As Moms, we know really well that phase in life in which our firstborn turns, in an instant, from being an only child to being the big sibling of the family. It seems like it was yesterday when my house was filled with jealousy as the new baby arrived. If we really think about it, it's virtually impossible for a young child to realize and acknowledge what having a baby sibling really means. Their minds can't assimilate what's going to happen and in how much time.
When I went through that stage, I remember that I prepared thoroughly for the storm that was about to surge, I started by reading every single book and information related to that topic. I asked all my friends, cousins, aunts and grandmas, who had already been through that, to share with me their tips so I could make that period of time easier for my older daughter. The advice that I was given the most by everyone I consulted was the importance of having one-on-one time with my oldest child so she wouldn't feel substituted by the baby.
I graduated with honors from that topic and felt ready to sit down with my daughter and finally let her know the big news that she was going to be a big sister, and that a fantastic and marvelous person was going to arrive to play and have fun with her for the rest of her life, even though she would have to wait 9 long months for it. Suddenly, that fantastic and amazing person turned out to be a baby that cried all day and that needed my full attention. But since I had researched tons of information about that matter, I was ready to apply all the techniques everyone had suggested and in one way or another, I was able to survive those first years.
The thing is that as time passed by, I stopped applying all those suggestions because, according to me, we were already established in this new family dynamic and the "jealousy" phase had already ended. But, does that phase really ends? I don't remember reading anywhere or anyone telling me exactly how much time would that adjustment period last. Could it be six months? One or two years? Would it end as soon as the third baby arrived? Would it last through their teenage years? Or could it last for the rest of our lives?
After several years of supposedly being established as a complete family, I realized that such adjustment period can't be temporary. It doesn’t suddenly end, it actually continues forever reinventing itself. Those phases and needs our kids go through are always changing, but what remains constant, is the necessity to fulfill that need of individualized attention. (I'm sure that term has been defined and studied by someone already.) And by doing so, you create a truly unique and individual relationship with each one of your kids.
There are a million ways to reinvent those special moments. It can be as simple as staying a few extra minutes chatting with them every night at bedtime, going out for an ice-cream, enjoying a movie together or even taking a trip without any other sibling. The important thing is to have that necessity covered no matter what. Obviously the everyday routine makes it harder to find these moments, but when you do find them, they can be lots of fun since they let you re-discover who your kids are and you get to know them even better.
Since this year my oldest daughter is turning ten, my husband and I decided to take just her on a trip. And I can tell you that it was an amazing experience! Yo Mariana feel that this is a magical age to travel with them. At ten, kids are sufficiently grown up to keep up with an adult trip which involves - long walks, diners at elegant restaurants, staying up late... etc. But at the same time they can still be easily amazed and have an extraordinary innocence.
Rediscovering my daughter during this trip was similar to having an Art coffee-table book in your living room. You see it every day, you know it's there, you know you love it and that it's an invaluable treasure. But routine has covered it with dust. Suddenly you take it in your hands, you dust it, go through its pages and suddenly you remember why you loved it so much. Its brilliant and colorful cover captivates you all over again and you are just amazed by it. You sit down to enjoy its pages, finish it, and leave it again in its place while you go back to your activities trying to figure out when will you have time to enjoy it like that again.
While "dusting" my daughter during this trip, I discovered that she is living an incredible phase in her life, one in which she can dine at a fancy restaurant and have an adult conversation, but at the same time, one in which she still loves sleeping with the bunny blankie she's been sleeping with since she was born. I discovered a funny and emotional girl, who is experimenting complex friendships, tougher scholar responsibilities while at the same time enjoys being just a kid who gets excited when entering a toy store. I'm really proud of her and I want to truly enjoy this amazing show of watching her grow up as a spectator sitting in the first row.
My plan is to have a special trip like this with every one of my kids. I know it will be a completely different trip with each of them and I can't wait to enjoy and discover them in the same amazing way as I did it in this occasion. Meanwhile I'll try to find these special moments with them that really fill my soul.
I'm sure that through their teenage years, maybe this "need" won't be as apparent, as we witness how our kids become self-sufficient "adults", but anyhow, I will still offer them that precious time all my life. Because it's incredible that while writing these lines, I immediately started thinking about my mom and even today, when I'm almost 40-years-old, I openly confess that I still long that time alone with her. So we can talk without rushing, with no siblings, cousins, aunts or grandkids around, not even my kids! Just the two of us having a conversation and enjoying her complete and absolute attention.
I dedicate this post with lots of love to my kids and my mom, may we always have these special one-on-one moments all of our lives.
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