Splitting Heirs

May 3, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Posted in Lollipop | 35 Comments
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When the e-mail from Lollipop’s school popped up, my first thought was: “Tuition is due. Tell everyone in the house.” My institutional memory, my monthly to-do list, the routine I keep flowing, will more than likely be disrupted this month.

Bun will be here. I will be busy. And tuition? Will still be due.

But when I read the message, it wasn’t the usual monthly reminders. There’s going to be a breakfast on Thursday. To celebrate Mother’s Day.

To Be or Not To Be
I want to be there. And I don’t want to be there.

I want to accompany my Lollipop to our first mother-daughter event. She’ll probably wear her Cinderella dress or maybe the Sleeping Beauty one. The light-up sneakers that look like gigantic coffee mugs on her lithe little legs. Maybe a headband. She’ll carefully sip water from her glass cup and tell me how she’s practicing so, one day, she won’t spill anymore. She’ll show me the rabbits, the butterfly garden, and her favorite of the farm felines, the one she calls “Puff Cat.”

Part of me longs for this. But another part? Wants to be in the hospital, in labor, in the throes of newborn-ness. Part of me wants to be meeting Bun. Part of me wants to Not. Be. Pregnant.

Split Decision
Already, it feels like I’m splitting heirs.

I’m having to make an impossible choice. Between one child and another, between who gets my attention and who has to wait. Granted, this time the choice will be made for me. Either Bun will be here by Thursday, or he won’t. I will be able to go to the breakfast, or I won’t.

But how do I explain this to my daughter? How do I explain that this first big moment might be eclipsed by another first big moment?

Already, I can tell that she knows. Life ā€” her life ā€” is changing. And she’s not sure what to do about it.

Split Personality
One moment, she cuddles up next to me to read issue after issue of her favorite magazine. Then she chews up carrots and spits them out at the dinner table.

She slips in bed beside me for a few silent snuggles as the sun comes up. Then she wails on the cat and tosses footballs at the dogs.

She helps unload the dishwasher and put away the laundry. Then she flings herself to the ground and screams at the very suggestion that she share her tricycle.

She understands what’s coming. And she doesn’t. She is herself. And she is not herself.

The I of the Storm
I wonder, is it because I am not myself?

I am tired. I still hurt. My patience wears easily. I am desperate to give birth.

I can’t hold her. I can’t bathe her. I can’t dig in the sandbox or bend down to draw hopscotch squares on the driveway.

There are so many can’ts, too many wants. For both of us.

I want to believe that it will be better soon, after Bun arrives. But I will still be tired, impatient, sore. Perhaps more.

Equal Shares
And she will still have to share me ā€” with myself and my current physical and emotional limitations but also with a new person who has pressing needs all his own.

I worry there’s not enough of me to go around. I worry about how deeply she feels this. I worry that she’s hurt, that she can’t explain it, that I can’t make it better.

There are so many can’ts. Too many wants. For both of us.

Is mothering always a balancing act? Is there such a thing as balance? What are your “cant’s” and “wants”?

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  1. Always, always a balancing act. You get used to the load you’re carrying and the wire you’re walking on, though.

    Of course, when you start adding yourself back into the act you wind up juggling in addition to balancing, but you also realize how lithe you are.

    You’ll do a GREAT job.

  2. Motherhood is always a balancing act – I think especially when your children are small because all they want is Mommy, and ideally they want Mommy all to themselves, all the time. I only have one child to think about and I feel that way all of the time.

    I think in answer to the question above though all you can do is talk to your daughter, openly and honestly and tell her you would love to be at school Thursday with her, but this one time you might not be able to make it, because her little brother is arriving, but maybe offer to do a special Mommy and daughter breakfast with her on another day if you don’t make it.

  3. She WILL have to share you, but she will also be gaining something wonderful! And even though it won’t feel like it to Lollipop every day, she is getting a pretty fantastic gift!

  4. p.s. – I hope you go to the breakfast, have a fabulous time and go into labor on the way home.

