Since Mim's joined our family, the two most frequent questions I get asked have been: (1) How's Mim? and (2) How's Mac handling things? My answer has usually been the same: (1) Great! and (2) Not so great.
As with any major life change, this is taking a bit of time for us all to adjust. However, toddlers are notorious for not handling change well, whether that's a big change to family dynamics or a little change like his high chair not being in the exact right spot in the kitchen. Any change can lead to unexpected tantrums, outbursts and fits. Oh, this is a tough age. And really, I do think that's what the biggest problem is - the mere fact that Mac is TWO and that's a very difficult time for kids as they're trying to assert their independence and test all the limits. For a 2 year old, I think he's handling the situation remarkably well and doing all the things a normal (wild and active) two year old would do. If we'd had Mim 6 months ago or 6 months from now, I think Mac would probably be handing the situation much differently, but it is what it is. They're not called the terrible twos for nothing. (Not to say that he's terrible - he's actually incredibly wonderful - it's just a tough age.)
For the most part, Mac's not very interested in his little sister. And I think that's a good thing. Maybe because he's a boy and doesn't seem to have that "nurturing" quality that little girls have at this age, but he doesn't really want much to do with Mim. He's not begging to hold her, which could lead to him dropping her. He's not trying to feed her french fries or play dough. He's not interested in touching her with his dirty germy hands. In my opinion, these are all good things as he's probably the biggest threat to her safety right now. We've slowly been trying to encourage safe interactions with her, but we're definitely not pressuring him to be super involved. We're giving him time and space for him to come to terms with her on his own. I think that's the right move. He's so wild and independent, there's really no forcing him to do anything he doesn't want to. We certainly don't want him to resent her or see her as a threat, so we're letting him keep his distance, if that's what he's comfortable with. I'm sure he'll come around soon, once she's a little more interactive and love her as much as we do. But for now, we're fine with letting him think that babies are really boring and just leaving her alone.
I think the hardest part for Mac has been having to share his parents with Mim. Even though he's getting more use to sharing me with Mim, he's still not ok with sharing his daddy with her. When Ryan gets home from work, it's Daddy-Mac time and if Ryan even looks in Mim's direction, our little tyrant is not ok with it. "DADDY NO HOLD MIM!!" gets shouted many many times a night, which is also very hard on Ryan. He's also being pulled in two directions and it's very emotional for us all. We definitely don't want Mim to feel abandoned while we put her in the bouncy seat to tend to him. And we don't want him to feel like we'd rather hold the baby than play with him. We're trying to get Mac use to the idea of sharing his parents with the baby, but it's going to take some time. We slowly take turns holding her around him, but sometimes he still gets very upset. It's a huge adjustment for him and I can't say I blame him for being confused and jealous. But every day seems to be getting a little bit easier. It's better now than it was a few weeks ago, so at least we're moving in the right direction. It may take months, but he'll come around.
Ryan is also limited in what he can do with Mim. Right now we are implementing a divide and conquer strategy with the kids, not by choice, but by default. They both require so much attention and energy, it's very hard to get anything else done or even all be together. We love spending time with them individually, but I'm looking forward to the day that they can play with each other or we can all hang out together as a family without the jealousy. Things feel so divided right now. I love all the Mim time I get, but I miss my Mac time and time with my husband. I know it's a phase and it will pass quickly, but it does feel isolating and lonely at times.
But of course not everything is hard. It's easy to love these two amazing kids and I'm falling in love with my husband all over again as I watch him with them. Mim is the sweetest thing ever and Mac has turned into such a funny, smart and ornery kid. I love watching as both of their personalities continue to shine. They change so much daily that I find myself just staring at them, trying to memorize every little detail because I know just how quickly it all changes. Maternity leave has been such a blessing. Even though I never feel like I have the time (or energy) that I'd like, I love getting to spend so much time with these two. The days and nights feel so long while you're in them, but the weeks are just flying by and I'm not ready to move past this amazing stage. As much as I want to move past this tough time, I also want to stay here forever. Such conflicting emotions.
So for now, that's where we are. Still adjusting. Still working on things. Still trying to figure out how to be a family of four. Eventually we'll get there. And in the meantime, we just have to try to enjoy the ride, no matter how bumpy it may be. Thankfully the views are fantastic and the company is top notch. What a fantastic journey this has already been. I can't wait to see where we're going next!
Anyone else having (or had) trouble with the transition?
Any advice for helping toddlers deal with a new sibling? I'm all ears!