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From the beginning of this second pregnancy, Brian and I had one eye on the finish line and what it would mean to Maddie. Going from being the only child in the center of several adults’ attention to sharing the spotlight with the younger, cuter model would be hard on her, we knew. And since I’m largely a stay-at-home mom she’s pretty used to getting a lot of quality time with me; sharing will be difficult at times, to say the least.

Which is why we have been looking at the nine months in a big arc, planning what it will take to make the transition as smooth and painless for her as possible. I am incredibly fortunate (in case I haven’t mentioned it this week) to have my mom living a few blocks away, and more than willing to pitch in with Maddie, so we knew Mom was the logical alternate caregiver for Maddie to get attached to. Over the last few months Mom’s tried out more and more delicate responsibilities with Maddie: long stretches of daytime by herself, putting her down for naps, handling meals, and finally last night the big one: bedtime.

Brian’s put Madeleine down by himself a few times, but by and large I’ve been there for every bedtime. In the beginning of course it was dictated by nursing; even after she was weaned Maddie’s been a creature of routine and I enjoy my night’s sleep too much to risk it with a wild card. But we’ve got a Lamaze refresher course next week and Gamma’s babysitting so we knew it was time for a dry run.

The verdict? So far, so good. Maddie accepted the change readily and went down without a fuss. I like to think it was my multiple pages of detailed notes that helped out my mom, but in truth it’s probably just that Maddie’s an easygoing kid who loves spending time with her grandmother and took the change in stride.

So now we know – she’ll be able to handle it without me. Brian’s been spending more time with kiddo while I work additional hours, and she’s perfectly content with him as well. In a few months when I’m drowning in the newborn’s needs, Maddie will be relatively content, her emotional needs fed by other people. I’m really grateful I’ve got the support team around to make this transition easy for her.

But what about the transition for me? As Maddie and I snuggle on the couch during the day or she clings to me when she’s just awakened from a bad dream, I’m well aware that these days are numbered – that the moments of her receiving my undivided attention will be fewer and farther between, and I will have other things to do than sit around and watch her eat her snack and sing the ABC song.

A girlfriend of mine who practices attachment parenting had a second child a few months ago, with roughly the same spacing between children as Maddie and peanut. She said the first few weeks felt like a break-up with her first child, and were incredibly hard for her. “They wanted me to attach to my oldest,” she said of the Sears books. “Well, guess what? I’m attached! Now what am I supposed to do!” No one told her the separation would be hard for the mom, as well.

As I said earlier, we’ve been going through a slow process of detachment for several months now with Maddie. I hate using the word “detaching” – I’d rather say, “making independent.” The truth is, though, that we’ve raised Maddie to be an independent child all along, and she’s doing great on this. She’s becoming independent in the truest sense of the word – less dependent on me as we nurture her dependence on others.

I’m the one that’s being detached from her – and it’s already not as easy as I’d thought. Don’t get me wrong – I’m jumping for joy that the sole responsibility for getting Maddie to bed for the rest of her life is no longer mine. I’m happy to have that breathing room. But in the process of preparing her for the new arrival, I’m deliberately teaching her that I won’t always be there for her, that sometimes I will choose to be elsewhere and put her needs below someone elses. And that’s the part that sucks.


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