Big Brother Adjustments

Caden is six weeks old. For me, the time has flown despite the light at the end of the sleepless tunnel feeling like it’s constantly moving further away from us. And lately, I find myself wishing I could crawl inside Rylan’s head and experience the upheaval through his eyes.

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While we’re primarily just tired as the parents, Rylan is a ball of gigantic emotions, reaching every edge of the newly appointed big brother spectrum. Let’s first focus on the positive. Rylan is excelling in his preschool class at daycare and the teachers shared last week that they have noticed little to no regression in his behavior. In fact, he is having great days overall and has turned into a very dependable helper. We were told that he is the first to help remind others of the classroom rules and takes the rules to heart for himself. In the classroom he is curious, goofy and endlessly imaginative. He thrives when being challenged and his little friends enjoy following his lead. All of these recent updates from his teacher made my heart swell with immense pride.

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At home, staying focused on the positive for now, he takes a genuine interest in Caden throughout the day. Every morning Ry asks to do tummy time with the baby before heading off to daycare, and gets very upset if we put Caden down to sleep without letting him give the baby a hug and kiss. Ry brings Caden toys and urges us to go check on him right away if he’s crying. Ry loves when I pick him up from daycare so he can show everyone “his baby” and talks about how he’ll visit Caden in the infant room when they are both in the same center.

These sweet, golden moments and gestures are keeping us sane.

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But you know me. I try to be as brutally honest as I can because otherwise, us moms are left looking over our shoulders wondering what we’re doing wrong. Why is their baby sleeping through the night, or their toddler adjusting so much better to the change than ours?

At home for us (me and Mike), Ry pretty much has one way of communicating…whining. His whining, which began to rear its ugly head again this fall during our trip to New York, is worse than it has ever been. I know he is whining for attention and even worse, because it gets a rise out of us. And it isn’t always very pretty.

We’re exhausted and it’s extremely hard not to get riled up in this stage of things. He whines for what he wants, he whines when he gets what he wants because then he wants something different. He whines about trying new things. He whines when we don’t offer to let him try something new or on his own. We’re literally at the edge and I’ve ended up in tears many times because, at the core of it all, I feel awful.

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Ry has the sweetest and most sensitive soul. This afternoon, after a particularly challenging lunch that involved him not listening or cooperating with anything I asked him to do, he gave me a hug and repeated several times, “I’m sorry mom. I am sorry for everything.” My heart broke.

Right now Ry’s world has shifted and we’re stumbling – just like all parents do – with how to give him what he needs without completely caving. Figuring out how to parent through the whining and regression at home, on little sleep, is 10 times more challenging than Caden’s nap and breastfeeding battles. Talk about perspective.

I know this is a phase, for all of us. Mike and I will once again get a full night of sleep. We will remember how to take a deep breath, and model patience and empathy. We’ll remind one another that Rylan is 3, not 13.

We’ll ask for help, sometimes with a side of wine (notice that is wine without the ‘h’).

We’ll forgive our mistakes and as a family, celebrate the big wins.

A big thanks to Sarah Hill Photography for capturing the spirit of our family during our newborn session.

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