I gave birth to my second baby thirteen years and four months after giving birth to my first. Needless to say, for the child that will always be my baby boy, this was going to be a big adjustment.
A lot of speculation occurred around what our son thought life would be like with a new sibling, a little sister so much younger than himself. Our son’s first bit of research started when my husband and I announced we were going to try to have another child (long before we were successful). He was about ten then and started polling his friends with little siblings. His conclusion? That all the (regulatory) attention would be off of him (yay!), and we would be so busy with the new one, that he could fly under the radar and essentially play video games all day long and eat cheetoes for dinner. With that in mind, he gave us his blessing.
That attitude made it through the end of his fifth grade year, and into the summer, but once the holiday season came around, he discovered a new downside to siblings: half the Christmas presents. Oh, oh, no. No, never mind. Sharing? What? Why would I want to do that? This child had never had to share anything in his life (outside of school): not his parents’ attention, his toys, his food, clothes, his space in the car, on the couch, or at the dinner table. The world was his world and he did not want it to end. Of course not. Who would? The little brother/sister idea became tainted. He asserted that he did not want a little sibling after all. No thank you.
My husband and I listened with a smile and tried not to laugh at some of the horror stories he told. A friend’s little brother who ruins his gaming device by shoving a cookie into the disk hole (the terror!). Another little brother who screams ‘woe is me’ at the top of his lungs every time he is in time-out – which is funny at first, but always ends up giving everyone a headache.
By the time I was pregnant with our daughter, K was 12 and had a good sense of humor. We joked about the idea of a baby’s presents eating into his Christmas loot – eyes rolling. My husband and I laughed to ourselves and thought, ‘oh, how the world will change for you, our son.’
It couldn’t have happened soon enough. No matter how much we exposed our only-child to others, put him in situations where he had to think of others’ needs and share, no matter how many cousins and neighbors and sleepovers he had – nothing can slap that selfish omni-importance out of a person like the ever-constant presence of an irritating, needy sibling. I was looking forward to it with the glee of a mom who looks forward to any ‘hardship’ she knows will make her child stronger, evil laugh aside.
While I knew that having a sibling would be a positive aspect in his life in the long run, I also felt apprehensive about his short-term feelings of love and security. Middle school is rough in any situation, much less entering eighth grade with a new baby sister. I searched the internet for ideas and advice, and found very little. I pocketed the good advice, discovered the term ‘split-mom’, and trudged on.
This blog is my first attempt to (publicly) wade through the parenting of two kids born more than a decade apart. The trials, the growing pains, and the failures. Here we go!
Good luck to all you split-parents out there, and to your (future) expired-only-children!