her a cross necklace to wear in honour of the anniversary of her baptism last year and she is wearing that daily. She wanted one because I wear one and now, at least once a day, she draws my attention to the fact that we "are the same."
Motherhood so often perplexed/concerns/frustrates me and makes me feel completely inept and then we find a way through. I wouldn't change a minute of it!