On guilt and half-birthdays

My baby girl turns six months old tomorrow, and I can’t stop crying.

I have been kind of weepy about her half-birthday all week. I know everyone says everything goes by even faster with second (and subsequent) children because you’re that much busier, and, yes, wow, it is so true. Whenever we start getting close to the 25th of the month, I start lamenting about how quickly she’s growing up. How it’s all going by too quickly.

When D was a baby, I was excited and awed each time he turned a month older. It was just another day to celebrate his amazingness and OMG did you know he can do THIS now??? But with C, I feel sad and guilty. I feel like I spend much less time with her. No, I know I spend less time with her.

D, being the oldest, had nothing but my full attention for 22 entire months. He still gets the majority of my attention, I would bet, since he downright demands it. Little C, sweetly looking around the room and just happy to be part of things, gets less. Younger kids really get the shaft, it appears.

She’s turning six months old, in just a matter of hours, and I’m trying to cling to every second of her babyness. But she’s about to reach that half-way point to toddler-hood. She’s halfway to eating birthday cake, but that CAN’T be right because she’s barely started eating cereal and sweet potatoes! How can so much change in six months?

She’s already creeping and crawling and hitching herself all over the room. She stands hanging onto her activity table or the ride-on car. She is steady on her feet, and if she’s anything like D, she will be taking her first steps in two months, and full-out running in just three months. How is this possible already? She has only tasted applesauce once! We haven’t even bought her puffs yet!

I was very touched by Melissa’s post today at Dear Baby. She talked about the guilt working mothers feel, and oh, did I ever identify. I know I’m extra-sensitive to C’s half-birthday because I’m terrified that I have wasted her babyhood. I know it wasn’t like I really had a choice not to work, but it’s still terrifying to think you have lost something you can never get back.

When I feel like crying I do cry over my guilt of working more than I did when D was a baby, or not being as present in her life, I remind myself of something important:

Yes, I am spending less time with C than I did with D when he was a baby. But Darling Husband is getting to spend much, much more time with C and D than ever before.

For the first two years of D’s life, Darling Husband never got to spend a lot of time with him — and hardly ANY time solo with him — because of his work schedule. Since C turned six weeks old and the work situation was kind of shaken up, he has been able to spend a lot more time with both kids.

On the mornings when I work, he is with them — playing with them and making pancakes and changing diapers and orchestrating naps. He is doing all of the things that I used to do daily, only now I am not there daily. He is getting special time with them, and we no longer have that constant aching feeling that he is missing out. That he is never with them.

It’s hard to keep that perspective sometimes, but when I do remember it, I feel better. Yes, I’m working more. Yes, I’m seeing the kids less. But they are getting to spend more time with their Daddy. They are lucky enough to always have Mommy or Daddy with them, day in and day out.

They are so lucky.
And so are we.

2 Comments on “On guilt and half-birthdays

  1. Oh sissy, you're the best mama around! You're so patient and creative; you make every moment you have with them special! And you're so good at documenting their lives.

    And we little siblings never feel like we got the shaft. Remember we're lucky in that we have a whole other person in our lives that loves us: our older sibs!!

  2. Little Sis is very right and so are you, Mama. Everyone's situations are different, every baby is different, every milestone is different. You are a pro at savouring all of your sweet moments with your kids — something a lot of parents forget to do.

So what do you think?

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