    • Wouldn’t that be ideal?? =>

  5. It’s a freaking tight-rope walk balancing act. I remember being in the hospital at 29 weeks pregnant with the second. The first was home, 3. I was so mad because I didn’t know at this point if I was even gonna be able to continue the pregnancy and here I was away from my little boy. The woman in the next bed was older and so wise. She had 2 kids quite old and had had many miscarriages. Finally she was in the hospital with this last chance pregnancy, trying to get to 36 weeks. She saw how upset I was and she said this is how it’s gonna be now with 2. The child that needs the most at that moment in time is gonna get your attention, and at that moment this unborn baby needed me. Her parents were both Holocaust survivors and she was just so amazaing; I’ve never forgotten her. She really helped me put things in perspective. Of course, it can still be heartbreaking not to be there. When my son had 5th grade graduation/awards ceremony, my youngest had her nursery school graduation, from a speech school she’d been in since she was 2. I didn’t know what to do. My ex went to the nursery school one and taped it, and I went to the 5th grade one. I felt he needed me more. He wound up being cheated out of an award and was so upset so I was happy to be there. But I remember being so very torn. I really wanted to clone myself. Now, my youngest can’t recall that I wasn’t there. I was tempted to lie to her but I didn’t. And you know, she didn’t care. In her head she remembers me there.
    The last days of pregnancies are SO hard; you just want to be DONE already!! I hope you do miss the luncheon so you’re done. But if you don’t, at least you’ll have a fun day, right??
    Hang in there; sorry I blabbed on and on.

    • “The child who needs the most at that moment in time …” Thanks for putting it this way, Maureen. It’s a perspective I hadn’t considered very fully, and it helps ease my mind.

  6. There’s plenty to go around. You WILL figure it out. Just like when Giggles was born.

    Can a grandma or auntie fill in on Sunday, just in case?

    • I suppose Daddy or Pawpaw could go … Would that count or are they disqualified?? =>

  7. I think Lyndsay was right on target up there: I hope you get to go to the breakfast, then go into labor soon after.

    3 kids is hard, I won’t lie. There is never enough of you to go around. But you make it work. The kids learn to adapt. Just give them as much one on one as possible, as well as some me-time (which I need to take my own advice on) and it will work out.

  8. Those last weeks of pregnancy move like sludge. Especially tough, when you already have little ones tugging at you, and you just want to be DONE and see how you do with yet one more thing added to the mix. That combination of “can hardly wait” and the reality of knowing more fatigue is just ahead.

    But also just ahead is that precious new life, and the adjustment that all older siblings make to a new baby. Hang in there! (I love the proposed “plan” for the breakfast followed by labor!)

    • Sludge. Ugh. Yes!

  9. Your post brought tears to my eyes…
    It’s always a juggling act, made every so much more difficult when the kids feed off of your emotions. Because that, at least for us, has so much to do with how our days go.
    When I was pregnant w/ Paige someone told me that life is always easier with a newborn than when you’re pregnant. Which sounded crazy to me, but now I think it’s true. The baby naps, you’ll have time for the others. You’ll have the space where your belly once laid to hug and lean over and give baths and play in the sand box, even if the baby is on your hip or on your lap.
    (there’s something about your space here that makes me ramble, I apologize!!) šŸ™‚
    Thinking of you…

  10. This time is so short in the bigger scheme of things. In a few years time, you will barely remember the discomfort and angst. Take comfort that precious Bun will be here SOON.

  11. Balance is an illusion, but love will carry you through.
    Big Hugs to you on the eve of your next chapter.

  12. I feel like this so often with just two. They fight each other for my attention, but they also enjoy each others company so much — the greatest gift we gave each of them was a sibling.

    I like the idea above of having a mother-daughter make-up breakfast if you miss the event at school. Sending labor vibes your way…

  13. This is so thoughtful and clever. And impressive, really, to already be aware and perceptive about “splitting heirs.” (Did I mention clever?) I think it’s fundamentally sweet and touching, to be eager to hold your new baby AND eager to be able to bend over 90 degrees again so you can play in the sandbox with your first.

  14. Since I am an only child, and only have one now myself, I can offer no words of wisdom other than to send good wishes your way. I find it difficult to sometimes to meet the demands of my one child, I can hardly imagine two, let alone three. But somehow you make being a mom of two sound so easy, so effortless. So wonderful. And I’m sure, once you get back into the rhythm of your home, albeit with a new addition, you will figure it all out, and everything will fall beautifully in place for your family of five.

    • Five. Holy smokes, there it is in print (screen?): We will be five. And soon. Oh, boy, what have I gotten myself into?? =>

  15. Stacia, you’re amazing! “Splitting Heirs!” So funny! While there’s only one mom to go around, there is actually a huge magnitude of love to go around.

    I never actually made it to my last few weeks of pregnancy with either baby but I do remember the lethargy and ungainliness. And remember, Lolipop will also be very happy to meet Bun!

    • You’re right, she will. I asked her to help put away some of her laundry today and she set aside a few of her favorites on her bed and said, “These are my special things for Bun, because he will want to wear them when he gets here.”

      I teared up, I admit.

