To the moms of multiples, big hugs from me! I know you are struggling to let your kids know that “the color of the spoon doesn’t matter” every time you serve a meal.
You have lost count of how you find yourself saying, “Hey, be nice to your sister/brother.”
While struggling to fight for your own space, you are required to get them away from each other’s space…
Well! For the first part of this quarantine, my boys (who are a 5-year-old and an almost 2-year-old) were the sweetest brothers. I sure was grateful that they were able to spend more time together, as the 5-year-old would soon be off to school on a full-time basis. But as the lockdown continued, the sweetness kept vanishing into thin air.
Now all I see and hear is me [allegedly] “not being fair.”
The last week was extremely hard on every one of us. I was so done being a mediator. I was pushed to a point where I found myself just watching them as they fought and, eventually, cried out of frustration. And suddenly, I realized I really had no idea what fair meant anymore.
One day recently before bedtime as the boys were bathed by their dad, I was waiting quietly for them in their room with their pajamas. Jivin, the 5-year-old, was the first to come in. I volunteered to help him get dressed which made him beam at me with a huge smile.
“Amma,” he looked down at me, “I’m so happy that you are dressing me after a long time.”
Confused, I replied, “I dress you up a lot of the times, Jivin.”
“NO Amma, every day after the bath, Nevin gets out first and you dress him, while I dress up myself,” he adamantly responded.
Oh, wow! That comment hit me a bit and I realized he notices really small stuff. I smiled and hugged him, letting a small amount of guilt creep inside me.
Jivin then continued, “Amma, dress me up fast! If Nevin comes in now, he will not let you dress me.”
I was speechless and the guilt was everywhere. That moment I realized, this was his way of saying, “You’re not being fair.”
When did I stop being fair? I have always thought I related to Jivin as we both are firstborn, highly sensitive kids. I have tried to always make sure he never feels left out and alone, especially after the new addition in our family a few years ago.
That evening after bath time, I found myself wondering where could I have gone wrong?
I was looking for reasons to blame on the lockdown… the terrible twos of our younger one… anything…
But the reality is that sometimes we moms, somewhere down the road, forget our firstborns are still kids. They have been the “only kid” for a long time and sharing their parents with the new baby will be hard on kids at any age. Suddenly there is this another kid who has to share their parents right from the start. Sometimes, they might be totally fine for the first year or two, but then they start to understand the permanency of the change in their family and the problems can start.
Nevin, my 21-month-old who was mostly independent right from the start, has started to make a clingy bond with me. Suddenly not letting his older brother anywhere near me was the start of everything.
For a long time, every time I changed Nevin’s diaper, he would be quick enough to take the dirty one to the trash on his own. That gradually changed. The other day when I asked him to trash his old diaper, he denied being able to do it. He wanted me to do it. But when I turned to his brother seeking his help, Nevin came rushing to help me. What was that? He did not want to help me a second ago. All of a sudden he changed his mind simply to keep his brother from getting a turn to help me. Yet another way of one of my children saying, “It’s not fair!”
I initially thought, Wow! That is a smart way to get things done!… But then I realized this only kindles the rivalry more between my sons. The struggle to give them their own space while keeping our family unity in place is so hard.
The thought has been spinning around in my mind: What if siblings automatically rate their mothers on fairness? Keeping tabs and tallies?
Honesty, I believe most moms would fail as it is impossible to make family life perfectly fair and even, especially considering the varying needs of kids. And also, considering a well adjusted 31-year-old grown-up woman (me) still thinks her parents favor her sibling in most cases, I suppose this is simply an age old aspect to motherhood. That doesn’t mean they love her any less.
So for now, not being a fair enough mom is good enough for me as long as they are both equally loved and valued. No problems there!