Nov 24, 2012  •  In Aerin, Baby, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal

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!

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6 Responses to “The Baby of the Family”

  1. As the baby of the family, I don’t think it changed me… I do think that my older brother feels a bit jealous though. Because even though my Mom spent time with each of us, I think he resented that I got away with a lil bit more stuff.

  2. Andrea says:

    I think the ‘babying’ occurs even more when your children are both the same gender. As a preschool teacher, I have definitely noticed similar tendencies between oldest and youngest in siblings of this type. I am the baby of my family and I also experienced the leniency of my parents that my sister never got. She recently got married so our dad turned his gaze to me and said it would soon be my turn. Our mother, however, insisted that I could take my time which is ironic because she has been eager to marry off my sister since she was my age now!

  3. Revanche says:

    Interesting! I don’t think it was particularly harmful to me but I have wondered whether the perception unduly affected my sibling. Or whether he would always have perceived any attention as unfair, regardless of the so called imbalance.
    I might have said it was different when the siblings were not of the same gender. My parents were more willing to baby me, the youngest of two but the more independent, consistent, academically minded sibling partly because I didn’t need or want the babying so they felt the loss of their baby a little more acutely, and because I was the girl they were a bit more sentimental about their baby girl. Because I was so strong willed and insisted on doing everything myself, if and when I let them baby me, if I was sick or if I asked for anything, it was given to me in spades to my older brother’s disgust and jealousy. He definitely craved attention more than I did and resented the fact that anything I wanted was unquestioningly mine, never mind the fact that I rarely wanted it while he basked in limelight the rest of the time. (I’ll cop to being a bit of a brat about it once, when I figured this out. He was really being a jerk about something so I went and asked for $5 just to see him fume.) But in general, I wasn’t specifically babied, I was expected to perform at the highest levels, I was scolded for not doing certain things well just as much or more because I didn’t have his personality even if they didn’t actually compare us. I didn’t get a “do as your brother does” sense either, I just knew that he was better at certain things.
    My cousins experienced a little bit of the same: their youngest sib was a boy following two girls and he was definitely the little prince! With a greater age difference, the sisters participated in the coddling too, though. 🙂

  4. Emily says:

    I’m sure you know this better than I do, but I wouldn’t chalk all of your reluctance up to Aerin being the baby. I believe that babies totally let you know what they need, and with our 9-month-old daughter, I have never felt like sleep training was the right way to go, until about yesterday. We’re going to try to put her on a bit of a nap schedule, but it’s like something just changed and all of a sudden I feel like it’s the right thing for her. I wouldn’t rush to sleep train Aerin unless you really feel like it’s the right thing to do now, and I think that can change very quickly with babies, so if you woke up and thought, “Yes, sleep training now,” then go for it and good luck! Most of all, I’d say, don’t second-guess what you think is right. For instance, with us, we’re not parents who could do the cry-it-out thing in the first place. You have to parent in a way that’s honest or else your kid will never buy it, and I wouldn’t be able to honestly implement that, which I think means that I would be unsuccessful, no matter how well we stuck to it. But also, I saw her stay awake for 7 hours straight at 3 months old! That kid isn’t crying herself to sleep any time soon. And as my mom always reminds me, “Very few people need to [insert baby habit here, such as being rocked to sleep] in college.”

  5. […] Geek in Heels catches herself coddling the baby of the family […]

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