Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: It's Not Injustice, It's Just Life

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Some days, my sweet two-year-old gets left in the dust, rejected from activities or brushed away from objects that are out of her limited jurisdiction.

Last week, we had such a day.

I didn't mean for Lauren to feel so left out, but the way our errands went, it just couldn't be helped. 

We started on the wrong foot by waking her up early from her nap so we could make Mia's appointment on time.  My big girl is starting ballet lessons (!), and the orientation began right as Lauren's normal nap would have ended, not to mention that the studio is half an hour away.  Waking her up early was the only way we could make it work, but that didn't make it easier.  She was dazed and clingy -- not the best combination for being strapped into a carseat for a tedious drive across two towns.  All for her sister's appointment.

The afternoon that followed had almost nothing to do with Lauren; it was Mia's appointment, Mia's trip to the store for ballet necessities, Mia's new awesome shoes, Mia's compliments from the saleslady....it was Mia's day.  The store was full of untouchables, and each time Lauren got close to a beautifully breakable item, she was whisked away to stand quietly (hah) while Mia's errands were finished. 

I felt slightly better that Lauren didn't seem to notice she wasn't getting her fair share of attention.  She went about business as usual, if more irritably.  But still, it felt like neglect. 

And if I'm being honest, that day wasn't out of the ordinary.  There were more particular reasons to focus on Mia's needs that day, but it seems like EVERY day presents some impasse in what Mia's allowed to do, and what Lauren's not.  What Mia's perfectly capable of playing with, but Lauren's still too crazy to be trusted with.  What Mia understands, and what Lauren doesn't.

It worries me and makes me second guess my decisions: shouldn't I try to provide some equalization between my daughters?  Shouldn't I help Lauren do what her big sister is capable of doing alone?

The answer to that, I've just decided, is no.  Not always.

The hard truth for Lauren, my rambunctious toddler, is that she has to learn to wait.  She has to understand that she doesn't get everything just because Mia does.  If I remember right, Mia didn't get these privileges or opportunities at the ripe old age of 30 months, either.  And if I'm on top of my game, I'll find ways to plan Lauren-friendly activities like I did for her big sister at this age, too.

My baby will be okay with the injustice of not getting to spread her own peanut butter on her own sandwich with a lethal butter knife, if I don't think she's ready.

And I have to be strong enough to trust my own decisions.


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10 comments:

  1. I have a six-year-old and a two-year-old and often worry about my little one being shortchanged because of the needs of his big brother. I didn't have that balancing act when my firstborn was that age. But I think you're right that our children will adapt so long as we're doing our best to help each of them feel special and loved, at the end of the day, they'll be just fine.

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  2. Sarah- this is such sticky ground in the parenting world and it seems even harder when there are three!! It feels sometimes that poor Nick is left out of every activity,
    and he doesn't always understand why. Almost never understands!!

    Good luck!!!

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  3. Again ... can totally relate to this. I have a 5, 4 and 2 year old - each time, I have a duo with me for whatever reason - gymnastics sign up, soccer game, etc. - the younger of the two is often made to stand by and watch. I did not have that with my oldest (who was in third grade when her brother was born - the oldest of 4), and... she had a different type of experience - not better, I'm beginning to realize, just different and it is still all good. I, like you, do notice my 2 year old getting lost in the shuffle sometimes, though.... but... maybe it's just because we notice it more and, in truth, on certain days, the potential exists for any of us to get lost in that crazy family shuffle, right?

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  4. I needed to read this today, but for the complete opposite reason of what you write - I have the same feelings but in relation to how I treat my oldest. I find the youngest takes up so much of my time that sometimes the oldest gets neglected. It's so easy to just get wrapped up in chasing an 18mo, particularly a tantrummy 18mo, that my oldest gets the short shift. I try to tell myself it's the way it has to be, but nonetheless we really want to do our best by both our children don't we?

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  5. How lucky are your little girls - to have a mom who thinks these kind of things through.

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  6. SO true Sarah! I have yet to experience this with my own children, but even as adults we have to learn to deal with the "injustice" of not being able to do everything that other people get to. It's a good lesson to learn at a young age, and lucky for Lauren she's got a mama who will teach it to her in a gentle and kind way!

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  7. It definitely feels like most days one or the other gets more attention... I feel like it evens out at some point. Being a toddler is tough, but I remember it being tough w/ Fynn just as much as it is with/for Paige :)

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  8. I know this feeling of the mommy guilt about one getting more attention/privledges/fawning than the other. And it stinks. But, I think you have the right attitude that sometimes our little ones have to patient. Sometimes it's for their own safety that we delay certain activities.
    Today, I was feeling most guilty about how much we fuss about E's cute, chubby baby cheeks ... but then I thought, you know, we fussed over G's cute, chubby baby cheeks, too. So I told G about that. And it made him smile to realize that just because it's not his time, his turn right now, doesn't mean that it's always been like that or that it always won't be his turn.
    <3

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  9. Oh I know this feeling well. I hear on a daily basis "Why doe He get to do it? But you let him do it?" I calmly remind her he is older.

    She is reaping the benefits now as he is in full day school and she has mommy all to herself. You know what she wants most? Her brother. *sigh*

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  10. I only have one child but I can still relate. My son wants to so everything on his own. At 2.5 years, that's just not possible. It's tough to find the right balance of letting gem learn and explore and try new things, while keeping them out of harms way.

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Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?