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When I asked Caroline about her feelings, and if she had any worries about the baby in Mama’s belly, my 2.5 year old was able to clearly identify and express her feelings to me about the situation. Not only that, without prompting, she told me all of the ways she’d address the issues when the baby arrived. You can read all about her feelings here.
I’d asked her because she seemed to be crying and whining and pretending to be “baby” a lot more than usual lately. She’d been refusing to listen or try things on her own. And the last two weeks, since I told her about the baby, have been a spiral of negativity around here. More and more acting out, more disciplining the way I don’t want to, more and more we were both upset, and we were far from our usual emotional states.
I then realized something- I had asked my 2.5 year old how she felt about the baby growing in Mama’s belly, but I failed to ask myself.
I suddenly realized that the spiral of negativity around here was due to me- it was all my fault.
Let me first state that I am so thrilled to be pregnant. I always knew I wanted two children, and I am just ecstatic to see Caroline as a big sister. I also felt a huge stress lift off of my shoulders when we got pregnant. I had been starting to think back to our fertility journey with Caroline, and just simply dreading it. So, when we found out I was pregnant, and we weren’t going to have to go through the treatments we’d done before, I was beyond happy. Almost immediately upon finding out the news, however, I started worrying. I was totally stressed all of the sudden and I simply hadn’t taken the time to identify those emotions, much less accept them and think through them.
The one stress that I knew immediately, was about Caroline and the baby having to share a room. Literally the same night we found out the news, my husband and I started trying to figure out what on earth we were going to do with our living situation. We aren’t in a position to buy a new house right now, and we only have two bedrooms. We have a basement that serves as an extra room for visitors, but it simply doesn’t make sense to use that space (two floors away from our room) as a space for the baby or for Caroline. As a mom that prioritizes sleep through the use of Babywise techniques, I got pretty stressed about the room sharing situation. The reality, is that all will work out fine in the end, and room sharing is just something we have to figure out and deal with. It is not ideal, but it is manageable.
While I knew I was stressed about our children sharing a room, I didn’t realize my other stressors until I really sat down and focused on my feelings. Here’s what I realized:
– I am really feeling sad that my time with only Caroline is coming to a close. I feel like I am on a countdown, and I cry when I think about it. It’s easy to take for granted, but we get such special time together right now, and that is soon to be interrupted by a crying baby that needs my attention more than she does. I know that life is going to change for the better, and we will all be filled with more love and joy than we ever imagined, but I’m still sad about this chapter coming to a close.
– I also subconsciously got insanely stressed about making sure Caroline was listening well, and doing things on her own. I didn’t realize it until another mom mentioned it while brainstorming some solutions with me on Caroline’s behavior. She mentioned she’d gone through a phase of “time to get your act together” with her toddler, once she’d realized she had another little one on the way. The minute she said that, I realized I was doing the same thing. I hadn’t even realized it, but I was being way harder on Caroline than I normally am, and very much in a focus straight ahead type mentality to get her “ready” for the baby. It was completely unfair of me.
As a result of all of this, I was in a bad mood and I felt very off from my usual self. I was snapping at Caroline, I was being way too hard on her with super high expectations, and the result was more and more acting out on her part, and more and more frustration on my part. As soon as I realized this, I backed off immediately, and almost felt a sense of calmness. Things got back to normal very quickly.
Something else I’ve realized with Caroline, is that there is a disconnect at times between her actual age and the way she acts. Caroline is very mature, very good at expressing herself, very well behaved, very polite, very thoughtful and conscious of others, and very good at identifying her emotions and dealing with them. As a result, I think I often treat her as though she’s older than she is. So, when she decides to act her age emotionally, I think I am surprised and hold her to too high of a standard at times. So, something I need to work on is keeping her actual age in mind, and not reacting to her just based on the way she typically acts and handles situations. After all, she is just 2.5 years old!
Caroline listens extremely well for a 2.5 year old. When she gets upset, she has the ability to identify her feelings, and ask for help calming down. She’s pretty incredible. Now that I finally figured out my emotions, we are back to our usual selves around here and operating under normal circumstances. We are back to our focus on positive behavior, and the negative behavior is few and far between. It’s amazing how the whole family feeds off of one another’s emotional states and can really spiral out of control quickly! I am so glad that I have such a supportive family that bounces back so easily. I am also so thankful to all of you that talked through things with me. I finally found my way, owned up to my own emotions, and am feeling back to myself again. So, thank you.
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