Being Big is Not Easy

She watched her brother take his first bites of food as he sat in my lap. He grimaced, but opened his mouth for more, and we all cheered.

It was not easy for her to swallow.

At breakfast, she cheered along with us, although she picked up an old habit of banging on her tray as loudly as she could.

But at lunch, as she watched him sit on my lap again, so close to me as she sat a foot away, it must have occurred to her that this was the new way things were going to be.

So used to being the center of attention, she realized she was no longer the only bright star in the family constellation (although she was still the brightest). Here he was, to stay, forever, in the lap that used to be hers.

Used to be? That can not be. Why should I sit here quietly?

And so she screamed. And screamed. And screamed.

This was the scene this morning at breakfast. I guess it was to be expected. She would not eat her food or be consoled or quiet down. She would not settle for anything less than my full attention.

But her brother had to eat. It was his turn, his moment. He had waited so expectantly for this milestone, although probably not as expectantly as I did. All the research, the new wooden bowls, the new blue spoons, the brown rice ground up (organic, of course—let's see how long that lasts), the milk freshly squeezed, they all led up to this first taste of solid food. And I wasn't about to hand him over to someone else to feed.

So I let her scream. And scream. And scream.

Feelings are not shut down here; at least, we try. She had to scream. She had to express her hurt. It was not going to go away with a shush or a treat. Her brother was here to stay. But her feelings didn't have to.

After he'd finished most of his meal, I let our helper hold him and turned my attention to my bigger baby. On my lap once again, her arms wrapped around me.

"It's not easy watching Mommy feed Jacob, huh? Do you miss being the baby that Mommy feeds?" She nodded through her tears. "Did you just want to sit with Mommy for awhile?" No answer.

She sat in my arms silently for a very long time.

Is your "big" girl or boy having big feelings about having a little sibling? Here are some words from wiser teachers that I try to remember:

Helping Kids Adjust to Life with a New Baby (janet lansbury)
10 Tips to Foster Great Sibling Relationships from the Start (aha parenting)
Preschooler Jealous of Baby: What to Do (aha parenting)
7 Ways to Help Your Child Adjust to a New Baby (huffington post)
From Sibling Rivals to Sibling Best Friends (peaceful parents, confident kids)

It is not easy being a big sister, but it can be beautiful.