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The Baby of the Family

Ever since Aerin got sick last week, she has been super SUPER clingy to me. Before her illness, she was a pretty independent little girl. Now she needs to be held all the time — only by me, no less, and starts screaming her head off if she can’t see me.

Even her two favorite people after me, her halmeh (my mother) and yeye (J’s father) have been having trouble calming her down.

I know that this is probably just a phase. It might even be a combination of several factors, such as teething or reaching a new milestone (she has been cruising for a while and we’re expecting her to start walking any day now). But you can’t deny that it has been exhausting for me and J.

Confession time: Aerin has NEVER slept through the night. The longest stretch she has gone was the 7-8 hour periods when she was between the ages of 2-3 months.

And now, at just over 1 year old, she still wakes up twice a night.

At this age, Claire was sleeping 10-12 hours straight! And we know from talking with friends and doing the research that this is the norm for 1-year-olds.

Aerin double-fisting one of her favorite snacks, the Korean 뻥튀기 (bbungttigi)

We always tell people that we are hesitant to sleep-train Aerin (aside from the nap-training when she was about 4 months old) because of Claire, and because Aerin’s cries are quite painful to hear. I should get a recording of it one day — she SCREAMS and SHRIEKS in such a way that one cannot help but wonder if she were being tortured. And everyone agrees that her cries are a lot louder than Claire’s ever was.

But I know that there exists another reason I have been putting off sleep-training, and that is because she is the baby of the family.

I have always sworn that I will treat my children equally and without bias. But as they grow older, I can’t help but find myself babying Aerin a little.

It’s not too bad. (At least, I hope it’s not!) I do not rush to her aid for every little thing, and I do say no to her when I feel it’s warranted. And I certainly do not give her any preferential treatment over Claire.

But I have found that I am a bit more physically affectionate with her (perhaps because Claire is much more mobile and independent now?), and I seem to be in no rush for her to grow up.

Do I still hate the baby years? Yes. But you can still savor the moments, can’t you?

Like I said, this all seems to stem down from the fact that she is the youngest. After all, is it not a common occurrence for mothers to baby their youngest children?

I can’t help but think back to earlier this summer when my younger sister got engaged. I remember my mother and I talking about it, and both of us exclaiming, “I can’t believe she’s going to get married! She’s still so young!”

Only then did we realize that she will be 30 when she gets married next summer, and that I was 27 years of age when I got married.

I also believe her to be a more mature, practical, and responsible person than I was at her age.

It’s painfully obvious that my mother and I still think of her as a 16-year-old girl solely due to the fact that she’s the baby of the family.

Do you guys think babying the youngest child does them harm? I’d like to believe that it doesn’t cause much damage — just take a look at my sister, in addition to all my accomplished, well-adjusted friends who are the babies of their families!

I do, however, know that I shouldn’t take it too far, and that I should always be cautious of not giving Aerin any special treatment.

(Although I do believe my sister got some special treatment in the way that my parents were MUCH more relaxed and lenient with her! I always say that she owes me for “breaking them in.”)

As for Aerin’s nighttime sleep? We have decided that we will start sleep-training soon.

Wish us luck!