I can literally feel my heart swell when I look at my 6-month-old daughter. The last of three children I will conceive, chubby Gertrude defines the phrase “laid back baby”. Sure, she still does not sleep through the night, but she is happy and goes down for a nap without whimper or peep.
It is amazing how you can feel the same amount of love for many people. A comparable intensity is there, but the fondness is different because each being requires unique individual needs.
I will admit it. This is the first time I am experiencing this heart throbbing love with an infant. Some might say this is a sad realization, but as a first-time mother, I was scared. I struggled with breastfeeding, was always concerned with my son’s temperature and obsessively worried he was not getting enough sleep at night. When someone touched him, my first thought was,
“When was the last time you washed your hands?”
Looking back, the peaceful throbbing love I experience today did not yet exist. The feeling back then was a protective emotion, one built from fear of the unknown. I held on to my firstborn day by day, fearing that something would happen to him.
Each one of my children has been raised with a different approach:
- I was scared and in a constant state of worry that I would forget to take care of my baby in one way or another
- Love was there, but with new demands and unfamiliar child rearing territory, I was consumed by the unknown
- Baby 1 received constant undivided attention
- Over all emotion: hesitation
Child #2 -
- Less fear, but since I was more distracted by my 2-year-old son’s spirited activity, it was hard to live in the moment of my daughter’s infant stage
- Overall mantra: survive
Child #3 -
- No fear and a confidence that draws peace from my heart. The result – constant heart swelling for baby and an appreciation of each child’s personality and unique strengths.
- Overall goal: make the little moments with each child memorable
I am certain I did not appreciate the infant stage like I do today, and naturally, people ask how life is with three children.
I happily respond about the ease of my new daughter and how I like that she “goes along for the ride”. But the more and more I respond with this answer, I find myself feeling our new addition is being neglected of quality attention and getting the shaft.
Does the third child need to have a chaotic life and just “go with it” because my schedule is so busy? Or, can I make a concerted effort to give her the peaceful surroundings the “protective” me created around my first two children.
So, I started planning activities around nap schedules. While the baby is sleeping in the quiet contentment of her crib, I am spending time with my two older children playing games, painting, and digging in the dirt. Once the baby wakes from her nap, my older children are ready to play or read by themselves and I can play with baby.
Once I stopped giving in to the demands of outside activities and started planning activities around my family, life seems happier. I am smiling again and loving every moment of the day instead of getting caught up in stress, schedules, and to-do lists.
And when mama is happy, everybody’s happy.