Bringing home a baby always means a major shift in the family dynamics, especially for the members of the household who are experiencing this upheaval for the first time. With baby No. 1, mom and dad experience a hefty lifestyle adjustment. Then comes baby No. 2, who overturns baby No. 1’s world, but isn’t quite as shocking to mom and dad.
Now that I’m expecting baby No. 4, I suspect my baby No. 3 will encounter the rudest awakening. Lately, I’ve been pondering what this new baby will mean to each of my children …
Charlotte is Mom, Jr. at our house. We also call her “mom of the backseat” because she helps to maintain order from the back row of our eight-passenger van when I’m busy driving. She is independent and nurturing toward the younger kids (well, sometimes)—she will be a great assistant when I need someone to change baby’s wet diaper or cuddle him while I’m making dinner.
Out of the three kids, Charlotte is the only one old enough to remember (at least vaguely) the last time we brought home a baby. Graham arrived on her sixth birthday. While Char is disappointed that she didn’t get a baby sister, she will love this little guy and help to mother him as long as he doesn’t interfere with her other plans.
Finn is my best helper and the sweetest soul in the world. I can see him feeling protective toward our new baby, just as he can be protective over me. He likes to see things done right, so I imagine he might be the guy to make sure hand washing is taking place when visitors come around. He may also offer excellent policing between Graham and the baby if Graham ever gets too rough.
Finn is gentle, but he’s not extremely interested in babies or toddlers. Just today, I was watching my neighbor’s 2- and 4-year-olds; Graham and Charlotte were interested, but Finn asked if he could take off to play catch with a friend. I’ll have to make sure he doesn’t withdraw or feel ignored after the baby comes because he might not speak up about it.
Graham is the baby of our family in too many ways. Although he’s old enough to do many things on his own, he still asks mom to carry him and put on his shoes. Watching him on the soccer field this season, it’s obvious that he doesn’t see himself as very accountable or maybe even very capable. Charlotte has been getting after me recently for being too easy on him—she thinks I should ask more of him, so he can rise to the occasion!
Being bumped from the baby position he’s held for over four years will undoubtedly change Graham’s self-image. I won’t physically be able to hold him or put on his shoes as much as I do now, so he’ll have to make do for himself more often. We could experience some tantrums in the beginning—hopefully, my husband and my mom will be able to wean him from the attention he’s used to so he can acclimate to his new normal.
Graham will also love the baby—he already kisses my belly all the time—but we’ll have to keep a close eye to make sure he’s soft. I still have vivid memories of how scary-rough Finn could sometimes be with baby Graham (of course, he was only 2, so he understood less).
When Graham arrived, I bought small “big brother” and “big sister” gifts for my other two and presented them when they came to the hospital. That was a very positive experience—the gifts expressed that this was a happy occasion for all of us. I definitely want to repeat that this time. The day is still all about the baby, but the big sibs deserve to be remembered and congratulated, too!