As Carver will be the second child to join our family, we are somewhat more prepared than we were with Avey. We have a better idea of what sleepless nights are like, the frustrations that come with nursing, the necessity of moving our breakables and assortments of poisons to higher ground, and so on. However, in many ways we are also tackling new and frightening territory. For one, Avey has grown up over the last 4 years as the sole proprietor of our time, energy, attention, and possessions. In a few weeks, she will suddenly find each of these divided and, most likely, lopsided in Carver’s favor, as newborns tend to demand. Kira and I have been acutely aware of Avey’s sensitive nature since shortly after her birth, and thus have been cautious and thoughtful in preparing her for the new addition/competition.
We try to stress, above all, the great influence and wonderful skills Avey can impress upon him. Rather than saying things like, “Won’t it be fun to have a little brother?”, we try to phrase it in ways that make it more about Avey’s role, such as, “Avey will make such a good big sister!” We encourage Avey to think about the kinds of things she can teach him, the ways that she can help Mommy, and the fun things that Carver will probably do to interact with her. We have had several discussions with her about how new babies need a lot of attention, and she seems ready and waiting to be a second little mommy. We’re even preparing a Big Sister Kit for when Carver comes home from the hospital, to include a blanket just for Avey to wrap him in when she holds him, a binky just for her to give him, a “Big Sister” t-shirt, and we plan to have a birthday cake for Carver so that Avey can have a treat.
Through these steps we hope to avoid some of the feelings of jealousy and resentment that so often accompany additional children. We want Avey to feel just as much an equal participant in Carver’s rearing as Kira or I, and to understand that we each will have different duties.
We’ll see how it all pans out. She may loathe the boy, try to usurp Kira’s role as mother, vary between the two extremes, or anything in between. So far she repeatedly expresses her excitement for the first time Carver poops enough that it leaks out of his diaper, and describes ad nauseam how Carver will pull my hair, and how hilarious it will all be.
They are sure to clash on some things, but we are confident that we can survive them all. Whether Carver and Avey can is yet to be determined.