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Doubt Creeps In

For everyone who’s been reading my blogs which rhapsodize endlessly on Maddie’s love affair with her sister and who have been wondering when the other shoe would drop, I think I see it falling from the sky.

Madeleine’s starting to realize that, while Baby Sister is a fun toy and good for a snuggle, she’s also a potential rival for Parent Time or, even worse, a Lap Usurper. Madeleine’s beginning to see the downside to having a sister, and wondering if she’s going to regret this life change.

We haven’t seen anything major yet, but Maddie’s begun trying to get attention when one of us is focused on Cora. If Cora’s crying hard, Maddie will begin an unconvincing facsimile, a purposefully false whiney cry, and lean against us as if to say, “I’m a baby too! Take care of me!” She also becomes alarmingly agitated over certain situations that you absolutely cannot predict. For example, we use a big exercise ball to calm Cora when she gets colicky; holding her while we sit and bounce seems to help out for a bit. But recently when I sat down with Cora Maddie began screaming, “Mommy no sit on ball! Mommy no sit on ball!” and then wailing wholeheartedly. Mind you, this is not a ball she ever uses by herself; it’s far too big for her. She simply didn’t want me sitting down and bouncing her sister. The solution? Mommy may end up holding BOTH girls on the ball, no easy task I promise.

We’ve got a bouncy seat set up for Cora that Maddie usually doesn’t mind acquiescing, but occasionally even that will be too much and she’ll begin demanding Elmo get “his” turn in the bouncy seat, that Cora’s had it long enough. This has tapered off a bit since Maddie received an toy swing set for her doll baby for her birthday, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the end of it.

And of course, there’s feeding time. If I bring the boppy out into the living room, sometimes all will be good. But occasionally Maddie will see it and begin crying, “Mommy no feed Cora please!” Sometimes she’ll be assuaged with getting to snuggle next to me while I nurse, but sometimes not.

By far the worst culprit, though, is the soft carrier: we’ve got a definite Soft Carrier Sibling Rivalry going on. We own a sling, a Bjorn, and an Ergo Carrier (which puts me in the unique position of giving you a really thorough review of different carriers – look for that later this month!) and I use all of them while parenting. Maddie tolerates me using the sling – especially since she got a toddler toy version for her birthday. But when the Bjorn comes out Maddie sees the dissipation of Maddie Lap Space and begins crying right away. Unfortunately, the Bjorn is a necessity sometimes if I am going to get anything done, or the only way to calm Cora down. Maddie may beg to get into the Bjorn instead of Cora, which is an impossibility. Our solution? We’ve made the Ergo Carrier “Maddie’s carrier” and she’ll often request to be put in it within minutes of Cora going in the Bjorn. So one parent’s wearing an 8-pound newborn, and the other’s wearing a 25-pound toddler. Maddie will snuggle against the chest, say, “Oh, baby Maddie,” and smile contentedly.

For the most part, my oldest girl loves being a big sister and adores her baby sister. She’ll often say to Cora, “Who’s your big sister?” And one day recently, she looked up from Cora lying on her lap and said to me, “I love her so much.” Can you stand it?

But we do see a bit of regression in Maddie, and a bit more neediness. Often any adult giving necessary attention to Cora will result in Maddie needing a bit of a snuggle a few minutes down the line. And listen, if that’s the worst of the sibling rivalry in this family, I can live with it. I’ve got snuggles to spare.


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