Last week, my mother told me something that made me want to lock myself in a dark room and sob like a little girl.
You see, Claire had told her, “엄마는 다정이 안좋아해. 엄마는 효정이만 좋아해.” (“Mommy doesn’t like Claire. Mommy only likes Aerin.”)
Now, I know that kids often say things they don’t necessarily mean. And both J and my sister think that she was probably trying to get extra attention (and gifts!) from my mother. After all, she’s been playing off, and sometimes even taking advantage of people’s emotions since she turned 1!
But I can’t help but think that at least a portion of that statement must be rooted in the truth.
Because Aerin’s hearing is still impaired and she requires extra attention from us. Because we send Claire to preschool while Aerin stays home with me. Because Claire has seen Aerin’s therapist work with her on more than one occasion and I could tell that she wanted to participate too. Because — although I try my best not to — it’s natural to coddle the baby of the family and we tend to be stricter with Claire (because she’s older and hence has the ability to better understand boundaries and consequences).
I imagine that Claire has been feeling more neglected and left out even more so in the past week as Aerin fell ill. And I can confidently say that she will feel worse next week, when Aerin gets her surgery.
My fav shot from Claire’s first school pictures
Isn’t this how it starts? A family pays more attention to a particular child — whether due to an illness or through sheer favoritism — and the other, more neglected child(ren) ends up acting out to get attention? How sometimes, that cry for help arises in the form of destructive behavior or even mental illnesses such as Münchausen syndrome?
Damn, being a mother is tough. I guess all I can do is to give Claire as much extra love and attention as possible, and keep reminding her that I love her and her little sister equally.
Have you tried going on one-on-one dates with Clarie? If J has time to babysit Aerin this weekend, why not take Clarie out of a little mommy and me time? An hour of your time alone is better than nothing.
Once in a while, I’ll take the oldest son (3 years) and we go have dinner by ourselves or we walk to grab bubbles (milk tea with tapioca) and ride the bus back home. The youngest (1 year) is such a handful but I know we’ve been leaving behind on a lot of things we’ve been doing so soon…we’ll need to implement the one-on-one time with him also.
Yep, this is something we both try to do with Claire as often as possible ever since Aerin was born. 🙂
I feel you. I have moments where I keep thinking “Am I a bad mother for ….”
I guess that I can get away with telling K that he’s my favorite son and C that she’s my favorite daughter. I also feel like I’m the opposite right now because I’d rather hang out with K than C because he’s older…..C is definitely in her terrible two’s!
In our case, most others would rather hang out with Claire because she’s easier these days. That is, we can communicate with her, she’s better about following directions, etc. while Aerin is still learning to follow directions *and* has entered her terrible twos. So because others seem to prefer to hang out with Claire, I end up feeling bad for Aerin and thus end up giving her more attention from my end. It’s such a difficult balancing act!
Try not to feel bad! Maybe you can work on a project with Claire while Aerin is sleeping, like a time capsule or picture that you can paint together. This way she has something special tangible that only the two of you shared. And, don’t worry about the ear tube surgery. My daughter had it and was running around and back to her usual self within two hours. The first hour or so when the anesthesia is wearing off is rough. She might be irritable and scared but it will quickly pass.
Thanks for your reassuring words!
Thank you for posting this today. This week has been such a bad week for me and my oldest who is 2. I know he is super jealous of all the attention my husband and I give to our youngest (now 1). It breaks my heart when I lash out at him, yell at him, or punish him because of something he’s done to get out attention. I feel like such a lousy mother because I’ve mad him mad or, worse of all, cry because we are all on overload.
Anyway, hang in there mama! Hope all goes will with Aerin’s surgery and give Claire some extra snuggles.
Praying that the surgery has gone/will go well–I had ear tube surgery when I was 5 or 6, at the same time I had my tonsils removed. Enjoyed the ice cream.
I like the ideas the others had for giving Claire some mommy-time. I am trying to figure out how to spend quality time with my nieces, who are 8-12 years older than your kids and both extremely prickly and very emotionally needy after some recent and not-so-recent upheaval in their lives. Pre-teen/teenage girls are a little hard to reach out to sometimes…
A trick I know from my parents, is to make the older one feel like he’s participating in taking care of the younger. So at age 3, I was picking my brother’s outfits. 🙂
It’s just a small trick and I’m not a parent, but I think you’re doing really great as a mother. And obviously I don’t know much, but I believe she might be playing a little, testing out “what happens if I say X”. I remember reading an interview with a singer where she mentionned that at 10, she said she wanted to kill herself and her sister. It sounded horrifying for the parents ans she got therapy, but she wasn’t depressed and didn’t even mean it. I think kids experiment that way to learn about human relationships.