Bringing Home Baby (#2) is a series of guest posts focusing on life after baby #2 comes home. If you want to contribute please contact me – I’m finding the stories fascinating plus it gives me a break while we adjust to life with our own baby #2 born August 18th.
One of my favourite writers is Ellen Gilchrist. She is one of those larger than life people one meets on rare occasions. She is both southern lady and brawling sexy babe. Reading her work is not so much a discovery of a like-mind, but wanting to be like her, surgeon for she shows her readers how life is messy and it is rightly so.
In her book, Falling Through Space, she recounts an episode when her two grandchildren come to visit. The older boy is four and his sister is just one. She describes the agony her grandson is suffering,
“For a whole year Marshall has put up with this baby hanging on his mother and sucking on her breasts and sleeping in her arms. He has put up with her walking into his room and picking up his toys and getting all the attention.”
She goes on to describe her dilemma of wanting to be impartial observer in the sibling jealousy, but finding herself on her grandson Marshall’s side. She cannot stand another moment of witnessing how his life has become a petty battle of defending his territories and toys against the unrelenting curiosity of his younger sister who follows him every step of the way.
Her solution is to take the grandson to the back garden build up a tent and go on an adventure with him.
“A psychiatrist friend suggests the best thing to do is to show him the world is big and full of more exciting things than his mother’s breasts. I agree. We’re going to build telephones from the tent to the shed and start some swimming lessons and as soon as he gets home this afternoon I am going to call my older brother and apologize to him for being alive.”
When I read this journal entry of Ms. Gilchrist I knew that this is essentially the task of any mother, father, uncle, grandmother… to show the older sibling that the world is bigger. The second child never has a universe where there is only mommy, day, and night. A first child does.
So, when I came home with our daughter from the hospital, I promised myself that I would make sure that either me or someone else would set out on a journey with our son; one that showed him marvels he had never known existed.
Your dear daughter’s life is going to change. I don’t believe there is any way to help her prepare for this change. I don’t believe in covering it all with a sugar coating, or being too analytical, or making too many excuses for bad behaviour. Life is messy and it is rightly so. If I was to give any advice to you and Mister, build a fort or pirate ship or jungle abode in your back garden and spend some time with her discovering the big beautiful world that is out there.
“Where are you from?” is a tough questions form me to answer. Is it where I was born (Caracas), where I was raised, (Venezuela, Grenada, Paulo Alto (CA), Montreal (PQ)), what citizenship I have (Canadian), where my heart lies (Grenada), where I’ve lived the longest as a child (Montreal), where I have lived the longest as an adult (Germany), where my two children (20 & 16) were born and have lived their whole lives (Germany)? The only answer is the here-and-now, and where I am today, is in a small corner of the blogsphere looking over at Melanie and her family and wishing them much love, health, wealth and happiness.