  16. I’m remember feeling exactly the same in the weeks leading up to the birth of my second son. I was so scared, not so much by how his birth would change me (I’d been there before) but at how it would change my relationship with my oldest, how he would feel. I tossed and turned with it. And like you I felt so tired at the end that I felt like I wasn’t even making the best of the time we had left just the two of us. It was a real struggle. But then he was born, and they met, and we became a family of four and I cannot stress enough how easy (and yet hard) it was. The managing of multiple children was overwhelming for certain, but the fit of that little baby into our lives was perfect. I couldn’t have expected any better really.

    All this to say, I know just how you are feeling and I hope it helps to know that it’s normal (as many of your commenters have said), and that it’s also normal to just want to get on with it. Thinking of you lots!

  17. Always and forever a balancing act. And somehow it works out. Good luck – either way it goes on Thursday, you win.

  18. Ohmigosh, you just described Kate. She wants to be on me almost all the time, except when she wants to push me away and scream at me. I’m only 8 weeks along, and I can still lift her and play with her (although the nausea and fatigue are wiping me out). We are already torn. I thank goodness every day for my (usually) self-sufficient 5-year-old, and I tell myself it will all be okay. Between their daddy and me, we will make sure they get what they need, and all of the love we have (which is infinite).

  19. I used to worry about that ALL the time when I was pregnant. How am I going to have time for both/all of them??? Will they feel left out or mad or ??? It was never as bad as I imagined. In fact, each time the older brother/s loved the new little baby and were excited about him. True, I still sometimes feel guilty that they don’t get enough individual attention, but every time I try to give it to them, they want to know why their brother can’t come too. You will all do just fine. You will figure out a new routine and so will Lollipop! šŸ™‚ And it will be okay.

  20. I know you are ready to have this baby and want to be there for your daughter. Motherhood is a balancing act, often being torn between being at different places for different children at the same time. It’s not easy, but all will work out. Blessings and hugs to you.

  21. I see it now: the title of your book, Splitting Heirs. Brilliant, Stacia!

    I’ve been thinking so much about this idea lately as we celebrated Tiny Baby’s 1st birthday and I reflected on the various ways I’ve had to behave differently as a mom now that I have two instead of one. But as one of three myself, I don’t have a single memory of feeling shorted by my parents. What I do remember are lots of family trips, games with my brothers, and wacky traditions. I imagine my parents did plenty of worrying and planning, but, from the kids’ perspective, we didn’t know anything else and so it just worked.

    Here’s another vote for a wonderful Mother’s Day breakfast with Lollipop on Thursday followed by a trip to the hospital to become a mother of three. Although there would be some poetry, wouldn’t there, if Bun were born on Mother’s Day itself? Big Boy was born on Labor Day, so I know all about birthday poetry. šŸ™‚

    • Oh, my book! Right! One day … =>

      And meeting him on Mother’s Day? Would indeed be wonderful poetry. Of course, I’d settle for Cinco de Mayo and have a nice, tall margarita to celebrate afterward!

  22. Wow. Such a great post. It really is hard, isn’t it? I guess that is the good thing about just having one. Wishing you all the best with your delivery!

  23. I always admire mothers of multiple children. I only have one and so, too, feel I don’t have words of wisdom to offer here. Except that your children will learn good things about “sharing” Mommy and also building relationships with siblings.

    It seems that motherhood is all about balance though – whether it is attention among children, work vs. kids, self vs. kids, etc. I struggle with the latter two. And oh yeah – balance between being a wife and being a mother! But how quickly I leave hubby at the bottom of the list…

  24. The sharing is so hard, and yet it happens, and it is about being a family and you will all work through it and settle into their places. Balance, however, comes and goes with the day…and the wind šŸ™‚

  25. I’m only a month in to motherhood to three and am definitely not an expert. What I’m trying to do is just be as present for and attentive to each child as I can. If I have a hands free (baby free) window and someone wants to play cars, read books, or whatever, I’m trying to just do it, even when I am tempted to say, “Just a minute, I need to [empty the dishwasher, change the laundry, pay this bill, check my email, etc.] first.”

    It’s tough, but I figure as long as my kids know I love them, everything will work out.

  26. I smiled while reading this. I was SO worried that Miss D. would feel diminished when Miss M. arrived. I worried that she’d hate me, hate the baby, hate having to play second-fiddle for a while.

    Turns out, she was made of much stronger, gentler, kinder stuff than I gave her credit for. Her heart (and mine) simply opened up and made a little extra room.

    You are going to be brilliant. Honest.

  27. Welcome to the delicate balancing act that is motherhood! You WILL muddle through and you WILL be fine! And so will your precious babies!

  28. It’s Thursday morning. I hope you get to go – that this can’t and want don’t collide. It’s always a balancing act. But I think you seem to walk that tightrope with grace. Hoping for a day that has all you want!


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